There is no substitute for sleep. How much you need may depend on your age group or activity level, but it is safe to say that no one should be getting less than six hours of shut-eye every night. Many Americans today report that they typically do not get as much sleep as they want to, and around 82% of people say that they think one extra hour of sleep is somewhat or even extremely valuable to them. When it comes to sleep, everything in the bedroom is a factor, including your very own health. How can pillowcases, sheets, alarm clocks, internet use, and your mental well-being combine to form the best possible sleep environment? Let’s find out.
Sheets and Pillowcases
When it comes to getting a better night’s sleep, a good area to focus on is the bedding itself. Good bedding is not to be taken for granted, and you should be choosing your bedding based on several key factors. For one thing, cold and hot weather each call for different fabrics, and the total number of threads in a square inch of fabric should be considered. Some bedding is very light and thin, and it breathes easily. These fabrics are ideal for nights in warmer weather. By contrast, sheets with more threads are softer and warmer, and they are ideal for keeping a person warm during the night, but they get uncomfortably hot during warmer weather. The same is true of pillowcases, which may also be swapped out for weather changes.
And that’s just the start. Some sets of bedding are even more specialized. For example, hypoallergenic bedding can help prevent respiratory system distress, especially if you have severe allergies. Either way, you’re going to spend several hours in your bed every single night. Shouldn’t you be able to sleep comfortably without allergy flare-ups?
Cleaning Your Sheets
It is also essential to keep all pillowcases, sheets, fitted sheets, and other bedding clean and ready for use. Most people choose to wash their bedding every two months or so. Others clean their bedding as often as once per month. Either way, many Americans report that they enjoy going to bed in clean sheets, based on how those sheets feel and smell. Doing so can also clean out sweat stains, skin flakes, and other debris that may make the sheets heavier and unpleasant to use.
Limiting Electronic Device Use
This is something relevant to nearly everyone living in the developed world today. In the modern age, there are 3.5 billion internet users, which is nearly 45% of the entire human race. People can access the internet on a desktop computer, with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and more. Not to mention gaming consoles and regular television for added screen time. Americans are using electronic screens more than ever, and they do this day and night alike. While useful, these devices are also taxing on a person’s mind and body. It can add up in a hurry!
It is one thing for a business, for example, to use technology a lot, but you don’t have to be quite so invested personally. A small business can generate $3 in revenue for every $1.60 spent on Google Ads, just as one example. Digital marketing is huge and still growing, and this is great for a business’s numbers. But what about human health? We are not machines, and we never will be. Instead, a good starting point is to limit screen time more and more as a typical day progresses. By evening time, after work and when the sun is setting, screen time can be much lower. Phasing out screens for the day means spending more quality time with family members and friends, and you can easily occupy yourself with reading books and magazines, but avoid using the room light and switch to something more delicate like a gentle floor light that will allow you to see what you read without giving your body or eyes that feeling of awakening.
This transitions neatly into bedtime. If you have not been looking at screens during the hour or two leading up to bedtime, then your brain is primed and ready to sleep. Why? The short answer: light. The human brain is wired to sleep and wake up according to the sun’s natural cycles. However, screens create a great deal of artificial light, especially blue light. All of this light tricks the brain into thinking that it’s daytime. A compromise is to adjust a computer monitor or a smartphone to dim and eliminate its blue light rays, which greatly reduces the impact that light has on the brain. Various apps and settings for these devices can help with that.
A Mind for Sleep
Don’t neglect your own thoughts before bed. Often, it is difficult to sleep when you are stressed, angry, or otherwise distressed or occupied. Even having your mind on something positive and exciting can be an issue. To counteract this, try performing relaxing stretches and meditation before bed, which helps calm both the body and mind. Meditation both before bed and after waking up is highly effective at calming the mind and allowing a person to sort out and settle their thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Best of all, meditation like this does not require medication, special tools or skills, or spending any money. Instead, you can sit or lay in a comfortable position and allow their mind to naturally go blank, or at least slowdown. The idea is to let any distracting or distressing emotions or thoughts run their course unimpeded, and the brain will unwind itself.
Another mental idea is to keep a journal which, like meditation, allows you to record thoughts and ideas, and thus not have to mull them over since they are already recorded. Writing ideas and emotions down can help provide clarity and release, and writing them by hand is encouraged. In particular, try keeping a gratitude journal, where you write down everything, big and small, that you are grateful for in your life. Your significant other or spouse, your children, your nice house or car, your good health and meaningful friendships, and anything else can count. This can put you in a great mood right before bed, which in turn may make sleep easier.
Getting enough sleep at night is incredibly important to your overall health. And you might not even know that some of your regular habits are negatively impacting that. If you want to get better sleep every night, try using a few of the tips we talked about here. Sweet dreams!