Practical considerations to care for sleep hygiene and your space
With holistic sleep coaching, we get curious about what may block sleep in different areas of life. This article is about managing your bedroom factors.
11 min read
Hey sleep enthusiast,
Thanks for getting curious about your sleep struggles, in particular how different ways to look after your bedroom environment can impact sleep. As a sleep coach, people have often heard the term sleep hygiene and and are curious to know more about its meaning, as well as the best tips for sleep hygiene and the ideal bedtime routine.
The truth is there is no one 'best' way when it comes to sleep hygiene, there are a number of factors to consider and experiment with to find out what can support your lifestyle and Restful Sleep. As part of a holistic approach to sleep health, this article outlines practical sleep hygiene considerations to try in your bedroom space and bedtime routine when inconsistent sleep is a way of life.
What is the meaning of sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to practical habits and behaviours to give you the best chance of getting Restful Sleep under the general categories of:
Managing a regular sleep schedule (waking and bed times),
Setting up a comfortable and supportive sleep environment,
Conscious substance use (such as coffee, alcohol and more),
Exercising regularly in ways that fit your goals and lifestyle.
Why is sleep hygiene important?
When inconsistent sleep is a way of life, sleep hygiene best practices can bring some stability to everyday routines. When repeated, these kinds of practical actions give signals to the body when it may be time to start feeling sleepy or alert.
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to finding Restful Sleep, so by experimenting with different sleep hygiene recommendations, you can see which changes may work with your lifestyle and make an impact on your sleep.
This article covers sleep hygiene factors that you can explore specifically related to the sleep environment. You can find out more about sleep hygiene habits that relate to caring for your body, from drinking coffee or alcohol to exercising, here.
How can stimulus control (from CBTI) help with sleep?
Stimulus control is a core concept in sleep hygiene, the idea behind it is to associate the bed and bedroom with sleep, sexual activity or sickness only. By taking activities that bring stimulation or alertness to other physical locations at home, this conditions the brain to link the bedroom with sleepiness-inducing activities and nothing else. Some ways to do this include:
Get strict on cutting extra activities from your bedroom: these include reading, watching TV, eating, working or even using your phone.
Get out of bed if you can't sleep within twenty minutes: instead engage in a relaxing activity in a different room, such as reading a book or listening to soft music (avoiding bright lights or electronic devices).
Establish a regular sleep schedule: try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate the body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
With these kinds of regular actions, simply entering the bedroom becomes a prompt for sleepiness, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
It can take a while to work out what associations may have been created between your bed through your daily habits, especially as these are often done without thinking. It also takes discipline and awareness to test out new ways of being, so don't be too hard on yourself if you find these seemingly simple actions challenging. The truth is that changing habits is hard work, but it can be done when you can accept yourself as and when you may have challenging moments along the way.
This is where sleep coaching can be supportive when it comes to both efficiently guiding your inquiry into unpicking what may be blocking your sleep, as well as helping find alternative habits and ways of being to try. Having accountability from a sleep coach can help you stay on track with making changes and get results quicker. If you'd like to get a free consultation on what how you could get support with your seep struggles, you can book here.
Excessive light at night
Too much exposure to light at night (LAN) can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, by suppressing its secretion. This makes it more difficult for our bodies to follow the signals that bring sleepiness and falling asleep, as well as staying asleep.
Excessive light exposure at night can come from various sources, including electronic devices such as smartphones and televisions, as well as bright lights in the home or workplace. The blue light emitted by these devices is particularly disruptive to sleep, as it can mimic the alertness effect that natural light has on the body.
To reduce the impact of excessive light exposure at night, you can:
Use dimmer lighting in the hours leading up to bedtime to help reduce exposure to bright light and encourage the production of melatonin.
Use blue light blocking filters on electronic devices during the day, or use special glasses that block blue light.
Avoid using electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, for at least an hour before bedtime.
Invest in curtains or blackout shades to block out light, or use a sleep mask.
The social sleep environment
Social sleeping refers to sleeping with a partner, or in close proximity to others, and the impact that can have on sleep quality. Whilst many people find falling asleep with a partner in the bed can bring comfort and sleepiness, it can also cause tension, leading to alertness and frustration. The effects that co-sleeping have on sleep hygiene depend on the conditions of a specific situation.
How sleeping with a partner or in close proximity to others can help with sleep:
Brings a sense of security, boosting well-being and reducing stress,
Can improve sleep health, even potentially reducing sleep apnea.
Potentially challenging effects of social sleeping:
Each partner may bring different disruptions which can impact sleep quality, such as snoring or sleep-talking,
Falling asleep can take longer when there may be tension or conflict in the relationship,
Different times of going to bed can interrupt sleep-wake cycles.
To improve sleep hygiene and reduce the effects of social sleeping, you can consider the factors above about light exposure and stimulus control to try the following:
Use an eye mask, earplugs or white noise to block out any anticipated noise that may disrupt your sleep,
Agree on sleep routines with your partner, such as no talking or bright lights during certain hours, to minimise disruptions,
Consider sleeping in separate beds or bedrooms if your sleep schedule is significantly different from your partner's.
By being mindful of the impact of social sleeping on sleep hygiene, you can make adjustments to improve your sleep quality and reduce the risk of sleep disturbances.
Other ways to manage your bedroom environment for sleep
Creating an environment that supports sleep is essential for improving sleep hygiene and ensuring a good night's rest. The following tips can help you create a sleep-friendly environment:
Control temperature: Keep your bedroom cool, around 65°F (18°C), as a cool room can promote better sleep.
Reduce noise: Use earplugs, white noise machines, or soundproof curtains to block out any disruptive noise.
Make your bed comfortable: Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to support a good night's sleep.
Remove distractions: Remove electronic devices and other distractions, such as a television or clutter, from your sleep environment.
Create a relaxing atmosphere: Use calming scents, such as lavender, and calming colors, such as blue or green, to create a relaxing atmosphere in your sleep environment.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol for at least a few hours before bedtime, as these substances can disrupt sleep.
Other areas of your lifestyle to experiment with
When it comes to finding your way to Restful Sleep, trying different ways of being to see what may works for you is the only sustainable way. This article looks at ways to care for your bedroom environment to improve your sleep. There is also information to consider for different ways to look after your mind and body for sleep below for a holistic approach to sleep health that considers all aspects of a person's being.
There are many lifestyle factors to experiment with in order to be able to find the routines and habits that will be work specifically for you. Because what is supportive for someone else won’t necessarily translate for another when there are different lifestyle needs, preferences and conditions to consider.
In working with clients in one on one sleep coaching, we take a dive deep into exploring the sleep blocks specific to the person and their lifestyle to get to the root cause of their sleep struggles. You can look into this for yourself using this guide and those below, or if you'd like some support in the process with sleep coaching for more efficiency and accountability, you can book a free sleep consultation here.