Create a Restful Environment to Promote Sleep
Purpose: Creating a restful environment may promote more restorative sleep by improving the ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and to smoothly transition between sleep cycles.
The Practice section below contains a list of strategies that may help someone create a restful environment and achieve more restorative sleep. Please review the WavyFields topics: “Start the Day by Waking up Nicely,” “Replenish Energy by Taking a Nap,” and “Rejuvenate the Mind and Body by Sleeping Well” for more information about improving the quality of sleep.
Practice: These practices may help someone to create a restful environment and promote more restorative sleep.
Light: Turn off or dim the lights in the living environment one to two hours before bed to increase the body’s natural production of melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical that helps create the feeling of sleepiness. Being in dim light or darkness one to two hours before bed can help the mind slow, become introspective, and prepare for sleep. Create a dark room by turning off lights, covering windows, or wearing an eye shade.
Noise: Create a quiet room by removing environmental noise. If needed, use a white noise machine to assist in the reduction of unwanted noise.
Temperature: Create a cool room that is approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust the layers of bedding (use organic bedding when possible) and types of clothing to help the body feel comfortable. If needed, use a fan, window, or heater to adjust the room temperature.
Organization: Create a peaceful atmosphere by keeping the room clean, organized, and safe. Remove clocks from the bedroom. Do not check the time after settling into bed or during a middle of the night awakening because this may create psychological noise, decrease melatonin production, and thereby make it harder to fall asleep.
Mindset: Change the term “going to sleep” to “letting go of waking.” Sleep is not a physical place that a person can go. Psychologically reframing how sleep is thought of may help someone surrender to sleep and let go of the waking day. Please refer to the WavyFields topic “Rejuvenate the Mind and Body by Sleeping Well” for more mindfulness practices that may improve the ability to fall asleep.
Sleeping Aids: Check with a pharmacist if medication interferes with sleep. Antidepressants, pain medication, and sleep medication may interfere with the ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or to smoothly transition between sleep cycles. This may then lead to less restorative sleep and diminish the ability to produce dreams. Check with a doctor if it is safe to use natural sleep remedies, such as melatonin or valerian, instead of sleep medication.
Eating and Drinking: Avoid drinking alcohol at least three hours before going to bed, because it can suppress melatonin production and disrupt the sleep cycle leading to less restorative sleep. Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine at least three hours before going to bed, because they can suppress adenosine production, which is a sleep-inducing chemical. Finish eating any food at least three hours before going to bed. The process of digestion increases blood flow into the digestive system and decreases blood flow in other areas of the body. If a person falls asleep within three hours of eating, then the amount of blood that would normally flow into the brain and other organs may be diminished, leading to less restorative sleep.
Resources: Below are additional resources that may help someone to achieve more restorative sleep.
Healing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming, and Awakening by Rubin Naiman, PhD
Take a Nap! Change Your Life by Sara Mednick, PhD
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