Sleep disorders have become much more of an issue in our modern, high-stress society. Of these disorders, insomnia is the most prevalent. Recent American Sleep Association polls, showing a full 30% of adults polled suffering brief periods of insomnia and another 10% experiencing chronic bouts of it, support this assertion. Registered Nurse and author Terry Cralle has had a lot of experience in the subject.
As a nurse certified in Clinical Sleep Health and as a Clinical Sleep Educator, she has taught and counseled numerous clients about how to resolve their sleep issues.
She has also co-authored two books, Sleeping Your Way To The Top and the children’s story Snoozby and the Great Big Bedtime Battle, related to sleep. The message Cralle tries to impart to others is better to sleep generally equates to a higher quality of life. With this in mind, she offers the following advice to those suffering from insomnia: consider rethinking your bedroom/sleeping space.
While many things affect our ability to fall asleep and sleep well, Cralle thinks redesigning a poorly planned bedroom could be an easy, drugfree fix to your sleep difficulties. Continue reading to find out her suggestions for how to design your bedroom for a better night’s sleep.
Know the Purpose of a Bedroom
Simplify your Bedroom
The first step in designing an optimal bedroom is truly understanding what a bedroom is for. In Terry Cralle’s view, a bedroom is for two things only, sleep and sex, and using one for any other purpose could be detrimental to our health. Eliminating clutter and things unrelated to a bedroom’s primary role as a place to sleep is a good start to our remodeling.
Cralle even advises that we remove hidden clutter from under our beds since muddles are distractions to sleep and tend to cause anxiety. If we must store something under our beds, she suggests it only be sleep-related items like pillows and blankets. Clean up around your room, removing laundry piles, electronic devices and disorganized bills and paperwork.
Also, make sure your nightstand isn’t messy by keeping loose papers and other items in one of its drawers. Cralle suggests that you only keep a lamp, framed photo and maybe a journal on your nightstand.
Keep Electronics Out of Sight
Electronics have an extremely negative impact on our ability to sleep. They can be quite distracting and the light they emit can also disrupt our sleep patterns.
Watching or listening to programs on these devices immediately prior to sleep could even lead to other disorded sleeping issues like talking in your sleep. If possible, even things like digital alarm clocks and cable boxes should be banished from your sleeping area.
Cralle advises that you hide your television away in a cabinet, or install a lift to drop or raise it out of view when not being watched. The latter method is preferable because it more thoroughly hides your television. Ultimately, the more out of view your electronics are, the better
Select Sleep-Inducing Colors
A Dreamy Pale Blue Bedroom
Colors have a remarkable physical impact on our minds and bodies. Some colors have been known to increase heart rates and blood pressure, while others tend to lower stress levels.
Cralle has found that neutral shades and quiet colors, like silver, gray, light blue, green and lavender, lower heart rates and blood pressure to make better sleep possible. A sleepy light blue is often a good option, as Interior designer Alexis Rodgers of Home With Alexis has found.
Her preferred bedroom paint (depicted in the above photo) is Farrow & Ball’s Borrowed Light, reduced to 75% of its manufactured strength. Considering the results of a recent survey, which showed that people with blue bedrooms slept longer on average than those with rooms painted a different color, this seems prudent. In the same survey, moss green, pastel yellow and silver were the next most sleep-inducing colors. Other surveys have found that purple bedrooms are the worst for sleeping.
Cralle has some additional advice on selecting an appropriate color for your bedroom. She particularly likes green as a bedroom color, since it’s often thought to be stress-relieving, but warns against using a strong green. According to her, you should stick to using a pastel green.
If you want a lighter room, she suggests merely using green highlights on white walls. Although the sleep expert cautions against using dark colors, she also notes that bedrooms painted in dark colors can help night workers sleep better during the day. Cralle thinks paint with a flat finish is better to use than glossy paint.
In her opinion, it makes the room seem softer. One color she believes should certainly be avoided is red. In 2003, a Minnesota State University study found that people in red rooms had higher stress levels than those in white or green rooms. Red also tends to raise blood pressure and heart rates.
A Good Mattress is a Game Changer.
You may not realize it, but your mattress greatly impacts your health. It can determine whether you have a good night’s sleep or a restless night and this, over time, will affect your general health. Also, when purchasing a new mattress, it’s important to be mindful that we will spend a quarter or more of each day on our mattress.
Therefore, it’s important and highly beneficial to us to invest in quality when we buy one. According to Cralle, a good mattress has a balance of support and comfort. She defines “support” as “the ability of a mattress to maintain spinal alignment as you sleep” and describes “comfort” as being “the ability of a mattress to spread body weight over the sleep surface to relieve pressure points.”
There are other things to consider when making a mattress purchase. Chief among these are your size requirements and age. Although Queen is the preferred bed size in the U.S., Cralle notes that King-sized beds offer more room and suggest they might also provide better sleep for many people.
Whatever you choose, the sleep expert advises that you invest in a mattress that’s big enough to comfortably fit you and your partner, if you have one. Cralle’s final advice on mattresses concerns the age of the user. She explains that, as we age, our skin elasticity declines and we become more sensitive at our pressure points. Therefore, the sleep expert believes softer mattresses with greater “comfort” are more appropriate for older people.
Blackout Shades are Cool
Nate Berkus, The Shade Store Collection.
A good sleep requires darkness. A good set of blackout shades/curtains or a sleep mask are essential if you live in a brightly lit area or sleep during daylight hours. If you need blackout shades or other window dressings, The Shade Store offers many attractive options.
They have a wide selection of popular and stylish products, from numerous well-known collections, like One King’s Lane, Nate Berkus, Aerin, Chilewich and others. Plus, they make getting custom-fitted items easy and affordable. Also, their measurements are free with purchase, so you don’t have to worry about paying additional service fees.
Silence is Golden
Stylish Platform Bed from The Inside
Obviously, it is important to have a quiet place to sleep. There are many ways you can limit and reduce noise levels in your bedroom. One is with soft, sound-absorbing floor coverings. Wool, fur, shag and cotton carpets and rugs are ideal for this purpose.
Cralle suggests putting a rug under the lower two-thirds of your bed so that you won’t make noise and wake up your partner when you get out of bed. Other ways of reducing noise are wall coverings and sound swallowing furniture. Hanging textiles like thick tapestries and other such items, readily available at Society6, can also absorb a lot of unwanted sounds.
Filling your bedroom with upholstered items greatly reduces noise pollution. Your bed, in particular, should help with this. A store called The Inside has a particularly extensive line of upholstered items for your muted bedroom. They offer perfectly matched sets of furniture, in a wide array of sleep-friendly colors.
You can find everything from ottomans, to beds, to chairs and benches there. Aside from floor and wall coverings and furniture, Cralle believes ceiling fans are useful to achieving the perfect sound environment in your sleeping area. She believes the sound they make and how they circulate the air relaxes people.
Select the Right Bedding
The Right Bedding is Important.
The “right” bedding for sleep is essential, but it’s also largely a matter of personal preference. One prime example of this concerns the color of the bedding. While Cralle favors entirely white bedding because she associates it with luxurious comfort and cleanliness, other experts, like Dr. Oz, think all-white bedding is detrimental to our sleep patterns because it reflects light and disrupts the production of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.
Cralle emphasizes though, that any bedding that makes you want to sleep is good. Another important aspect of bed coverings to consider, the sleep expert noted, is thread count. She suggests that most people should look for bed coverings with thread counts ranging between 280 and 450.
However, Cralle admits that this too is a matter of personal preference. While it’s popularly believed that higher thread counts equal greater comfort, they also mean more trapped body heat and discomfort for a “hot sleeper”.
The sleep expert suggested that these “hot sleepers” try stay-cool bed coverings like those in the bamboo rayon collection by My Sheets Rock. These sheets are Oeko-Tex certified and are 50% less humid and up to four degrees cooler than traditional cotton sheets. Having a nightly ritual can also have a positive effect on our sleep patterns. These rituals put us in the mood for sleep and prepare our bodies for it. Cralle emphatically believes that making our bed every day can contribute to us having a better night’s sleep. This is because, at night, getting into the clean, made bed makes her think of comfort and sleep.