To set the mood for sleep, here are some helpful hints from the experts on how to primp your bedroom for slumber:
- Draw the curtains to minimize light from street lamps streaming in.
- Turn off all the lights in the bedroom.
- Experiment with “blackout” curtains or roll-up shades if it’s still too light. You can even make these drapes yourself, but make sure you measure properly so they fit tight on all edges.
- In a pinch, use a piece of stiff cardboard cut to fit the window. You can take the board down during the daytime.
- Shut the windows to block out disruptive external noises.
- Try having the radio on but tuned into soft music and turned down low. “Whatever you feel is helpful is okay as long as your bed partner can put up with it.” says Dr. Rachel Morehouse, Medical Director, Atlantic Sleep Centre, St. John Regional Hospital, St. John, New Brunswick. ”It all depends on what you’re used to and what you find relaxing.”
- Experiment with background “white noise” which some people find helpful in calming the mind. The brain tends to pay attention more to intermittent sounds, rather than continuous or rhythmic sounds. A fan or air conditioner can mask some of these intermittent sounds, allowing the brain to be less likely to be alerted by them, says Dr. Maureen Ceresney, a Sleep Specialist at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
- Paint the walls a calming tone. Some people find that shades of pastel blue or sea blue are most serene.
- Test various calming scents in the form of a sachet under your pillow, a spray on mist on your wrists, essential oil, candle or even a mild incense stick. Some people find that a waft of lavender, jasmine, rose, chamomile and/or sandalwood puts them in the mood for dreaming.
- Invest in a good quality mattress – one that offers proper support and that won’t cause back problems. Dr. Atul Khullar, a psychiatrist, and Medical Director, Northern Alberta Sleep Clinic (MedSleep Edmonton), suggests spending time in a mattress store testing out various makes and models to find the one that best suits your sleeping needs. Some people are more comfortable with an extra firm mattress while others prefer a more flexible version. For couples with different tastes, there are now “memory foam” mattresses with a different level of firmness on each side. There are also air mattresses and waterbeds with various degrees of fiber filling that allow each partner to create their own level of comfort.
- Make sure that your pillows are comfortable so you don’t wake up with a stiff, achy neck. If necessary, speak to a distributor of medical assistance products about a pillow that doesn’t put stress on your spine.
- Check that your duvet or blankets aren’t too heavy, which could constrict your sleep.
- Get checked for allergies if your sleep is being disrupted due to sneezing, runny eyes, congestion, or a drippy nose. You might be allergic to the feathers in your down duvet or pillows.
- Ensure the room temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. This, too, is a personal preference and you might have to negotiate with your partner to come up with a compromise.
- Restrict your bedroom activity to sleep and sex (no reading, no working).
- Avoid checking the clock during the night. It might help if you turn the clock so it faces the wall, suggests Dr. Diane Boivin, Director, Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms, Douglas Institute, and Professor, Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal. Dr.Boivin is author of a book on sleep called “Le Sommeil et vous: Mieux dormir, mieux vivre” (Sleep and You: Sleep Better, Live Better), an English translation of which should be available soon.
- Fill your bedroom with items you find peaceful and relaxing. Some people find that hanging certain pieces of artwork on the walls helps put them in the mood for slumber.
- Keep all the usual distractions (cell phones, computers, TVs etc.) out of the bedroom, says Ceresney.
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