Every year, there are 40 million people in the U.S. who suffer from chronic sleep disorders and another 20 million who suffer from occasional sleep issues. A good night’s sleep is important for overall health. Studies have shown that people who get enough quality sleep have stronger immune systems, lowering the risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease than those who aren’t managing 7 – 8 hours a night. There are lifestyle strategies to implement and design solutions to improve the sleep environment.
Exercise – Exercise has so many benefits for good health, including good sleep. Physical activity helps relieve stress. It increases time spent in deep sleep, the phase when the body boosts cell regeneration, increases blood supplies to muscles and strengthens the immune system.
Bedtime – Keep a regular bedtime, including waking up. The body likes consistent rhythms.
Food and Drink – Avoid eating and drinking close to bedtime, preferably a couple of hours before.
Temperature – Regulate temperature bedroom between 60 and 70 degrees.
Turn off the lights – Keep the bedroom dark. This includes ambient light from alarm clocks, cable boxes, lit light switches, cell phones, and other sources.
Relax – A warm bath can help relax the body. Warm, not hot, and no more than 30 minutes before bedtime to give your body a chance to cool down.
Design and Building Solutions – Create quiet and peaceful surroundings to promote quality sleep. Design strategies will help prepare the bedroom for relaxation and sleep.
Heating – If you have separate heat zones in your home, use a timer to regulate the optimal temperature before getting into bed. If the house has a central heating or cooling system, use the same strategy. Some space heaters have timers and can be used to heat up a small room.
Light – Light, even ambient light, can be disruptive to a good sleep. Blackout drapes and blinds are helpful to cut light and can add an attractive look to the room. Dimming overhead lights and using a softer light for reading will reduce stress.
Noise – Sound dampening materials and techniques reduce outside noise. When building or remodeling, consider using sound dampening windows. Architects and builders often suggest sound walls in residential and condo projects. Sound walls are a construction process using a staggered wall framing that creates a barrier between rooms, reducing the amount of sound vibration transferring from one room to the next. This is very successful and doesn’t cost a lot of extra money during new construction or a remodel.
Colors – Colors have an impact on the ambiance of the room. Nature is a good resource for soothing colors. Soft blues and greens are peaceful. If painting isn’t an option, materials and furniture in quiet tones will help relax the mind.
Technology – Home controls have proven to be beneficial for creating restful surroundings. Automatic heating and lighting controls will prepare your bedroom for a restful night. Program cell phones, computers, and TVs to sleep 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime.
A good night’s sleep helps the body rejuvenate and promotes good health. Adding peace and comfort helps to reduce stress. Try these lifestyle and design strategies to improve the quality of your sleep.
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Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.