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Constructing the Ideal Sleep Environment: The 5 Senses

5 senses sleepSleep eludes us all from time to time, but if you’re finding yourself sleep deprived more often than not, it may be time to reevaluate your sleep environment! Chronic insomnia is a prevalent problem, with more than 3 million cases in the US per year, and often linked to other health issues. Believe it or not, even in deep sleep, all your senses still come into play in getting a good night’s rest.

Touch: Experts say the ideal bedroom temperature is cool, somewhere around 65 degrees. Mattress materials, as well as the fabrics on your bed and body, deal with heat differently. Choosing breathable, cotton fabric to sleep in is best. Some pajamas and sheets are manufactured to help wick away moisture as well. Each of us has a different optimal temperature for sleep, so experiment and find what makes you most comfortable.

Sight: Sunlight detected by cells in the retina of the eye sends messages to the brain that keep us in a roughly 24-hour pattern. Bright lights and electronics after dark can interfere with our brain’s ability to keep that pattern healthy. Consider lower-watt bulbs for your bedside lamps and reserving 30 minutes before bed with no electronics. Keeping your room as dark as possible will also help keep your body in sleep mode so that you awaken refreshed for the day.

Sound: During sleep, your brain continues to process sound on a basic level. Disruptions interrupt important restful stages of sleep. Researchers have found that having white noise can help mask noises that disturb our sleep. Sounds from neighbors, from sleeping partners, and from outside are not within our control, and if they are disrupting your sleep, a sound machine may be the way to go!

Smell: Surrounding yourself with a calming scent you like can help you drift off into deeper, more restful sleep. One study observed that placing lavender in your bedroom or smelling it before sleep helped participants experience deeper sleep and feel more rejuvenated in the morning. Improving indoor air quality by keeping some air-purifying plants can also help. Keeping your sheets and pillows clean can also combat allergies that may upset our much needed sleep.

Taste: The best thing to do is eat lightly and avoid any caffeine in the latter part of the day. Researchers have also found that alcohol will prevent restful sleep. How much sleep you get can also greatly affect what you eat during the day. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived persons have a higher intake of fat-rich foods and consume less vegetables. Being mindful of what you eat and when will keep your body ready for the day and ready for good sleep!