Sleep hygiene for your bedroom
Following on from her expert advice on how to sustainably and naturally clean your mattress, journalist, broadcaster, former magazine editor and author Wendyl Nissen shares her tips on extending all-important sleep hygiene practices past your personal routine and into the bedroom to help you achieve quality sleep naturally.
The art of falling asleep is something many of us wish we knew more about; there are many tips available, which include using light-blocking curtains, infusing your space with essential oils and my favourite tip of all…having a lovely hot bath.
Something many of us don’t consider is sleep hygiene. While typically this would refer to healthy habits and actions you take around bedtime to support regular and quality sleep, this can also be extended to how you set up your bedroom environment, to encourage you to relax and sink into the glorious sleep you deserve. Some people, like me, are obsessed with ensuring a feel-good bedroom. So, here is my guide to give your bedroom the sleep hygiene seal of approval.
The first impression
When you walk into your bedroom after an evening watching TV or from a night out, your first impression should be one of peace, tranquillity and calm. You’ve experienced this if you have ever had a massage at a top spa. You walk in and immediately feel a sense of deep freedom. So, before you settle down to watch TV or head out for the night, pop into your bedroom and set the scene for your return. It takes just a few minutes to arrange everything and this sends you a message that a good night’s sleep awaits.
- If you have dimmer switches on your bedroom lights, then you simply need to turn those all the way down, so the light is comforting and warm. If you don’t have dimmer switches, then invest in smart light bulbs, which you can control from your smartphone. These will not only give you soft light, but many colours to choose from. Go for a soothing colour and very low lighting
- You can also achieve suitable lighting by simply switching off your main light and investing in bedside lamps in pastel or neutral colours
- If you love a luxurious scented candle, give your bedroom its own special candle with a scent which sends you straight to your calm place. Or invest in an aroma diffuser and fill with essential oils. Lavender, rose and jasmine are my favourites. If you’re not sure which oil to choose, find a health shop with testers to find your favourite. You’ll soon know which ones work for you
- Make sure you get your scents wafting a few hours before bedtime. If you’re going out for the evening, do not light the candle or turn on the diffuser until you get home, safety first!
- It’s very easy to have your bedside table covered in books you want to read, medications, face creams, jewellery and hair ties. In the interests of good sleep hygiene, remove all those things and find a new home for them in a drawer or on a bookshelf
- Now, place beautiful items on the bedside table, such as a vase of fresh flowers, preferably scented ones like lavender or rose. Just looking at a vase of beautiful flowers always makes me feel lovely. Choose an easy-to-use bedside lamp with a neutral colour. Then find a beautiful glass and fill with water so you can replenish and hydrate as needed
Getting into bed
- We’ve all walked into someone else’s bedroom or stayed in a hotel where the linen on the bed has called out to you and what it is saying is ‘relax’! When you’re choosing linen for your bed, go for soothing colours for your top bed cover. White is great if you don’t have kids or pets who will dirty it up in a few hours. Pastels are best, delicate shades of pink, blue or green work well. Or colours from nature, such as grey, olive or stone
- When it comes to sheets, white is always the best, simply because it says clean, crisp and welcoming. If you want to indulge, go for a natural fibre such as cotton, linen or bamboo
- Always try to line-dry your sheets, as the sun is a natural bleaching agent and leaves your linen with the scent of a warm afternoon. Bury your head in them when you take them off the line and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Get into bed with these sun-kissed sheets and you will have no choice but to relax
- If you want to be very special you can iron your sheets. It sounds like a classic time-wasting occupation, but putting your sheets under a hot, steaming iron before placing them on your bed will do three things. The heat will kill off any unwanted dust mites, the steam will crisp them up beautifully, and there will be no wrinkles. You can literally slide between the sheets when it is bedtime
- If you’ve got a Sealy Posturepedic mattress, then you’re going to want to take good care of it! Mattresses do tend to be forgotten once they are unpacked and covered in sheets. Yet mattresses can make a huge difference to how we sleep, so it pays to look after them
- Every three months, make sure you rotate your mattress to ensure that you’re getting the best out of it. This simply means turning it around 180 degrees, so the end which was at the bottom is now at the top
- While you’re doing this, give your mattress a quick once over to see if there are any stains or marks which could be removed. If you find some, simply sprinkle with baking soda, wet it slightly to a paste and give it a scrub with an old toothbrush. Leave for 10 minutes then lift the baking soda off the mattress and dab with a wet sponge. Next place a towel on the spot and weigh it down with a heavy book to soak up any excess moisture for a few hours. Finally, expose to the air to dry off completely
- Then give your mattress a good brush with either a stiff brush or vacuum with the brush head fitting to get rid of any dust and detritus
Making the bed
- Everyone has their own preference for making the bed. Some like it with hospital corners, all tight and clinical. Others prefer a looser approach, with no tucking in whatsoever. Whatever your preference, just make sure that when your bed is made it looks inviting. Invest in a square European pillow plus some standard pillows and plump them up every day so that they look soft and inviting. Place a comforter at the bottom of the bed to send the message that no matter how cold it gets the comforter is there to warm you and also be available should you choose to nap during the day. If you can get mohair or merino all the better
- Finally, have a look at what you are wearing to bed. If it’s seen better days, it may be time to discard it!
- Find some sleepwear which is just for bed, and continues the theme of natural, calm and pastel. Make sure whatever you sleep in is a natural fibre, which will breathe as the temperature of your body heats up or cools down. Bamboo fibres are particularly good at this, and they are an environmentally friendly choice. The fabric is soft and silky plus absorbs moisture if you get hot
When you approach your bed and your bedroom as your own personal haven you will be amazed at how well it helps you to sleep. Applying sleep hygiene practices ensures that it becomes a special place where you belong, find comfort and most importantly … sleep.