Who doesn’t love a good snooze? Getting quality sleep serves to reduce feelings of tiredness, but it also has a mind-boggling array of effects on our bodies, our mental health, and our long-term wellness. As far as our brains go, studies have shown that getting a proper night’s rest is essential for our waking cognition, processing memories, and emotional regulation. What’s more, regularly getting good sleep can also reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or even dementia. Since it’s so valuable for us to sleep well, we thought it was high time we shared some of the best ways to achieve that perfect bedtime ambiance to ensure we get those much-needed z’s.
The best way to go about setting the ambiance is by thinking about our five senses: smell, sight, touch, taste, and hearing.
1. Pick the Perfect Scent
As far as smell goes, there’s a wealth of scientific evidence that tells us that aromas can have an array of different effects on our psyche. Lavender is an excellent choice for improving sleep (and making your bedroom smell divine). One study even showed that inhaling lavender oil could potentially induce deeper and more stable sleep by increasing brainwaves known as delta waves, which help to stimulate deep sleep, while simultaneously decreasing alpha waves, which are linked to wakefulness! To put a cherry on top of this aromatic brilliance, those people who slept breathing in lavender oil also reported feeling more energized the following day. Pop a couple of drops in your diffuser and see if it makes your night any better!
2. It’s in Your Sights
Now, this tip is very open to interpretation. In terms of the sense of sight and ambiance, if we’re trying to make the ambiance of our sleeping spaces perfect, then finding aesthetic qualities that appeal to us as individuals is vital. Some people like having tons of pillows, some like having nice artwork on their walls, and some (including me) like to have their lamp game on point.
Let’s talk about lamps!
The type of light that we’re exposing ourselves to before bed can also have a real impact on our quality of sleep. The thing with light is that our bodies are hardwired to feel more awake during the day, and in recent years, the availability of night-time lighting has made having a good night’s sleep more challenging. The way it works is that light suppresses melatonin (the hormone that helps us sleep), and the very worst type of light for this, known as “blue light,” tends to come from screens, phones, or LEDs. So, the best way to combat this is by limiting our exposure to this type of light before bed by using red lights, which have the least impact on our melatonin levels! When setting up your bedroom ambiance, have a look around your local hardware store and see if you can find some red (energy-saving) bulbs!
3. The Sense of Touch
When setting ambiance, another critical factor is how our sleeping spaces feel! People tend to agree that sleeping somewhere soft and comfortable is the ideal way to slumber. But, it all depends on what works best for you — perhaps you prefer a lot of pillows, maybe you like memory foam, or sleeping on a hard, firm mattress. Think about what would make you feel the most comfortable and at ease. Another key factor is your sleeping temperature. Studies have shown that sleeping in colder spaces can negatively impact your quality of sleep. This means that keeping your room warm and toasty can go a long way towards getting that perfect ambiance! If your room’s drafty, investigate some stick-on excluders. If your heating isn’t the best, see about getting a hot water bottle or an electric blanket. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
4. Keep it Tasteful
While it’s important to consider the aesthetics of your room, what I’m referring to is the literal sense of taste: the ideal foods that’ll put you in the mood for sleep.
Ambience is all about how you feel in a space, and if you’ve just had something delicious, that could also help you get into the headspace for sleepy times! Don’t worry, night-time snacks don’t necessarily have to be a hazard for our fitness goals; there are hundreds of healthy options when it comes to foods that can ease us into sleep (but remember that it’s important not to eat anything for at least 2 hours before bed). The key here is to choose light foods that contain high quantities of that wonderful, sleep-inducing hormone: melatonin. Good examples are fruits like cherries, grapes, and strawberries, or other foods like nuts and mushrooms! Next time you’re getting your room’s ambiance just right, why not have a cheeky snack of some nuts and berries?
5. Hear, Hear!
When it comes to ambience, hearing is my all-time favorite sense to consider. This could mean making sure your room is wonderfully silent by closing doors and sealing windows, or it could mean putting on some sounds that’ll stimulate your mind in such a way that’ll soon have you dozing off to dreamland! Now, when it comes to picking night-time sounds, there are two paths we can follow. White noise is the first, and music is the second.
In terms of white noise, putting on rain sounds or simple static helps a lot of people. The theory is that all-encompassing sounds can drown out any distracting background noises in your sleeping environment, but science shows us that this is not always an ideal solution. For some people, it works great, and for others, it can disrupt sleep. Basically, you won’t know until you try it. Now, on to the music. This is also a rather personal thing, and the key here is what type of music we’re listening to. Research suggests that relaxing, slow tempo music can improve the quality of sleep, especially when it’s self-selected. This means that the best way to use sound as a sleep aid is by selecting the right type for you!
So, there you have it: 5 tips for cultivating the perfect ambience for sleep, based on the 5 senses. Now it’s time to experiment and see what suits you!
Remember: We’re rooting for you!