A Better Night’s Sleep
Have you noticed how the “Sleep” industry has exploded in size and offerings? It doesn’t seem that long ago when there were a couple of mattress options – firm or soft. Who can forget about water beds – did any of you have those at one point?
Then Sleep Number created a bed with adjustable firmness. Better yet – on their king beds each side could be different. Revolutionary! Next thing you know, our mattresses can raise or lower our feet and moderate our temperature. Throw in a seemingly endless array of sheets and pillows, and our obsession with a good night’s rest is only increasing.
There is good reason to be concerned about sleep: “Poor quality sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke” according to WebMD. “Other potential problems include obesity, depression, reduced immune system function, and lower sex drive.”
Fabulous sheets, pillows, and mattresses won’t solve your sleep problems if you have a poorly designed bedroom.
Here are three things to think about when buying or building a home:
1. Eliminating unwanted noises from outside the bedroom
2. Eliminating unwanted noises within the bedroom
3. Controlling the light
Item 1. Thanks in large part to the baby monitor, the primary bedroom is split away from the kids’ rooms. Once the kids reach a certain age, parents don’t need (or want) to hear them – they just want to get sleep. Typically, the primary bath, closet, or both becomes the acoustical buffer. Locating the secondary bedrooms on the opposite end of the house or on a different floor is even better so long as they are not directly above the primary bedroom.
When the unwanted noise comes from outside the home, a different approach needs to be considered. Double or triple-pane windows can be a big help – but consider adding an ambient sound such as a water feature.
Item 2. The most common unwanted noise inside the room (other than the alarm clock) is a snoring partner. Unfortunately, this becomes more common as we age. Things that contribute to snoring are aging, weight gain, and alcohol. Many individuals wear earplugs at night or use a white noise machine. An increasingly common solution is to have separate sleeping areas.
Item 3. Perhaps you have heard about blue light and how it messes with our sleep as it inhibits our production of melatonin – or the sleep hormone. Blue light sources include televisions, smartphones and tablets, LED light bulbs, and computer monitors.
There are a lot of people who look at these devices right before bed (guilty), making it harder to fall asleep. An old fashion incandescent bedside lamp and a book are better pre-sleep alternatives.
Controlling the light inside your bedroom once you turn off your bedside lamp is also critical, according to Dave Asprey, author of Super Human. He advocates for a pitch-dark room for sleeping. Then wake up gently with circadian light – a light source that comes on dimly and is warm in color – like the sun rising in the sky. I’m not sure how practical a pitch-dark room is for folks 55 and older whose bladders won’t let them sleep through the night without a trip or two to the bathroom.
The science and business of sleep has become one of the most important industries to our health and well-being. Do what you can to make your bedroom more conducive to a good night’s sleep!
Adapted from Housing Design Matters Blog