Creative Eldering: Sleep Well For Your Health
For centuries, people in all cultures have developed lullabies to encourage sleep, especially for infants and children. Adults find them pleasurable and effective as well. In 1849, Johannes Brahms composed a beautiful lullaby that has endured for almost two centuries. His relaxing lullaby is very popular and, of course, is available in many different styles online.
Soft music, or a relaxing ambience can set the stage for your valuable and rejuvenating sleep. Numerous other lifestyle habits and factors can help you achieve restorative sleep.
To help yourself design a better sleep experience, imagine that you are preparing your home environment for an infant’s undisturbed sleep. Yes, you get to design the sleep environment appropriate for an infant, and then play the role of the sleeping infant.
Let me share a few of the most basic principles to use in preparing your room and immediate environment for sleep.
Obviously, you would want the bedroom to have a comfortable temperature, and proper lighting (this means an absence of artificial light, and effective blocking of sunlight). Other important factors are providing for the absence of noise pollution and electromagnetic pollution, or at least minimizing them to the best of your ability. Each person will have to determine their own optimal temperature for comfortable sleeping. You may want to look at this article about sleeping in a cooler room.
Keeping your bedroom in the range from 60 to 68°F (15 to 20°C) is highly recommended by some sleep experts. For our purposes we are considering the optimal sleeping temperature for adults, and momentarily breaking with our metaphor of preparing the environment for the sleeping baby. But no matter the age of the individual being prepared for sleep, the temperature must be comfortable to them. For adults, having a cooler room temperature and the option of extra layers of night wear, and blankets or quilts is ideal.
Sleeping in a cooler room has quite a few advantages. The cooler sleeping room facilitates falling to sleep and staying asleep, it even promotes a longer and deeper sleep. Being in a cooler room increases your body’s own melatonin production which helps balance all your hormones and is extremely good for brain health and mental clarity.
Imagine making your bedroom seem like a dark cave for your sleep experience. Feel free to use all kinds of lighting for other times of day. Look into installing blackout curtains or blinds or adding a black lining to your existing curtains. You could do a preliminary experiment of draping dark material or even black plastic bags over your windows to evaluate the effect before you invest in anything more costly. Whatever the investment ultimately is, it will be worthwhile. Promoting darkness in your bedroom promotes ease of falling asleep and staying asleep.
Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom and add a significant distance away, such as the other end of your home. If you absolutely feel you need to have a clock visible in the room, try to minimize the light output from the clock and keep it at a distance from your bed. Sometimes it is difficult to balance the principle of keeping the bedroom very dark and fall prevention safety. You may need small nightlights to help with navigating to the bathroom at night. Perhaps you can have a nightlight in the bathroom, or in the hallway and not right in the bedroom. This is a very important personal choice to closely consider.
Next, eliminate noise pollution from your bedroom. Hopefully this will not be complicated. You may be able to use insulated window coverings that not only block unwanted light, but unwanted sound from entering your bedroom. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom as much is possible since they typically emanate some type of associated noise, not to mention the electromagnetic pollution consequences. Now is a good time to review chapter 9, Electromagnetic Pollution in YOUR BODY CAN TALK, second edition. Do your best to segregate noise away from your bedroom. This may include house rules concerning radio, television, videos and the like being silenced before bedtime, no matter what part of the house these may be in. Sound waves can carry great distances and penetrate walls, floors, and doors. If you are plagued by noise pollution that you cannot control, you may need to counter this with an appropriate sound or noise of your own. White noise has been used and suggested for decades. This is a background, but non-obtrusive sound that can mask noise pollution. White noise generators can be used, or melodic soft and gentle music at a low volume may be another option.
Another solution may be to add insulation to areas that need more protection from external sources of noise. This might include additional insulation to walls, ceilings, or floors. More simplistically, rolled up beach towels laid at the bottom of your bedroom door or other innovative measures may be just what you need. Earplugs might even be a last resort to combat the onslaught of unwanted noise pollution.
The bottom line is, the more you prepare your bedroom to seem like a cave at night, the more your environment will foster your sleep. If you want to learn more about sleep, the stages of sleep, supplements and nutrients that help promote sleep and other lifestyle practices to assist you, read pages 336 through 342 about insomnia and sleep disturbances in YOUR BODY CAN TALK, second edition. Sweet dreams!
Article written By Susan L. Levy, D. C.
Author of “Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition” and “Your Aging Body Can Talk”
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