7-Day Sleep Challenge: Create the Right Sleep Space

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Your bedroom arrangement can help (or hurt) your sleep. Here are 5 simple ways to set a cozy stage for sweet dreams.

Keep up with the 7-Day Sleep Challenge here.

Having trouble drifting off? If you’re tossing and turning — and waking up more tired than you were the night before — there could be an easy solution. Hint: It’s not a glass of wine or a sleeping pill. “It’s turning your bedroom into a restful, relaxing haven,” says senior fitness expert Larysa DiDio.

And you don’t need a big DIY budget. Some simple fixes can make all the difference, she adds. Try these five tips:

1. Keep it cool. A bedroom temperature of 60 to 67 degrees is ideal, so crank down the thermostat before you head to bed. Overheating is a common reason many older adults wake up in the middle of the night. It’s better to have layers of bedding that are easy to push aside if you start to feel too warm instead of hitting the sack wearing thick, fuzzy pajamas.

And if it’s practical to do so, pop open your window. A 2017 study showed that the extra oxygen helped people fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night.

2. Cut the clutter. Is your bedroom a catch-all for reading materials, piles of laundry, or knick-knacks? Time for a quick tidy-up. Studies show that people living with clutter are more stressed out and less likely to sleep soundly. So clear away piles of paper and clothes from your nightstand, floor, and bed for a more restful night.

“Your bedroom should be one of the most inviting rooms in your house,” says DiDio. “You should look forward to looking at your cozy sleep space.”

3. Eliminate electronics. Ban those smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets from your room. In a 2020 study, using electronic devices in bed reduced sleep duration and quality. But more than 90 percent of Americans use electronic devices right before bed, checking email, catching up with social media, watching videos. Trouble is, most electronic devices emit blue light that can make it tough to fall asleep and keep you from feeling refreshed in the morning.

Catching up on work emails at bedtime is never a good idea, but if a relaxing novel on your e-reader helps you drift off to dreamland, be sure to switch it over to nighttime mode first.

4. Add a houseplant. A bit of greenery in your bedroom not only looks pretty, it can also zap your levels of stress. And let’s face it: Insomnia is often connected to worries and anxieties. One study showed that plants help to regulate our emotions through their colors and fragrances. Best choices: strawberry plants increase positive emotions, while coriander improves sleep latency — that’s the amount of time it takes to drift off to dreamland.

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5. Listen to music. Playing soft music for 45 minutes before bedtime for about a month improves sleep, says a recent study.  And the sounds of nature could be music to your ears as well. One study shows that they activate the part of the brain that induces relaxation, which makes it the perfect prelude to sleep.

Can’t open your window to let soothing night sounds in? Try a white noise machine. Choose one that plays soothing sounds like pattering rain or waves lapping gently on the shore.

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