We’re constantly consuming information to live our best healthy, active life — which means we’re much closer to knowing how to live with our eyes wide open. But how about when our eyes are closed shut?
Sleep is just as important as how we move and what we put in our bodies. And it takes more than just 300-thread-count sheets to give your body the best sleep it deserves — it takes an inviting, peaceful, comfortable bedroom. And if you think you can wake up after five hours of restless sleep, knock back an extra shot of espresso and go about your day, think again.
“Sleep is one-third of our lives, and if it’s not working well, the other two-thirds are likely to suffer,” said Patty Tucker, a California-based independent sleep coach and consultant.
HellaWella spoke with Tucker about the ins and outs of making your bedroom the setting of your best night’s sleep.
I’m a physician assistant, and I practiced medicine for about 22 years. I found there is not enough time in a medical visit to take care of things like sleep. In the last 10 years, I became a specialist in sleep medicine.
There are so many people who aren’t giving sleep its respect. Creating a sanctuary for sleep is one of the first ways to get healthy sleep.
Your room should invite sleep in; it should be wonderful and beautiful; and you should love it. It should be cool, dark, quiet and safe. If any of those things are missing, sleep will be fragmented and elusive.
Wisdom says between 58 and 72 degrees, and that’s a big window. Some will be frozen at 58 and others sweating at 72 — whatever your comfortable temperature is within that range. It should be noticeably lower than the temperature you spend your day in. So if you spend your day in 72 degrees, your bedroom should be 66 or 67 degrees. [Bottom line], for sleep to occur, your body needs to be cooling down.
It’s based on personal comfort. Anything that invites you in, and you say, “I can’t wait to hit my sheets.” It could be silk, satin, microfiber.
You should spend as much money on a mattress as you can afford to spend. How much time do you spend in your car (outside of a city)? It’s a lot, but not as much as we spend in our beds. But how much do you spend on your car? If you buy a $20,000 to $40,000 car and spend three hours in it, why are you spending so little money on a mattress and expecting it to last 10 years?
It should be different than what you wear during the day. A lot of people just fall into bed in their yoga clothes, but there needs to be a clear delineation. For some, that means nothing at all, and that’s OK. Its personal, but it should be reserved for bed.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, it gets a lot more important to have these real strict demarcations. I think when you’re limited in space and you do all activities in a confined area, I think being in pajamas in your office is confusing. But if you come home and throw on your jammies and life is good and you have no difficulty going to sleep, don’t dwell on that.
It’s by person, but it’s more about your physiology and architecture. If you snore or have difficulty breathing, sleeping on your back can make it worse — sleep on your side.
Different pillows can be more supportive for different kinds of sleeping positions. If you sleep on your side, you need a pillow that extends from your neck to your head. If you sleep on your stomach, the pillow should be low so your neck is not craned back.
You need to get more clever and create visual barriers. For example, you can put tropical mosquito nets over your bed. [It should be a] clear signal that when you part the nets and go into bed, you’re in your sanctuary. If you have to multipurpose — such as a daybed that doubles as a bed and couch — make sure you always make your bed so you don’t have [confusing] cues during the day.
When you’re living in one room, you’ve got that computer there, TV, exercise equipment — it’s all in view. You don’t want to be able to see stuff that calls attention from your bed. A folding screen can block your view from that kind of thing.
An hour is minimum. The stimulation of information flow and light exposure that electronics give off prevent the brain from recognizing it’s night. You can’t just get right out of the thick of things and expect sleep to occur.
Never use electronics in bed. The bed is a sleep sanctuary. Your bed is not your office, coffee shop or movie theater. It’s for sleep and sex — that’s it.