Published January 25, 2012
There’s nothing as frustrating as sleeplessness, with its restless, wasted nights spent tossing and turning, dreading that moment when an alarm clock rouses you from bed at an all-too-early hour. If you suffer from constant bouts of insomnia, you probably know the toll it can take. But rather than reach for the Ambien, consider that maybe your sleeplessness is caused by the room you’re sleeping in. Here are some basic home improvements that can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Keep it Dark and Cool
Sunlight filtering through the blinds can be a harsh wakeup call, robbing you of precious hours of sleep. So to make sure you get your full eight hours, you’ll want something to put an end to unwelcome early morning sunshine.
Blackout curtains, as the name implies, block out any light, keeping the morning sun from waking you. These heavy fabric curtains also offer another benefit: They provide a layer of thermal insulation, which prevents heat from baking your room in the summertime, and cold from getting in during the winter months.
Maintaining the right temperature, of course, is another key to a good night’s sleep. Most people have their thermostats set to around 70 or 71 degrees, which might be fine for the daytime hours, but isn’t optimal for rest. Studies have shown that people sleep better in cooler rooms, so program your thermostat to drop to between 60 and 68 degrees at night. Not only will you save money on your heating bill, but you’ll also sleep much more deeply.
Make Yourself Comfortable
You’ll never get any decent rest if you spend half the night tossing and turning, never able to get comfortable. While a brand new mattress might be an option for some, you should consider a simple mattress pad to give your bed a little extra cushion.
Swapping out old pillows for something that will give you better support can also help you get comfortable and stay comfortable. Traditional pillows stuffed with polyester stuffing tend to lose their shape and firmness after a year, leaving your head and neck all disjointed. Instead try something like Tempur-Pedic’s memory foam pillows, which are a great option for people looking for a little extra support. If you want a softer option, try Mediflow’s waterbase pillow, which features a liquid core beneath a fiber filling.
If noisy neighbors and their howling dogs are keeping you up all night, you need to start soundproofing your bedroom.
Most of the street noise that you hear comes in through the windows, so replacing flimsy single-pane windows with soundproof ones will dramatically cut down on the ruckus from outside. Soundproof windows work with your existing windows, adding a second layer of glass, which creates an air cavity between the two panes to keep noise out. The windows don’t require any construction or changes to the building, so its an option even for renters.
To put a little buffer between you and your downstairs neighbors, a layer of carpet will act as a good sound dampening solution. If you’re not willing to give up your hardwood floors, throw rugs are a cheap, simple alternative.
If you’ve tried all these options and can still hear the neighbor’s nightly arguments, maybe it’s time to fight fire with fire. A white noise machine can replace the constant clatter of city life with a soothing hum of neutral white noise.
Rearrange Your Life
While environmental factors, like noise and light, are an issue for some, many people suffer from insomnia because they simply can’t shut their brain off.
Developing a good bedtime routine, often referred to by experts as “sleep hygiene,” is key to getting rest. Many people make the mistake of using their bedroom as an multipurpose room, spending the hours before bedtime working on a laptop or watching TV. However, the more you do in your bedroom, the more your brain associates your bedroom with activities other than sleeping, which may be what’s keeping you up all night. So get rid of the TV in your bedroom, move the desk to the den, and give your brain a chance to wind down before bedtime.