What is keeping you awake? Eliminate clutter...Eisui
If you are having trouble sleeping, your bedroom could be to blame.
Too many people clutter their sleep environment with reminders of daytime responsibilities: a desk piled with bills, a computer with e-mail, a fax machine, a telephone . . .
Combine that with an increase in street noise and outside light filtering in from streetlights and outdoor security systems. It’s no wonder insomnia caused by environmental factors is on the rise.
The good news is the sleep environment is controllable and, with some attention to details, you can design a good night’s sleep.
As many as 43 percent of American adults suffer from insomnia, according to this year’s National Sleep Foundation Gallup poll. If you cannot identify a cause for your sleeplessness, specialists advise taking inventory of your sleep environment. Identify what may be sabotaging your sleep in the bedroom and redesign that space.
SLEEP, NOT WORK
In today’s houses where space is at a premium, many rooms must do double duty. Often, the bedroom also functions as a home office or a private area for parents with a TV set. All this equipment, experts say, is not conducive to sleep.
“People are clueless when it comes to designing their bedrooms for their fundamental purposes — sleep and sex — yet wonder why they have insomnia when their rooms are filled with so many distractions,” explains Al Reichert, technical supervisor of the Sequoia Sleep Disorders Center in Redwood City.
“Some people have virtual offices in their bedrooms — computers, e- mail, faxes, telephone — and then can’t figure out why they can’t sleep,” remarks Reichert.
Choose a peaceful wake up - The Z E N Alarm Clock - the only clock with natural sounds
The body actually has a physiological response to its environment, experts say. But since people aren’t usually aware of this response, linking work space in the bedroom with sleeping problems may be difficult.
“Any activity that is associated with being awake in the bedroom, like work, can be a problem,” explains Dr. Jerrold Kram of the California Center for Sleep Disorders in Oakland.
“It is an even more extreme problem for people who work in bed — answering the phone, reading important papers, studying and taking notes,” says Kram. “Their body becomes ingrained with being awake in bed, and any awake activity — defined as an activity that requires alertness — is not what you want to perpetuate in an environment intended for sleep.”
If space constraints preclude emptying the bedroom of work-related paraphernalia, consider separating work and sleep spaces in the room. A freestanding partition or decorative screen can enclose the bed for a cozy sleep environment. Adding a sleeping loft above the work space for the bed can also distinguish working and sleeping spaces.
Environmental noise is a huge issue, especially for people who must sleep during the day because of work schedules. But noise can even affect the quality of sleep for those who sleep at night — especially if they live on a busy street, near an airport or train station, or with a snoring bedmate.
“When I started in this business of sleep disorders, it didn’t dawn on me that people can get accustomed to noise, and not recognize that it can still be disruptive or problematic,” says Kram. “Someone will come in and say, ‘I sleep badly; I wake up a lot,’ but have no idea what woke them.”
Kram relates studies in which a bell was rung every two or three minutes near sleeping patients.
“When the patient was asked in the morning if they remembered the bell ringing, they responded, `What? Are you out of your mind? There was no bell!’
“But when we examined their brain waves, they had had an awakening or arousal for a few seconds every three minutes. These arousals cause fragmented sleep and result in sleep deprivation.”
Fragmented sleep can result in an achy feeling, lack of concentration and mental fatigue the next day.
White noise neutralizes jarring, intermittent sounds. Installing a fan or air conditioner in the room not only provides white noise but also controls the temperature for comfortable sleep.