Verity is a Physics with Teaching Bsc (Hons) graduate. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read and play video games.
What Made Me Design My Room for a Deep Sleep
I have struggled with sleep a lot over the past 7 years. My bedtimes and waking times varied wildly from day to day because I just wouldn't be tired when I tried to go to sleep. I have laid in bed for up to four hours tossing and turning but would fall asleep accidentally within minutes of laying down on the sofa. I was waking up exhausted and thrashing around in my sleep, sometimes waking four or five times during the night. There were some nights where I would wake every hour like clockwork, with no idea why.
I decided to tackle this head-on, and made the changes that everyone on the internet tells you to make. I made sure I only used the bedroom for sleep, I stopped doing work in bed or watching movies in bed, I made sure I never brought my laptop into my bedroom at all. I then worked at building a solid routine which became: a late-night snack at 8:30 pm (2 hours before I planned on sleeping), a nice warm drink to help me wind down, fill in my diary for the day, prep my bag and lunch for the next day, change into my PJs, brush my teeth and floss, do some skincare and then listen to some ASMR until 10 pm, take my medications, and then move to my bedroom where I would get into bed and use my phone to put on something on youtube to fall asleep to.
My Routine Helped, But It Wasn't Enough
This dependable routine was very good for me and allowed me to form dependable routines where I got tired around the same time each day and was getting up at the same time each day. However, I was still waking during the night, still tossing and turning, still sometimes struggling with drifting off, was still exhausted upon waking, and was still showing signs of sleep deprivation. So I decided to do some further unique research and tailor my bedroom to provide me with perfect sleep.
In this article, I will mention the research I found, exactly what I did to improve my deep sleep continuity and boost the production of melatonin to aid sleep naturally, and what impact these actions it had on my sleep. After making all of the following changes to my bedroom and bedtime routine I was able to sleep through the night without waking multiple times and improve my deep sleep continuity so that I was not waking up feeling exhausted. I will link to further information where it might be useful. If you have any recommendations that you would like to add, please comment below and I will be happy to try them out!
These Are the Satin Pillowcases I Use
1. Black Sheets and Satin Pillowcases
I like dark colours and black has always felt comforting to me. So I decided to buy sheets in a colour that always made me feel safe, and I got some Egyptian cotton black sheets for my bed. As soon as I looked at my bed when I had put on the new sheets, I felt sleepy. When it got to night time I was excited to climb in and try them out. Being enveloped in new sheets in my favourite colour, in a colour that made me feel safe relaxed me immediately. Now every time I climb into bed with black sheets on, I remember that feeling sinking into my pillows and feeling completely safe and secure. It relaxes me instantly and makes me feel like it is much easier to achieve sleep.
I also decided to try satin pillowcases. I had heard that they are good for skin and reduce the likelihood of your hair tearing and sustaining damage while you sleep. So I thought that I would get them for that at least and that if they helped me sleep that would be a bonus. At first, I was dubious about it and thought it would feel odd and stick to my skin, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think this effect was just a psychological as the black sheets. Sleeping on a satin pillowcase felt luxurious and the idea of treating myself and sleeping like a queen made it easier to relax and think of bedtime as a treat and luxury rather than just a monotonous task to be completed.
Overall these played the psychological trick of making me reframe going to bed as a luxurious and relaxing activity which definitely made it much easier to fall asleep, and actually made me look forward to going to bed rather than dreading it.
2. Colour-Changing Mood Light
I installed a smart bulb in the lamp in my bedroom after I did some research and found that I could use red-light to boost melatonin production and aid with sleep. I turn on the lamp, and set it to red, as soon as I enter my bedroom and I leave it on all night until I wake up in the morning. I have found it works quite well. The coloured light from this bulb is perfect for helping wind down before bed and is much less harsh on the eyes than white light. The red light definitely makes me feel sleepy quickly and since the light is low, I don't get distracted doing anything that would require white light (e.g. cleaning, tidying, reading).
I also tend to get regular migraines which can make sleeping hard. I use this lamp for low, non-white. lighting and I find that it reduces strain on my eyes measurably. It means that I can unwind and rest my eyes enough to be able to fall asleep, even when my head hurts.
I am now at a point where I have no idea how I managed to get by without it and how on earth I managed with harsh white light in my bedroom. I have written a more full review, including set up, which you can find here.
3. Lavender Spray
I am a big believer that smell can play a big role in setting the mood. For example, I can never sleep if I can smell food from the kitchen, I don't know why but I just can't. I was given some advice a long time ago to find a smell that makes me relaxed and always carry that smell around with me to use when I'm stressed and need it. I did not listen to this advice. It was only within the past 2 years that I remembered it and decided to try it out. I experimented with different scents and combinations for months before I found a few that could serve different purposes to me.
Lavender became my go-to sleepy smell. I made myself associate lavender with sleep, in a Pavlovian way. I made my own spray using essential oils, with lavender being the primary scent, and I sprayed my pillow with it every night before I went to sleep. It got to a point eventually where I began to associate the smell of lavender with sleep. I can now use this to trick my brain. If I am not yet feeling tired when I go to bed, or I think I will struggle to fall asleep, I spray my lavender spray and almost instantly get that sleepy feeling. Training my brain like this was very easy and it's almost foolproof, I highly recommend this technique!
4. Weighted Eye Mask
I am very sensitive to light when I sleep, and I have a very large, east-facing, window in my bedroom that is almost the whole wall. I am also quite high in a block of flats, on a hill. As a result, as soon as the sun starts to peek over the horizon, light streams into my bedroom and wakes me up. The past 4 or more eye masks I've had all have an annoying gap around the nose and under the eye that lets in light. I bought this mask with the hope that as it is larger and thicker than traditional masks, it would block out light more, and I was right! The beads in the mask allow the mask to mould itself to the shape of my face. As a result, absolutely no light gets in. I have noticed a remarkable difference in how well the light is completely blocked out and I have been able to sleep right through to my alarm without being woken by the sun.
To sleep better I like to feel pressure against my face. In places that I have lived in the past, I have slept with my head against the wall to provide this sense of pressure. However, in my current apartment, I cannot put my bed against a wall. The heavy feeling of this mask is so comforting. It provides the tactile and 'compression' sensation that relaxes me and really does do for my head what my weighted blanket does for my body.
I would highly recommend investing in an eye mask to anyone who is looking to improve their sleep, especially if you are bothered by light. I sleep through the night now which is a massive difference! I have written a full review of this mask which you can find here, for more detailed information.
5. Lavender Scented Wall Plug-In
This is once again scent-therapy and tricking my brain! I have already described how i use lavender to make myself sleepy but sometimes a little bottle of spray isn't going to do the trick. I work a high-stress job and sometimes after a hard day, it can be difficult to unwind. I sometimes struggle with replaying things in my head and dwelling on it. In situations like this, I find I need longer to unwind before I go to bed.
As a result, I use a lavender-scented plug-in which I turn on as soon as I come home. This means that the whole lavender scent permeates my house and I can use it for longer to help me relax and get me in the mood to sleep. It works very well and I always make sure I have a refill on hand as I do find that after an hour or so, I have begun to relax and can now turn my mind to other thoughts and get ready for sleep.
6. Weighted Blanket
My smartwatch was able to help me identify that I was getting too much light sleep and not enough deep sleep, e.g. I would enter a stage of deep sleep but only stay in it a few minutes before returning to light sleep, meaning that my body was not getting enough of the kind of sleep that helps the body recover, heal and mentally process events.
I decided that I would get a weighted blanket to try and help with this. Once I started using my weighted blanket my deep sleep continuity has gone up from 59/100 to 76/100 which is a massive jump! I don't think it's ever been that high so feels like an improvement. I also haven't wanted to take a nap when I get home from work. This is a big change as I was so tired that I was usually having a nap almost every day when I got home, mostly by accident. That was a very noticeable difference.
I have a shoulder/neck injury that sometimes tightens up if I do not sleep well which leads to a very bad migraine. Since I started sleeping with my weighted blanket, my number of migraines has reduced dramatically. I feel as though the weighted blanket is making me relax more or move less which is putting less strain on my shoulder injury.
I most definitely recommend getting a weighted blanket, it absolutely revolutionised my sleep and allowed me to get the deep sleep I desperately need! I have written a full review of the blanket which you can read here, for more detailed information.
This is the Electric Blanket That I Use
7. Electric Blanket
I am someone who is extremely temperature-sensitive, and I have to admit that I am a big baby about being cold. I hate getting into a cold bed and there have been nights in winter where I have woken up shivering.
As a result, I decided to get an electric under-blanket to go beneath my fitted sheet. From the very second I got it, it made going to bed on cold nights much more relaxing and comfortable experience. I turn on the electric blanket before I go to the bathroom, and I give it time to heat up while I finish my routine. By the time I climb into bed, it is nice and warm and perfect!
Getting into a warm bed feels like being hugged, and it makes me feel safe. The second I feel the heat, I feel my eyes getting heavy. It almost feels like being cradled. It allows me to fall asleep so quickly and feel so much more comfortable Once the heat is there, even after I turn the blanket off, it stays warm which allows me to sleep solidly without waking up cold.
8. Audible Subscription
I am a city girl, I cannot abide in silence. When I try to go to sleep in silence all I can hear is the beat of my heart and the sound of my breathing and it all becomes far too much for me to be able to sleep. So I started putting on videos on my phone to fall asleep to, but the problem with that was that the videos would play loud ads that would give me a fright, and that I couldn't control autoplay so loud videos or music would play and wake me.
I got an Audible subscription and it changed everything! I have my favourite audiobooks and it works so much better to help me get to sleep than a video on Youtube. I like to listen to The Song of Ice and Fire series because the author uses very descriptive language, this helps me draw pictures in my head which distracts me from any thoughts I might have floating around in my head that would prevent me from sleeping. The soft tones of the narrator lull me to sleep. I can also set a timer so that it stops by itself once I am asleep.
I have found since I started listening to stories, I fall asleep so much quicker and it is so much easier to drift off that I don't even notice any more. Sometimes I am asleep within minutes of pressing play!
9. Blue Light Filtering Glasses
My job heavily involves looking at screens all day. I noticed that my eyes were getting tired, itchy and painful around lunchtime. Then it was pointed out to me that I was squinting and narrowing my eyes without realising. It also became a pattern that I would get headaches towards the evening. I also found that when I got home I would need to sit in low light, as bright light would hurt.
I did some research and found that the blue light from screens, can reduce the brain's production of melatonin making it harder to fall asleep. I was recommended some glasses that filter blue light, and reduce the digital eye strain that comes with looking at screens all day.
I noticed quite quickly after a few full days of using these glasses that my eyes felt much less tired at the end of the day. I was able to do more high-quality work for a longer time. This made me much more productive and I found I could work until 8pm without my eyes feeling as though they were prickly. My instances of headaches also dropped.
How quickly I am now able to fall asleep at night time was really surprising. It used to be that my body felt physically tired but when I tried to go to sleep, my brain would not switch off and my eyes would be uncomfortable even when closed. However, after a couple of weeks of wearing these glasses daily, I found that it was much easier for me to fall asleep at night. My eyes were so much more comfortable and wouldn't prickle when I tried to close them. I wrote a full review of these glasses that you can read here, for more detailed information and experiences.
Following all of these steps allowed me to get a full night's sleep, uninterrupted, and improve how long I stay in deep sleep. I have been able to transform my sleep and I can honestly say that since I invested in my bedroom and my bedtime routines my sleep has improved.
I hope that this list has been able to inspire you to find new ways that you can improve your sleep, especially if you can adapt them to suit your tastes and needs. If you try out any of these recommendations feel free to share how it went in the comments below. If you have any recommendations of your own that you would like to make, mention them in the comments and I will try to try them out for myself!
Thank you for reading, sleep well!
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 VerityPrice
Tori Leumas on July 22, 2020:
Nice article. I regularly struggle with sleep. I use a mask and lavender essential oils to help me sleep.