Tired of Not Sleeping?
Tired of Not Sleeping?
One Thing You May Not Be Checking to Help Get a Good Night’s Rest!
Have you ever entered your room around bedtime, scanned the area and then, turned around, shut the door and walked out? Maybe you spotted the dirty dishes stacked on your nightstand, the mountain of unfinished laundry or the scattered work papers and bills. And for some reason, you’re no longer tired.
An environment meant to be a sanctuary offering rest and relaxation quickly becomes a space that you can often avoid. Sleep no longer becomes a necessity, but rather an activity that you can replace with an easy escape…like binge-watching five Netflix episodes in a row!
When our sleep is consistently poor, we start asking “why?” – have we eaten too close to bedtime, had too much caffeine during the day, recently changed our medications, experienced unresolved relational conflict, endured yet another fluctuation in our mood? Although these are all extremely valid and important questions to be asking ourselves when it comes to our sleep, we often forget to consider one very large piece of the puzzle: our environment.
Yes, that’s correct! The quality of our sleep environment can directly impact the quality of sleep that we experience each and every night. Thankfully, the door to our bedroom doesn’t have to stay shut forever.
Let’s look at how we can slowly transform our sleep environment into a place of rest and peace.
#1 - Prepare to Open the Door
Change does not happen overnight! Currently, our sleep environment may feel too overwhelming to address; or maybe sleep is just not a priority to us right now. Often times, before we agree that change is necessary, we must first explore the “why.” In this case, why is a healthy night’s sleep so important for our overall well-being? Starting small by educating ourselves on the impact that sleep has on our day-to-day lives can provide us with just the right amount motivation to pause our Netflix episode and gently open the door to address our sleep environment. According to the Thrive workbook, the quality of our sleep directly impacts the quality of our waking life, including our attention, motivation, moods and emotions, problem-solving skills and our ability to cope with stress.
Tip: A simple Google search can reveal how the quality of your sleep life impacts your waking life. This week, use the internet to learn one new thing about sleep and watch how it helps to build motivation for change in your life!
#2 - Try Marie Kondo-ing (aka tidying up!).
We’ve all had those moments of arriving back at our room, apartment or home and anxiously asking ourselves how our space became so disheveled. In moments of stress, when we feel defeated by anxiety or depression or when we’re simply overwhelmed by the amount of commitments on our plate, the space where we sleep can quickly feel cluttered and out of control. Is it the loose work papers, dirty clothes, excess school books, electronics or miscellaneous items that we typically tell ourselves we’ll put away “later” (and we all really know that “later” quickly becomes “never!”)? In order to begin associating this space with sleep, relaxation and rest, it’s important to minimize the distractions that pull our thoughts and emotions to places other than sleep.
Tip: Choose one area of your room to tidy up this week. Maybe begin by organizing a portion of your closet, relocating all of your work items into another room (if available) or out of sight near bedtime, collecting trash items and dirty dishes or finding a new home for the miscellaneous items that have accumulated on your nightstand. If feeling bold, remove the electronic items that so easily keep us up into the wee hours of the night!
#3 - Creatively customize.
Have you ever booked a massage after a long week or while on vacation and noticed your surroundings once you arrived? The temperature of the room is usually just perfect. The lighting is dim and easy on the eyes. The room is clean and clutter free with a smell that makes you want to breathe deep and slow. The soft sound of running water takes your mind to a beautiful scene in nature. Within minutes, the environment starts to impact how you think and feel. Settings like this don’t just have to exist in spas or wellness centers; we can create environments that evoke rest, peace and calm in our very own homes.
Tip: Choose one new way that you will bring calm to your sleep area. For example, try a white noise machine that plays calming nature sounds, use a diffuser to emit relaxing scents to prepare you for sleep, find blackout curtains to create the optimal sleep lighting, or use a fan to circulate the air and keep the room at a relaxing temperature.
We’d love to know what you do to help create your own healthy sleep environment! Share in the comment section below or on Facebook or Instagram!
*Are you using our Thrive Workbook? Have you used this tool in the Sleeping Well chapter? Thrive is an in-depth, self-directed whole-health guide proven to reduce depression, anxiety, etc., improve daily life and renew your life in Christ. Let us know your experience and/or other ideas on how you get a healthy amount of sleep and rest by posting on Facebook or Instagram and tagging @thegracealliance or leaving a comment below!
Natalie Franks, M.A., OTR/L / Executive Director of Programs, The Grace Alliance