In many instances in life, you only have power to control how you act, behave, and engage. If someone makes a snide remark, you can control what you say (or don’t say) back to them. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you can breathe and calmly self-regulate your emotional reaction. Attempting to control another human isn’t the wisest course of action; most times, these attempts only explode causing more damage and distress.
If sleep eludes you, there is something you can do to take control of the external factors at play. Within the confines of your own home, you have more control over external circumstances than in most other areas of your life.
The Importance of Sleep Duration
In our last blog, we told you how to determine just how many hours of sleep you need each night. While expert opinion says 7-9 hours is adequate for most adults, listening to your body is the best way to identify your specific sleep requirements. But what about when your sleep duration suffers at the hands of your environment?
Not to worry! With an increased awareness of the importance of sleep as it relates to your health and wellness, you can make gradual, intentional changes to modify your sleep environment and better prepare for the night ahead.
External Factors That Impact Your Sleep Duration
Now that therapeutic strategies exist to redirect our dreamscape, consider the ways you can manipulate environmental variables through practicing better sensory-sleep hygiene:
- Visual – What are your eyes seeing just before you fall asleep? Eliminating electronic glow an hour before bedtime helps prepare your brain waves for more efficient cycles of deep sleep. Try a good, old-fashioned book instead.
- Auditory – Are you a white noise fan sleeper or is your brain addicted to a cacophony of background television noise? To set your mood in the hours before bed, listen to some chill, sleep-friendly tunes. Check out the new song “Weightless” by Marconi Union…it has that surefire zonk-factor!
- Olfactory – Essential oils are known for facilitating good health – try a bedside vial of lavender or chamomile or an aromatherapy pillow spray.
- Tactile – Consider room temperature, thread count, and, of course, mattress quality.
- Gustatory – Those Korean-barbecue chips may not be the last thing you want your digestive system to process at the end of the day. Instead, aim for tryptophan-laced standbys like a banana, warm milk, or chamomile tea, and avoid eating anything just before bed. Like your mind, your body needs time to unwind, relax, and prepare for sleep.
The great thing about achieving the optimal duration of sleep is that we get a fresh, new chance to improve our sleep habits and patterns at the end of every day. To find the sleep duration that’s right for you, embrace a bit of expert advice while knowing that the body’s sleep signals are what really counts. Who has the answers? You do! You just be intentional about listening to your internal cues, prioritizing sleep, and preparing your sleep sanctuary if you’re serious about improving the quality of your sleep.