Have you ever had the kind of night when everything seems to work against your best efforts to sleep soundly? From work stress to bedroom mess to blood sugar levels, a number of issues may affect a person’s ability to get a full night’s sleep. If you regularly have a hard time sleeping or are frequently tired when you wake up in the morning, it’s a good idea to talk about sleep with your doctor. If you have diabetes, you should also ask about checking your blood sugar level before bed as a regular part of your routine. A little planning can help create a sleep space that invites tranquility rather than tension.
Good sleep quality – and quantity – is essential for your body to work its best, no matter how much society puts a “badge of honor” on those who seem to get by on as little slumber as possible. But while everyone has different needs in terms of their optimal sleep space, some people require a place that is safe, comfortable, dark, and quiet. “While some can sleep in a crowded room, most people are not so flexible,” says Dr. Shara Sand, Psy.D., a New York City-based psychologist. “The right space can be comforting and facilitate a certain feeling of control within what is a fairly vulnerable state.”
In today’s world, where bedrooms are often multifunctional places in which you exercise and work as well as unwind, a well-designed space can be a great investment toward getting better sleep and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. “It doesn’t take much time or effort to prepare your sleep space for shut-eye instead of stimulation,” says Dr. Sand, “just a little advance planning and some upkeep to stay on track. “We’re a sleep-deprived nation,” she adds, “But you need more and better sleep than you might think to be healthy and balanced.”
Dr. Sand recommends getting started by ridding your bedroom of “stress-inducing and sleep-depriving electronics like smartphones or laptops.” Then, try these tips from Sacramento-based interior designer Kerrie Kelly, the author of Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide and My Interior Design Kit, for creating a tranquil space in which to rest:
Choose a quiet color. “The right color can make your bedroom feel like a retreat,” notes Kelly, who says “new neutrals,” which are basically low-intensity versions of colors such as green, are quiet, low-key hues ideal for walls and floors even when the color is spread over a large area. Dr. Sand agrees that “bright lights and bright colors can interfere with sleep for many people.”
Clear the clutter with smart storage. “For many, clutter can create a feeling of chaos – but shelves, wall hooks and boxes are simple storage solutions that can help create the sense of a calm refuge,” says Kelly. “A trunk,” she adds, “can do double-duty as a bench at the end of the bed, while a wicker basket with a spiffy cover can be used as a nightstand.”
Pick a sleep-inducing scent. “Rev up your relaxation by incorporating the right smell into your bedroom through candles, linen sprays, and even drawer liners, Kelly suggests. Lavender and jasmine scents have, in some cases, been associated with a better night’s sleep.”
Lose the bright lights: “Dimmable light is a must for creating an environment for a good night’s sleep, “says Kelly. Even better? “Consider lighting that can be remotely turned off or has a button on the headboard so you can ease into sleep without getting up,” she says.
Splurge on sheets: “If you can,” Kelly suggests, “consider a splurge on high-quality cotton sheets, or a soft and luxurious blanket, which will make you feel cozy and pampered. Finally, a down comforter with a duvet cover can offer lightweight comfort that is still warm enough to keep you at the right toasty temperature for optimal sleep.”
Once your physical sleep space is ready, try to be mentally ready, as well. “Sleep is an altered state of consciousness that you need to prepare to get into, and stress is the worst way to try to make that journey. When the wheels are turning, it triggers a kind of anxiety,” says Dr. Sand. “Before trying to fall asleep, try helping your body and mind get in a more relaxed state with some relaxing music, gentle stretching/restorative yoga, or reading a few pages.”
You can also check out the 8 Tips for 8 Hours of Sound Sleep Discuss Diabetes post to find even more ideas on getting a good night’s sleep.
Sharon Goldman is a New Jersey-based freelance writer who has written on health, fitness, and nutrition for such publications as Health, Self, Marie Claire, Whole Living, Yoga Journal, and EatingWell. Her family history of diabetes inspires her to learn more about how to try and stay healthy by eating right, exercising, and reducing stress. Goldman is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor and interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience