Sneaky Sleep Thieves: The Physical Environment and Better Sleep

Sneaky Sleep ThievesThe quality of your sleep is the product of a hodgepodge of factors: Mental, physical, emotional, ongoing habits and once-in-a-while behaviors. Your thoughts can keep you awake at night; so can residual negative emotions or stressors from the day; so can feeling physically uncomfortable. Sometimes, sleeping well means experimenting toward exactly the right recipe of ingredients for a good night’s rest. Perhaps the easiest set of factors to fix are the physical.

The mattress company Casper created an educational graphic about some of the sneakier sleep thieves, factors in our bedrooms and our lives that can disrupt sleep without us realizing it:


Given that Casper makes mattresses, I appreciate that their focus is not solely on the physical aspects of sleep hygiene. That said, a sense of physical comfort in the bedroom can make the difference between a restless and a restful night. I’ve experienced this firsthand, especially with major life changes such as moving to new homes or moving in with my husband. A few of my favorite tips for making the bedroom comfortable:

Keep intruders out. This was a hard one for me, but was a major factor in sleeping better. My cats are no longer allowed in my bedroom, to their enduring chagrin (and sometimes mine). I developed a late-in-life cat allergy that means cat fur on my pillows is sneeze city. I miss my warm little buddies curled up on my legs, but the payoff in not being awaken by allergies and (literal) catfights is worth it. Even if you don’t have allergies, keeping kids and pets out of the bedroom can help make it a more restful place.

Go shopping. Revamping your bed and bedroom can help with being more comfortable at night. I’ve recently gotten a new pillow and a new mattress and saw an immediate improvement in my sleep after each purchase. Companies like Casper and its competitors (including Tuft and Needle and Leesa) offer well-priced memory foam mattresses that are delivered to your home in a box, and can help sleep by absorbing the motion from a restless spouse (or so says AN ANONYMOUS FRIEND WHO IS DEFINITELY NOT ME). We also bought blackout curtains for our windows which keeps streetlight glare to a minimum. So, whip out your credit card . . . for your health.

Fill the air with white noise. I was not a believer in the white noise machine when we first bought one. But after using it for a few weeks, I discovered it made a big difference in my sleep quality. I chalk this up to two reasons: First, the noise itself masks disturbing sounds such as street noise (but unfortunately, not including irate cats who don’t understand why they can’t come visit). Second, the noise has gotten associated with falling asleep in my mind, creating a new habit cycle that helps me drift away at night. If you don’t want to buy a dedicated white noise machine, there are many apps that accomplish the same purpose. (Also great to listen to on flights.)

Choose a sleeping scent. This is not essential, but it can be nice to have a soothing scent in your bedroom that reminds you of feeling relaxed and sleepy. Choose a candle or linen spray in a scent you like but don’t use elsewhere in the house. Light the candle before bed, or spray your pillows an hour or two before turning in. After a while, you’ll begin to associate that smell with sleep. There’s one essential oil I have where just cracking the cap off the jar makes me want to yawn.

These are just a few of the ways you can remake your physical environment for better sleep. I’d love to hear what else has worked for you. Let me know in the comments, and check out the Casper graphic for more ideas.

This post was not sponsored and all opinions are my own.