How to Turn Your Bedroom into a Perfect Sanctuary for Deep Sleep
We sleep when we feel safe.
For over 25 years I have been drawing people’s attention to this vital connection between feeling safe and being able to let go of the day and sleep deeply and restoratively. Maybe this harks back to the days of being a caveman or woman when we needed to constantly assess our environment in order to determine whether we were feeling safe or not for our survival. If we felt safe, we could retire to our caves and sleep peacefully.
Sleep and the nervous system
Our nervous system is designed along the premise of feeling safe or not safe. The Autonomic Nervous System is divided into two main branches – the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS enables us to fight or flee threats. When we are in this part of our nervous system we are under stress, feel threatened, and run on the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. We are in survival mode. In the PNS, we feel safe. This is the so-called ‘rest and digest’ part of the nervous system, and this is when we are able to completely let go of our day and sleep deeply.
Our nervous system is additionally equipped with a sensing system called ‘neuroception’, which is our ability to constantly scan and sense our environment to determine whether or not we are safe. Most of this happens below the level of our conscious perception – we don’t even realise we are doing it a lot of the time but we all know the feeling of walking into a room and knowing which table we’d prefer to sit at or whether the room has a good vibe or not.
This is all relevant to the set-up of your bedroom. Our bedrooms make us feel safe or not safe – the smell, sight, sounds, touch and feel all combine to inform our nervous system whether we can let go and rest. This is particularly the case if you are a sensitive sleeper who needs things to be just right before they can sleep – you need your pillow, your side of the bed, the curtains to be closed, and your favourite scented candles. Some people have more sensitive nervous systems than others, but we can all benefit from creating peaceful sanctuaries for our bedrooms as we will simply sleep better.
Tips for Creating Your Sleep Sanctuary
We are all unique and, as such, we need to think about what would make us feel more peaceful and safe, but here are some good ways to get started:
Declutter your room and keep the space clear and free of paperwork and piles of laundry.
Clear your room of technology – ideally your phone would not be in your bedroom or it would at least be switched off or on silent. The best timekeeping device you can use is a small alarm clock but try to avoid checking the time during the night as this just keeps you awake and fretting.
3. Sights, sounds and smells
Think about what would make you feel most relaxed and calm and able to let go of the stresses of the day. The lighting is particularly important as, in the evening, it is crucial to lower the lighting levels so that your brain can produce its optimal amount of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Harsh, bright lighting has the opposite effect. Using essential oils such as lavender in your sleep space can also help you to relax and let go. The colours and shades of in your bedroom are key too – opt for colours and tones that make you feel relaxed and calm. If you tend to wake at the slightest sound, having some form of white noise in your bedroom such as a fan or even a white noise soundtrack (e.g. rainfall or birdsong) can help to act as a buffer against external noises intruding into your sleep.
4. How your fabrics feel
Mattresses and bedclothes – have a think about the fabrics for your sheets and duvet ideally choosing ones that enable you to feel comfortable and cool. Explore the Oak Tree Adjustable bed range to find the mattress that is just right for you.
5. Optimal temperature and ventilation
Ideally your room temperature needs to be cool. It depends on each person but ideally aim for 16-19C for optimal sleep and rest.
These are just a few tips to get you going and hopefully, now that you understand how important it is for your nervous system to feel safe and calm, you will enjoy creating the perfect bedroom sanctuary that will enable you to the get the restorative sleep that you need and deserve.