If you’re already struggling with snoring, a less-than-optimum mattress, room temperature and other factors can make matters worse. Sleeping in a healthy environment can help your sleep overall and, depending upon the changes you make, may help reduce your nighttime snoring.
Many people don’t realize how uncomfortable their sleep situation actually is. We get used to the conditions we’ve created and we can’t imagine there’s a better way. But there is. Here are the best ways to get your best night’s sleep by changing your sleep environment.
- Make sure your mattress is supportive and comfortable. Most mattresses wear out and lose their shape and supportive qualities within 5-7 years, so if it’s been a while since you’ve been mattress-shopping, now may be the time. Contrary to what you may have heard, an extra-firm may not be your best bet. Everyone’s body is different. Try out a number of mattresses to see which type is best for you.
- Get a supportive pillow. A sleep pillow can be ideal. Here is one place that firmness generally is the rule, but also take into consideration how the pillow places your head. When lying down on your side or back, your head and neck should be in a basically straight line. If not, your airway will be more compromised than it should be during sleep, which is one major factor in snoring.
- Reduce allergens in your bedroom (and your entire house). Make sure your air ducts are
cleaned regularly – at least once a year. Purchase bedding that is non-irritating and “breathable” and clean it regularly. Dust and vacuum on a regular schedule to keep allergens down. Don’t keep flowers that produce pollen in your bedroom, and make sure there is good air circulation.
- Make sure your bedroom isn’t too hot. Many sleep experts recommend a temperature of 65-68F in the bedroom. A too-warm bedroom can contribute to insomnia, as the body naturally lowers in temperature during sleep and too much heat sends a confusing signal to your brain and body. Too much heat can also contribute to “stuffiness,” which will further compromise your breathing, and may contribute to snoring.
- If your room is very dry, get a humidifier. Make sure you clean it regularly per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Install dark curtains or blinds. In an “electricity” society, we’re used to at least a little bit of light at all times, but in nature, our bodies would receive only the light of the moon depending upon its phase, the stars and perhaps a low fire. Your best sleep will come when you can make conditions as dark as possible.
- Take ALL electronics out of the bedroom if possible. If you’re willing to give it a try, take out the TV. Don’t keep your computer or laptop in your bedroom and remove your cell phone and tablet. Your goal is to make your bedroom a place for relaxation, cuddling (if you have a partner) and sleep, not electronic-based activity, which keeps the brain in a too-awake, aware state.
- Keep your bedroom as uncluttered as possible. Even if you’re not exactly Spartan in your decor style for the rest of the house, keep only a few large pieces – your bureau, bed, a mirror and a few photos and wall hangings, for example – in your bedroom. Too much “stuff” overwires the brain and doesn’t allow for falling into a restful sleep as easily as a neat, non-confusing room does.
- Make sleep rituals. Always make your bed; this way, your “it’s time to sleep” signal will be turning down the covers. Keep to a regular sleep time if possible. Before heading for bed, do the same thing each night: turn off all lights, feed your pet, give the house one last check-over, brush your teeth, etc. These rituals will eventually become associated with sleep, and your mind and body will automatically begin to relax in response to them.
- Believe it or not, smell is important in getting to sleep, and sleeping restfully with regular breathing rather than the stop-and-start of snoring. Consider aromatherapy; chamomile and lavender are ideal for this. Make sure your bedding is always clean and smells fresh and welcoming.
- If you live in a busy area and there are always noises outside your door, try “white noise.” This can be as simple as a fan, or as high-tech as a white noise machine.
- Make sure you’re hydrated before sleep. Don’t over-consume – you don’t want to be waking up multiple times during the night to visit the bathroom – but dehydration can contribute to irritation and inflammation of the airways and can make snoring worse. Have a nice warm cup of herbal tea or half a glass of water before calling it a day. If you have issues with frequent urination, see your doctor, or if your condition is mild, have the drink 45 minutes before bedtime so you have a chance to visit the bathroom before you get into bed.
Above all, see your bedroom as a sanctuary; an island of calmness and comfort. Every touch you add to your bedroom (or take away from it) should be with that aim in mind. The more you can relax, the better your night’s sleep will be.