2 minute read

7 ways to conquer insomnia with the ideal sleep environment

By Kirsty Mason | Medically reviewed by Dr Luke Pratsides

Sleep is invaluable. It promotes sharp concentration, aids memory consolidation, and combats stress. Sleep is irreplaceable and any absence of the good stuff will weigh down on both your mind and body. That’s right - lack of sleep is associated with weight gain

Many studies have replicated the findings that sleeplessness and obesity are interlinked. The evidence shows that if you’ve had a restless night, you’re more likely to consume a greater number of calories throughout the day.

But, why? Here’s a simplified version of the science jargon…

Sleep deprivation affects two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which play key roles in the regulation of appetite. One study found that lack of sleep led to depleted levels of leptin (which inhibits hunger) and elevated levels of ghrelin (which increases hunger). Side note: this was a small study and more research is needed to fully understand the way sleep and hormones interact

Insufficient sleep could also activate the reward pathways in your brain. When participants were presented with food stimuli, those who were sleep deprived had increased brain activity in the areas associated with reward compared to those who’d had regular sleep.

Lack of sleep is a major health hazard. But what can you do if you’re battling insomnia?

Insomnia is a common problem and the negative consequences of the condition can spill over into your everyday life. Think bad moods, depression, poor memory, and a weak immune system. The ideal ingredients for a bad day. When you lie in bed feeling more awake than you do after drinking your third cup of coffee, you’re unlikely to feel much else other than frustration and despair.

What now?

Your senses are more responsive than you realise. Whether it’s a sound or a smell, your brain is triggered by the environment around you. Back in the hunter-gatherer days, a heightened awareness would give you a survival advantage, but nowadays, it can be a nuisance if you’re just trying to get some shut-eye.

But you control the environment around you and there are steps you can take to optimise the conditions of your sleeping environment. Follow our 7 simple tips to create a space designed to help you sleep.

1. Optimise room temperature

When you go to sleep, your core body temperature naturally declines. The reason for this is likely two-fold: your brain is signalling to the body that it’s time to go to sleep and you’re conserving energy. Although some people prefer hotter temperatures, you’re more likely to promote good quality sleep in a cooler environment that supports a lower body temperature.

2. Block out light

Your natural circadian rhythms are prompted by light so block out as much light as possible. You can use blackout blinds or an eye mask if necessary.

3. Create a comfy bed space

A comfortable mattress and bedding are important for a restful night’s sleep. A study on people with insomnia found that using a weighted blanket improved the quality of their sleep.

4. Have good bedroom hygiene

A cluttered bedroom is a cluttered mind. Even when you don’t realise it, a messy bedroom can promote stress as our brain is responding to excessive stimuli. It’s well established that stress is associated with sleep disorders. Among other variables, the two are linked because stress increases activity in the brain and triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline, which keep you awake.

5. Minimise sound

Noise fragments and disturbs sleep throughout the night. To combat unwelcome sounds spilling into the bedroom, wear good-quality earplugs or play white noise. A recent study found that white noise significantly improved sleep quality for people living in noisy environments.

6. Stick to a sleep schedule

Sleep schedules play a major role in the regulation of your internal body clock. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. As well as disrupting your ability to get to sleep, irregular sleeping patterns can negatively impact your mood.

7. Use natural sleep aids

Scents such as lavender promote restfulness. You can also practice meditation and relaxation techniques, focusing on your breathing and training your mind to relax.

The numan take

Don’t ignore insomnia. The condition triggers weight gain, poor heart health, and bad mood. Take back control of your sleep by optimising your nighttime environment.