What Is My Ideal Sleeping Environment?
Last updated: September 2021
Today, my bedroom looks and feels mostly ideal to me. If I had more disposable finances or slept alone, there’d be a few modifications to make it “perfect” for my current liking.
But for all things considered, I’ve set up my sleep environment to be fairly conducive to managing my insomnia.
Preferences and my ideal bedroom
Does that mean that I sleep well, regularly? Unfortunately, no. Does that mean that I can sleep well, sometimes? Well, occasionally. But I think this has more to do with the ways in which I manage my sleep disorder than the environment I’ve created to sleep within. Does that stop me from making my bedroom as ideal as possible? Definitely not!
Everyone has preferences – insomniac or not; they just feel a bit more important when you struggle so often to get good rest. What works for me, you ask?
Cold. But not too cold. Chilled.
I learned a long time ago that I cannot sleep when I am hot. I get crabby and I toss and turn and feel sticky and claustrophobic and frustrated.
Honestly, I’d rather be freezing than too warm. Maybe this relates to my years as a competitive figure skater? Maybe it speaks to my always running warmer than most? Regardless, temperature is really, really important to me.
Cooling fans and linens
These days, this looks like a ceiling fan on low above my bed and a tower fan on medium speed sitting on the floor, pointing only at me, not my partner. There is no top sheet on our bed. There is no fleece or flannel ever. Our sheets and pillowcases are lyocell/cotton blend, and our comforter is a lightweight, cool-to-the-touch, down alternative blanket.
I generally sleep in something soft and lightweight – a sleep shirt or a t-shirt and shorts – something that feels gentle against my skin and doesn't raise my body temperature much. My husband, next to me in bed, sleeps in a hoodie and sweatpants. He claims it’s not because he’s cold, but because that’s what makes him comfortable, but I wonder if it’s just him tolerating my ideal bedroom temperatures. Regardless, I’m grateful for his patience.
Besides temperature, the 2 most important parts of my sleep space are light and sound.
A little bit of light
When I am tired enough, or relaxed enough, I can nap during the day with the curtains open and the sunlight streaming through. When I am awake at night, struggling to wind down or slow my thoughts, I don’t love the pitch black. Sometimes I leave the light on my essential oil diffuser, which acts as a night light. Other times, I leave the TV on, dimmed but quiet, with a sleep timer on.
I’ve had actual night lights, but they’re not my favorite. Alternatively, leaving the bathroom or closet light on with the door just cracked sometimes helps. The darkness, when I’m already feeling challenged, leaves me vulnerable and lonely. Some light helps remind me that although it feels like the whole world is asleep, I’m not really alone.
For me, sound is the same thing. Silence has never been my friend, daytime or night. I usually fall asleep with the TV on low, or with music playing quietly, a meditation or soundscape from my phone, or the speaker in my bedroom. If the sleep timer turns off before I'm asleep, I restart it.
When I'm up during the night, this sometimes feels like a struggle. Introduction of new noise can wake up my partner, leaving me feeling guilty for disrupting his sleep in an attempt to find my own. In these situations, I find myself quietly creeping down the stairs to our family room, pillow in hand, where I turn on the TV softly and wait until morning or doze every so often.
What is essential for your sleep environment?
Why my environment matters
The dark and the quiet are unnerving to me when I'm frustrated and awake alone due to my insomnia, so I try to avoid them in combination especially.
What do you prefer for your sleep space? If anything I wrote resonates with you, leave a comment below. Otherwise, I'd love to hear what your ideal sleep environment is and if it has helped your insomnia or sleep disorder over time!
What do you do at night when you can't sleep?