Getty Images Image by: Getty Images
Go out like a light
To sleep well, your brain needs darkness. Even a little light can send a signal from your eyes to your hypothalamus, promoting wakefulness. Dr. Boulos suggests installing blackout blinds or room-darkening curtains to keep light out. Choose a size that will fit snugly on your window so light doesn't seep through the edges.
Make a blissful bed
The right mattress and pillow can make all the difference, but what makes one bed more slumber-worthy than another is mostly a matter of personal preference, says Dr. Boulos. Try different pillows and mattresses to find what feels best for you—and don't forget to account for your sleep mate. "If your partner tosses and turns, you may want to get a larger mattress that doesn't transmit movement as much," says Dr. Boulos. "Research shows that, if you have a bed partner who is a restless sleeper, it impacts the quality of your own sleep."
Do a cooldown
When you fall asleep, your body temperature decreases. Keeping the bedroom toasty at night can interfere with this process. Comfortable sleeping temperatures vary slightly from person to person, but Dr. Boulos recommends keeping your bedroom a few degrees below your daytime room temperature. According to researchers, some people benefit from a warm bath before bedtime, but it's the body temperature drop after the bath that makes you sleepy.
Drown out the noise
Remove noisy items, such as electronics, from the bedroom. If you can still hear a ticking clock or a leaky faucet, consider getting a sound machine. "Some people find that they have a noise-cancelling effect that may provide deeper sleep," says Dr. Boulos. If the problem is a snoring partner, don't drown it out: Snoring can be a symptom of a bigger problem, such as sleep apnea, so get your partner to a doctor. You can always sleep in separate rooms until the issue is resolved. And if the loudest noise is all in your head—emails to send, groceries to buy or chores to do—write it down. Dr. Boulos says keeping a journal by the bed is a fantastic way to clear your mind before sleeping and prepare it for rest.
Have completely serene surroundings and still can't sleep? See your doctor. Sleep is one part environment and lifestyle and one part health, says Dr. Boulos. If you're doing everything right and can't catch enough zzz's, you may have an underlying disorder.
Check out how you can sleep anywhere with these helpful tips.
This story was originally part of "Do Not Disturb" in the November 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!