While a new mattress, fresh bedding, and ambient lighting typically appear on most people’s list for a welcoming and relaxing bedroom, many haven’t stopped to consider the quality of their air. In order to help educate and to highlight the importance of good sleep health for individuals, families, and even pets, we’re participating in National Sleep Awareness Week, from March 10 through the 15.
We’ll be partnering with amazing companies like SleepScore, Lighting Science, Swanwick, Scentered, and Proper Pillow throughout the week to provide insights into how you can get a better night’s sleep, improve your health, and even win some amazing giveaways from Alen and our partners on Instagram (be sure to follow @alenairpurifiers).
Sleep is part of an evergrowing field of scientific study. The National Sleep Foundation, one of the leading groups studying sleep, has created dozens of studies on the subject. In a recent study, the group utilized a tool known as the Sleep Health Index, which “measures sleep health on three key scales:
The Index is fielded quarterly and has accumulated responses from over 12,000 American adults.”
In their latest study, the foundation discovered that despite an increase in the use of technology in the bedroom, as well as American's typical habit of high stress and long work hours, “America is making gains in their sleep health. In the fourth quarter of 2018, US adults scored a new Index high of 77 on its 0-100 scale, up from 76 in the previous three quarters. Both the sleep duration and sleep quality sub-indices also reached highs of 79 and 70, respectively, indicating that people are reporting getting more and better sleep overall.”
Even as general knowledge on how to improve sleep quality increases, and Americans continue to experience more restful sleep, there are still many who may not have an adequate understanding of steps they can take to improve their sleep. This may limit how effectively they improve the sleep they are getting or what they can do to create a relaxing, sleep-positive environment. In this article, we will explore more about the science of sleep as well as steps you can take to improve yours.
The question may seem silly at first glance, but can you accurately describe what sleep really is? According to Healthy Sleep, a resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, “We all have at least a vague notion of what sleep is, but that doesn't mean that defining this mysterious part of our lives is simple. After all, detailed analysis of our own sleep isn't really an option, given that we rarely know that we're sleeping when we're asleep. And even if we observe the sleep of others, so much of what they experience—changes in the functions of their brains and bodies—is not easily seen from the outside.” They continue, stating, “from observing changes in behavior and responsiveness, scientists have noted the following characteristics that accompany and in many ways define sleep:
From observations of behavioral changes that accompany sleep and simultaneous physiological changes, scientists now define sleep in humans based on brain wave activity patterns and other physiological changes…”
Sleep deprivation can have a host of negative side effects. From relatively mild grumpiness and discomfort to more serious impacts such as a weakened immune system and increased risk of heart disease. More examples of the impacts of sleep deprivation can be seen in the downloadable infographic below.
So, you may be wondering, what can you do to ensure that your sleeping environment is the healthiest and most relaxing room possible? Let us explain some steps you can take to ensure you awake rested and ready for the day.
There are many ways that you can improve your bedroom or any sleeping environment to not only make it more inviting, but more relaxing, and aiding in a better, more restful night’s sleep. We’ll cover a range of ways you can improve your bedroom, little by little, or all at once.
While it’s great to have a bright and cheery bedroom during the day, at night you want to limit the amount of light in your room, as much as possible, this includes electronic light. Utilizing blackout shades and curtains to keep out external light, both while drifting off and during early morning sunrises, will help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. In addition, aside from distracting bulbs or LEDs found in many electronics which may be in our rooms, from televisions to alarm clocks, many electronics also emanate “blue light”, which, according to sleep doctor Michael J Breus, Ph.D., “suppresses melatonin production for more than twice as long as other light wavelengths, and alters circadian rhythms by twice the degree. ... That blue light kept body temperature elevated to daytime levels is a sign of the degree to which nighttime blue light exposure can disrupt normal circadian rhythms. After nights of blue-light exposure, participants were more tired during the day, and experienced more negative moods.”
Alen purifiers, like the BreatheSmart 45i, have a convenient “Sleep Mode”, specifically to address these issues, allowing you to turn off the units display lights while keeping the unit running throughout the night.
SleepJunkie.Org describes the importance of a great mattress, sharing that “The mattress that you choose is absolutely critical to how well you sleep. There are a number of types of mattresses that are available such as memory foam, latex, and even innerspring mattresses. Memory foam and latex are best known for providing quality comfort and support. It will be up to you to thoroughly research which type of mattress suits your lifestyle so that you are properly supported while you rest. There is nothing more disturbing to your sleep than a lumpy and uncomfortable mattress.” Furthermore, invest in quality bedding that’s both soft and comfortable, providing the right amount of insulation, or lack thereof, for maintaining an enjoyable body temperature through the night.
Noise is one of the most common disruptors of sleep. Whether the sound comes from something or someone inside of the room itself such as a snoring partner or an alarm clock, in another room, or from a car driving down the street, noise can prevent you from getting to sleep, or even worse, can rudely rouse you from a deep slumber. Often, it’s these unexpected sounds that not only prevent sleep but cause an inconsistency of sounds or silence which is significantly disruptive to sleep. Examine your sleeping environment and identify if there will be noises that are outside of your control and work to find ways to avoid or eliminate them. Additionally, look towards an air purifier. You may wonder, “Won’t that do the opposite and keep me awake?” In fact, the inverse is true. Purifiers like the BreatheSmart 45i, and in fact all the purifiers in the BreatheSmart line of air purifiers, are scientifically tuned to produce what is known as pink noise, proven to help you sleep up to 25% better.
Pink noise is the most common signal in biological systems. In pink noise, each octave carries an equal amount of noise energy. Pink noise is a frequency of sound waves which has been found in recent scientific studies to aid in getting better sleep. It resembles the sounds of steady rainfall or wind and is often considered to be more soothing than white noise, which some people find unpleasant. Pink noise is a frequency of sound waves which has been found in recent scientific studies to aid in getting better sleep. Dr. Phyllis Zee, professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, recently published her study on the subject in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, and her findings suggest that pink noise can help to “get deeper sleep and stronger memories”. In an interview with Time Magazine, Dr. Zee went on to state that “After analyzing everyone’s sleep waves, the team found that people’s slow-wave oscillations increased on the nights punctuated by pink noise. Come morning, people who had listened to it performed three times better on memory tests than they had the other night. On the nights without the noise, memory recall did not improve as much.”
Additional studies, like “Pink noise: Effect on complexity synchronization of brain activity and sleep consolidation”, published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, showed amazing results, with findings indicating that “Each subject slept for two consecutive experimental periods, of which one is pink noise-exposed and the other is quiet. For both nocturnal sleep and nap tests, the results in the noise exposure group showed significant enhancement in the percentage of stable sleep time compared to the control group based on the analysis of electrocardiography (ECG) signal with cardiopulmonary coupling approach.”
Temperature is another factor which can impact the quality and quantity of sleep. H. Craig Heller, Ph.D., professor of biology at Stanford University, explains this fascinating aspect of sleep, saying, “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature -- the temperature your brain is trying to achieve -- goes down…Think of it as the internal thermostat. “if you are in a cooler room, it is easier for that to happen.” However, it’s also stated by Heller and other sleep experts, that If it’s too cold in a room, or too hot, you are likely to toss and turn, degrading the quality of your sleep or keeping your from sleeping at all.
There are a number of ideas, in addition to those mentioned earlier, that you can incorporate into your sleeping environment to get even better sleep. From essential oils and scents, such as those made by our Sleep Awareness Week partner Scentered, to a great pillow, like the Perfect Pillow, or a high-quality sleep mask, like those from Swanwick, are all excellent ways you can make your room a sleep paradise, as well as a clean air paradise, with Alen air purifiers. Then, monitor and adjust your environment, based on feedback from a great app, like SleepScore. With all these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be catching high-quality Z’s in no time. Sweet dreams!
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