National Sleep Foundation Launches New Sleep Education Website
Regular, restorative sleep is crucial to our daily mood and performance and long-term health. To help educate the public on the importance of sleep, The National Sleep Foundation announced the launch of its new “Inside Your Bedroom, Use Your Senses!” website in July. The website is the first to combine sleep science and the five senses — taste, smell, sound, sight and touch — to help people create an ideal personal sleep environment.
The site is divided into five pages — one for each sense — and uses a simple, clean layout and endearing icons to present practical information on getting a good night’s sleep. The site also contains tabs entitled “Supporting Research,” which link to further research and statistics by The National Sleep Foundation on a sleep-related topic.
Here are some interesting tips and facts from the “Inside Your Bedroom” site, categorized by each of the five senses.
- The ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep is somewhere around 65 degrees, according to many sleep experts.
- Our mattress, pillows and sheets directly affect the quality of our sleep. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily better to sleep on an extra firm mattress or pillow, so use your body as a guide for what feels best through the night.
- Making our bed is more than a routine chore—the results of a recent Bedroom Poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that many people believe clean, neat and comfortable elements of the bedroom environment are important to getting a good night’s sleep.
- People have an internal clock that mirrors the natural cycle of day and night. In the morning, cells in the retina of the eye detect sunlight and send messages to the brain that trigger an increase in the hormone cortisol, helping us feel alert and ready for the day. As evening approaches and light fades, the hormone melatonin begins to rise and body temperature lowers to help us fall asleep.
- Scientists are finding that the artificial light from TVs, computers, cell phones and other electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain. A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95 percent of people use some type of computer, video game, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.
- White noise may help you sleep better if you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. White noise is a constant ambient sound that reduces the difference between background sounds and a “peak” sound, such as a door slamming or dog barking.
- Falling asleep with the television on could interrupt your sleep. For a better night’s sleep, keep the TV out of the bedroom and turn it off before you start your bedtime routine. Use white noise for background sounds instead.
- Lavender oil has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state. According to a study by the College of Public Health Sciences, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, lavender oil caused significant decreases in blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature in subjects who inhaled lavender oil instead of just base oil.
- Foods containing the amino acid tryptophan — a building block of the sleep-related chemical serotonin — could potentially make you drowsy. Carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, so a few whole wheat crackers with a small amount of peanut butter, or cereal with milk may help you fall asleep.
Visit the site at bedroom.sleepfoundation.org. The National Sleep Foundation will be adding new and updated information to the website in the future.
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