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A great night's sleep can depend on the comfort you feel in your bedroom environment
  • What temperature should your bedroom be?

    Many sleep experts say that a cool room, somewhere around 65 degrees, makes for the best sleep, and research backs this notion. More

    During the course of a normal day, your body temperature rises and falls slightly. This pattern is tied to your sleep cycle. As you become drowsy, your temperature goes down, reaches its lowest level around 5:00 a.m., and climbs slightly as morning begins. This is why the air in your room can affect the quality of your sleep: if it's too hot, it may interfere with your body's natural dip and make you more restless through the night. In fact, studies indicate that some forms of insomnia are associated with an improper regulation in body temperature. Of course each of us has a slightly different optimal temperature for sleep, so experiment with keeping your room cool and find what makes you most comfortable.

  • Shivering and sweating at night

    During the night, your body uses its own heating and cooling mechanisms to keep your temperature in a healthy range. But the sensations that come with this natural "thermoregulation" can make it hard to sleep peacefully. More

    When your temperature rises, your body produces sweat that is meant to cool you down as it evaporates off your skin. If the air, your mattress, blankets, or pajamas keep you too warm, you might find yourself damp and uncomfortable. And if the room is too humid, sweating may not even cool you off, since the air is already saturated. On the other hand, if temperatures get too cool, this will produce a shiver, in which your muscles contract and expand rapidly to produce heat. Both of these automatic processes can happen without our conscious knowledge and they tend to make for restless sleep. For ideas on managing temperature, see tips for sleeping with hot flashes and cooling the bedroom.

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  • How bed surfaces affect your sleep

    The feel of your mattress, pillows, sheets, and pajamas affects the quality of your sleep. Your mattress should be comfortable and supportive so that you wake up feeling rested, not achy or stiff.More

    Contrary to popular belief, it's not necessarily better to sleep on an extra firm mattress, so use your body as a guide for what feels best through the night. The same applies to pillows: soft or firm is a matter of preference, but think about replacing pillows when they become lumpy or shapeless. The type and number of pillows you use depends in part on your sleeping position.

    Temperature plays a big role in quality sleep. Mattress materials, as well as the fabrics on your bed and your body, deal with heat differently. For example, many people find memory foam comfortable, but some materials can trap heat and make it more difficult to sleep in warmer months. For pajamas and sheets, it may help to choose a breathable cotton fabric so that you don't overheat. There are newer fabrics available that also have the ability to wick away moisture—especially helpful if you sweat when you sleep.

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  • When to buy new mattresses and pillows

    There is no strict rule about when to replace your mattress, but most have a lifespan of around eight years. Some experts say this timeframe is shorter if you're over 40, because your body may need a better foundation for sleep. More

    The best way to tell if your mattress has seen its day is to evaluate your comfort and sleep quality. Check for worn or sagging spots in the middle or at the edges, and make sure that when your partner moves, your position on the bed isn't disturbed. If you wake up tired or stiff, or if you find hotel beds extra cozy, it could be a clue that it's time for a change.

    Give your pillows the same once-over for lumps and sags. When you sleep, your pillow should support your head and neck, allowing them to stay in a neutral position (without craning or awkwardness) while you sleep. Many doctors recommend replacing pillows every two years.

    In the meantime, keep your mattress and pillows clean. Wash your mattress cover in hot water. You can also dust the mattress itself with baking soda to draw out moisture and vacuum it up a day later, or wash with a product such as upholstery cleaner. Most pillows are washable, or can be run through the dryer on high temperature to kill dust mites.

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  • Make your bed for better sleep

    We tend to think of making our beds as a routine morning chore, but it turns out the ritual may be more meaningful than that. 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. More

    Not surprisingly, over 90 percent of people said a comfortable mattress and pillows are important to the sleep experience. But more than three quarters of people also believe that the comfortable feel of sheets and bedding are important to a good night's rest, and 62 percent said that a clean bedroom makes the difference.

    People who reported making their bed in the morning were 19 percent more likely to get a good night's sleep every night. It's not clear why this is, but perhaps there is a connection between feeling good about where you sleep and your tendency to sleep through the night.

  • Pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and sleep

    Pregnancy brings fluctuating hormones with body temperature changes, nausea, the increased urgency to urinate, and trouble getting comfortable at night. More

    If you find yourself overheating or sweating while you sleep, wear light cotton pajamas and keep a spare set next to you at night, along with a glass of ice water. A good set of pillows will be your friend during pregnancy, especially as your belly grows. Lie on your left side if you can (best for your circulation), and experiment with putting a pillow or two between your legs, behind your back, or even a thin one under your abdomen. You can find long body pillows that also support your upper body while you sleep. Remember that light can send alerting signals to your brain, so leave a nightlight in the bathroom or hallway for nighttime trips instead of turning on overhead lights.

    Hot flashes are very common for women in menopause and can make sleep difficult as well. Many scientists believe that dropping estrogen levels and other altered hormones trick the hypothalamus (the brain's temperature regulating region) into thinking the body is overheating. To get rid of excess heat, blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases to the skin, causing a flushed and sweaty feeling. Wear light cotton pajamas or those designed to wick away moisture, and consider keeping an extra set near your bed. If you sweat a lot at night, keep an extra pillowcase, a towel, or even a spare set of sheets near the bed as well. Have a cold facecloth and a glass of ice water on hand and follow tips for keeping your room cool. If symptoms persist, consider consulting with your gynecologist.

  • How to dress your child for sleep

    For safety reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep without any loose blankets, so at night it's best to choose an outfit that keeps your baby comfortable without extra layers. More

    Avoid over-bundling your baby: most nights your infant can wear a onesie and a cotton swaddle, or cotton pajamas with feet. In the winter, heavier pajamas or an additional sleep sack (a sleeveless, wearable blanket) will work.

    Older children tend to kick off their covers at night, so you may want to dress your toddler or young child in an outfit that works without blankets as well. Choose pajama fabrics that are breathable and won't cause your child to sweat during the night. The same general principle of cool air for better sleep applies to children, so try to keep the room in the mid-60 degree range.

  • How to cool the room in the summer

    For cooler summer sleeping, prepare during the day by avoiding heat buildup in your house. More

    Close the blinds or curtains to block the sun and close the windows if the temperature outside is higher than inside. As the sun begins to go down and the air outside cools, open the windows, let a cross breeze through the bedroom, and keep your windows open while you sleep. Since heat rises, sleep in the bedroom on the lowest level.

    Many people find fans helpful during the summer. Use a ceiling fan if you have one, or place a portable fan near an open window, leave the bedroom door open, and open other windows in the house to allow air to move. If you have a fan that fits in the window itself, another trick is to direct the fan to blow warm air out of the house. To do this, put a fan in the window facing out and make sure there are no big gaps around the edges. Close all the windows and doors through which air can enter, except the one nearest the bed—that way a stream of cooler air is pulled in one window and warm air is blown out another.

    Dress in light breathable cotton pajamas. If you sweat a lot at night, consider keeping an extra set by the side of the bed for a quick change. Take a shower before going to bed. If it works for you, keep a spray bottle, cool facecloth, icepack and a glass of ice water by the bed as well.

did you know?

93% of Americans rated a comfortable mattress, 91% rated comfortable pillows and 86% rated a comfortable feel of sheets and bedding as important to good sleep in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Bedroom Poll.