To create a good sleeping environment, we must take into account the amount of light in the room, the temperature of the room and the amount of noise in the room. While some of these specifics are dependent on the individual, there are some general rules to follow when creating an ideal sleep environment for babies. These tips are good for an adult’s bedroom as well as a child’s bedroom.
If a nightlight is to be used, it should be a dim kind. Bright lights signal the body that it is time to be awake, while dim lights signal the body it is time to sleep. When the body realizes it is time to sleep, it will begin producing melatonin, a calming hormone. If there is too much light in the bedroom, there will be little or no melatonin produced. Televisions, laptops, smartphones, and tablets should not be used in the bedroom right before bed as they all inhibit the production of melatonin. If your baby wakes during the night and needs a feeding or a diaper change, keep the lights as dim as possible. Consider placing a dim nightlight in your bathroom in case you need to use it in the middle of the night.
While researchers have not agreed on an exact temperature that all people sleep best in, it is better to be on the cooler side. As you sleep, your body temperature cools down and if the room is too warm, your body has to work harder to cool it down and you may have more problems sleeping. Most researchers do recommend sleeping in a room in the range of 65 – 72. It is especially important that infants are not overheated as this puts them at an increased risk of SIDS. Check your baby to be sure they are not perspiring or that their skin does not feel too warm to the touch.
Newborns are not used to total silence since things are very noisy in the womb. White noise machines mimic these sounds and can be quite beneficial to increasing the length of time newborns sleep. Older children and adults also find these sounds comforting, especially if you live in a busy city, or your neighbors have dogs that like to bark through the night or early in the morning. For newborns, the actual white noise option seems to work better for them because of the consistent sound. Older children and adults can pick whatever sound they prefer, such as ocean waves.
And here is one more aspect that may affect your sleep environment: smell. If your house has been recently painted, or if you have new furniture, the smell could bother you or your child. You should air out anything like that before you put it in your bedroom as those smells could really be dangerous toxins coming off of the furniture. Try to get low or no voc paint for the baby’s room or paint well ahead of the baby’s arrival. Washing your baby’s bedclothes in detergent that has fragrance may also bother your baby. Plants are great to have in rooms to remove toxins from the air. Here is a link to 10 plants that will improve your indoor air quality: http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/air-quality/news-10-fabulous-houseplants-absorbs-indoor-pollution.
Written By Michelle Winters, Gentle Sleep Coach at Sleep Well Solutions
Michelle Winters graduated from the College of William and Mary with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and is a Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She has worked in Human Resources, Information Technology, and for the last eight years at a Montessori school. Working with infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children has made her aware of how prevalent sleep difficulties are. She decided she wanted to do something to help all the tired parents out there, especially since she had been one of those tired parents until very recently when her 3 year old son finally started sleeping through the night! Michelle is based in Northern Virginia and is also available to help clients all over the country. She will help you create a plan that will have your child sleeping better at night and at naptime. Her website is www.sleepwellsleepsolutions.com.
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