Trusted sleep authority the National Sleep Foundation wants Americans to know that holiday hospitality does not end at the dinner table—the NSF and its Official Licensed Products Program are highlighting a wide range of merchandise designed to help consumers create a guest bedroom that is conducive to a better night’s sleep.
“The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to helping the public choose the right bedroom elements to create an optimal sleep environment,” explains David M. Cloud, chief executive officer of the National Sleep Foundation, the leading educational and scientific not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving sleep health and safety. “The holiday season brings with it a unique set of sleep challenges. Stressed shoppers, hyper-stimulated children and guests who may be sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings all need to pay special attention to getting a good night’s sleep. That is why the National Sleep Foundation and our Official Licensed Products Program are working to bring Americans useful sleep health information and the best sleep products on the market.
“The National Sleep Foundation’s Official Licensed Products program is designed to help people create bedrooms with all of the right components for a long and healthy night’s sleep,” Cloud continues. “As the trusted sleep authority, the National Sleep Foundation is proud to work with the leading manufacturers in our Official Licensed Products program.”
Through its annual Bedroom Poll, a companion to its well-known “Sleep In America” Poll, the National Sleep Foundation has identified some of the most important bedroom factors contributing to a healthy night’s sleep, including bedding comfort, light management, noise control, temperature regulation and air quality.
“Many people have addressed these issues in their own bedrooms, but may have overlooked the importance of creating a sleep-friendly environment in seldom-used guest bedrooms,” Cloud points out. “This holiday season, the National Sleep Foundation is urging Americans to give their guest bedrooms a ‘healthy sleep makeover’ to help visiting friends and family members achieve a sound and restorative night’s rest, in spite of being away from home in a strange or different environment.”
The Bedroom Poll reveals that more than nine out of ten Americans (93%) say that having comfortable mattresses and pillows are important to getting a good night’s sleep, and 86% of Americans say that comfortable sheets are a key factor. Additionally, 62% of Americans rate their own pillows as better than a quality hotel’s, and 91% of Americans change their sheets at least every other week.
Other bedroom elements rated as important to sound sleep include a quiet room, selected by 74%; and bedroom darkness, rated as important by 73%. Also high on the list are cool temperature, clean air free of allergens, and a dark, quiet and clean bedroom. At least two-thirds of Americans believe these also play an important role in getting good sleep.
“We spend a third of lives in our bedrooms, so it is the ultimate act of hospitality to make guest rooms a sanctuary for sleep,” Cloud asserts. “Comfort, fresh air, quietness and cool temperature are the basic building blocks for creating the best sleep environment, and can really make your guests feel appreciated and welcomed.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation 2011 Bedroom Poll, more than three-fourths of Americans (78%) say that they are more excited to go to bed on sheets with a fresh scent; about seven in ten Americans (71%) say they get a more comfortable night’s sleep on sheets with a fresh scent, and 63% of Americans say fresh air free of allergens is important to a getting a good night’s sleep “This proves that taking special care to make your guest bedrooms pleasing and comfortable, with elements like clean, fresh smelling bedding, can make a real difference in comfort,” Cloud relates.
Light management is another key factor in creating a guest bedroom environment conducive to better sleep, according to Cloud, who notes that nearly three-quarters of Americans rate the darkness of their bedroom as important. “Light and darkness are powerful cues that tell your body it's time to rest, or get you ready for a productive day,” he says. “So it is no surprise that light in the bedroom, or light leaking in from outside, has an impact on the quality of a person’s sleep.
“Artificial light after dark can send wake-up messages to the brain, suppressing the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep,” he continues. “And early sun rays begin to activate the body and can cause some of us to rise before we're ready.”
The National Sleep Foundation’s research reveals the surprising fact that 35% of Americans say they have no curtains or shades in the bedroom. Also surprising, nearly a quarter (24%) of those with bedroom shades or curtains say they never close their window coverings.
Light from various electronic devices also can be detrimental to guests achieving a good night’s sleep. The NSF poll finds that a majority of those polled (71%) say they have a bedroom television of which 11% say they leave on all night, and at least two-thirds (66% to 80%) of people in the United States and in other countries surveyed watch TV in the hour before bed. Almost four in ten (39%) say they have a computer in their bedroom with 3% saying they leave it on all night.
“We’re finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain, and could keep your guests feeling charged past bedtime,” Cloud remarks. “So if your guest room doubles as your computer room, turn off the computer before your guests head off to sleep. It can take some time for the body to come down from technology's alerting effects.”
Common household noises and noise pollution from outside sources also can have an impact on guests’ sleep. National Sleep Foundation research shows that, although 74% of Americans say a quiet bedroom is important to a good night’s sleep, just 5% of Americans report using a sound conditioner in their bedrooms.
“Outside noise is a fact of life for many people, especially those in a cities or busy neighborhoods,” Cloud points out. “But while some people grow accustomed to environmental noise if it's constant enough, for many of us, sudden or periodic noises outside the bedroom windows can jostle us awake, even if just briefly. This can be particularly hard for guests trying to adjust to a different sleep schedule and bedroom environment.
“White noise created by a sound conditioner can help guests fall or stay asleep, creating a constant ambient sound to help mask activity from inside and outside the house,” he adds.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends arranging the guest bedroom furnishings to de-clutter the room and create a clean and relatively ordered space. Arrange the furniture in a way that feels natural and visually pleasing. Make the area a haven for sleep, free of distractions. Choose wall colors, artwork, blankets, and other furnishings that are soothing and comfortable.
To further help Americans learn about creating bedroom environments that are conducive to a better night’s sleep, the National Sleep Foundation has developed a special consumer-focused website “Inside Your Bedroom” focusing on how the body’s five senses can impact sleep. The “Inside Your Bedroom” website pulls together science and practical advice into a user-friendly site to address creating the optimal sleep environment.
The National Sleep Foundation and its Official Licensed Products Program also are distributing informational brochures on sleep health and creating healthy sleep environments with every official National Sleep Foundation product sold. NSF Official Products include Perfect Sleeper mattresses by Serta; Sound Asleep room-darkening curtains by Ellery Homestyles; Live Comfortably bed pillows and mattress toppers by Hollander Sleep Products; Pure Care mattress, box spring and pillow protectors by Fabrictech, Dohm sound conditioners by Marpac, SlumberShades room-darkening blackout cellular and roller shades from Comfortex Window Fashions; performance sheets by Sheex; and personal, wireless sleep tracking devices by Lark.
Advice highlights from the National Sleep Foundation include:
• Create a cool, comfortable sleeping environment that is free of distractions..
• Expose yourself to bright light in the morning, and avoid it at night. Exposure to bright morning light energizes us and prepares us for a productive day. Many find it helpful in overcoming the winter “doldrums” that come with getting up in the dark. Alternatively, avoid exposure to bright light late at night. Dim your lights when it’s close to bedtime, and put night lights in your halls and bathroom for nighttime awakenings.
• Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Allow enough time to wind down and relax before going to bed.
• Treat your bed as your sanctuary from the stresses of the day. Use your bed for sleep only so you positively associate it with sleeping. If you find yourself still lying awake after 20 minutes or so, get up and do something relaxing in dim light until you are sleepy.
• Avoid caffeinated beverages, chocolate and tobacco at night.
• Avoid large meals and beverages right before bedtime.
• No nightcaps. Drinking alcohol before bed can rob you of the deep sleep and dreaming you need, and it can cause you to wake up too early.
For more information on the National Sleep Foundation, visit www.sleepfoundation.org.
About The National Sleep Foundation: The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. It is well-known for its annual Sleep in America® poll. The Foundation is a charitable, educational and scientific not-for-profit organization located in Washington, DC. Its membership includes researchers and clinicians focused on sleep medicine, health professionals, patients, families affected by drowsy driving and more than 900 healthcare facilities.