Few would argue with the idea that the pandemic has profoundly changed the lives of everyone, adults and children alike. We’ve grown more aware that there are invisible threats in our world and that it’s important to take steps to effectively deal with them, even if we can’t see them.
In addition to the obvious physical threats of the virus, research shows that coronavirus also leads to increased mental health issues. In fact, the CDC reports that nearly 41% of respondents to a recent survey admitted to at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition related to the pandemic.
Anxiety and depression play a significant role in our ability to get a good night’s sleep. This, in turn, lowers the body’s ability to fight off the viral infection.
A good night’s sleep not only helps us to ward off illness but also impacts the quality of our day-to-day life. This isn’t rocket science: you know how hard it is to get through your day if you haven’t slept well the night before. So let’s take a look at some of the steps we can take to ensure that we’re sleeping deeply and making the most of our bedroom time.
What is Bedroom Hygiene?
Bedroom hygiene starts with good cleanliness practices, but it doesn’t end there. Organizational and aesthetic factors also play a role in bedroom hygiene. You can think of it as similar to your own personal hygiene. You keep your body and hair clean with regular showers; so should you keep your bedroom clean with regular efforts. Doing so can ease your level of comfort and bring peace of mind, which in turn will promote a deeper sleep.
So, where might your bedroom hygiene unknowingly be slipping through the cracks? Consider the following:
- Floors and walls collect cobwebs and dust bunnies. If you’re not a natural organizer, your floor may be the repository for laundry and other items as well.
- Furniture collects dust, which can coat your airways when you breathe in and render it more difficult to catch your breath. If you have asthma or allergies, the situation can be even more acute.
- As your mattress ages, it collects dirt, skin flakes, and, unfortunately, bed mites. Your mattress should be changed every 7-10 years, but 30% of those we questioned recently admit to owning a mattress that’s more than ten years old.
- Sheets and pillowcases are other vectors for disease and dirt. It’s an unpleasant fact that you shed skin cells when you sleep, and these can collect in your linens and attract bacteria and bed mites.
- Most people don’t think about cleaning high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and their alarm clock — but these surfaces may harbor and transfer germs from one person to another.
Optimizing Your Bedroom for Sleep And Health
Improving your bedroom hygiene means creating a tidy and clean space where you can relax and unwind. If you are anxious or depressed, your bedroom should feature elements that help ease these feelings. We may not be able to make our homes 100% germ- and virus-free, but there are empowering changes that we can make to support health and ease of mind – priceless elements to any lifestyle shift, pandemic or not.
- Air Quality: purchasing an air purifier for your bedroom can pay off in a big way by creating a cleaner atmosphere and cleansing impurities from the air. Change your furnace filters regularly, and consider placing a plant or two in your bedroom to both clean the atmosphere and provide an attractive, calming element to your decor.
- Surfaces/Furniture: Bacteria can thrive on the many open spaces in your bedroom. If you cover those open spaces with fabric (such as a runner on your dresser), take it off and wash it when you wash your sheets to remove dirt and bacteria. Better still, avoid fabrics, and be sure you dust regularly and use an antimicrobial cleaner. Limiting the number of items on furniture, such as picture frames or a bowl for loose change, gives the dust and dirt less place to settle.
- Bedding: Studies suggest that you shed up to one pound of dead skin a year while in your bed. Even worse, bedding and mattresses have been found to contain staphylococcus, norovirus, and more. Washing your bedding once a week is vital for cleanliness. Consider purchasing anti-microbial or silver sheets, which are said to reduce odors as well as keep sheets germ-free. 75% of people say they sleep better when sheets have a clean scent — so take that into consideration when washing and drying.
- Mattress and pillow: replace your pillow every two years, and consider allergen protectors, says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Vacuum your mattress and box spring monthly, and replace it every 7-10 years. The AAFA recommends leaving your bed unmade for a while each morning to let it cool and air out.
- Lighting: good overhead and spotlighting can improve your attitude tremendously, but there’s more you can do. Anti-microbial bulbs kill 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, fungi and mold in the air. Meanwhile, automatic, no-touch lighting minimizes surface germs.
- Flooring: The AAFA recommends weekly vacuuming for rugs and bare floors, as well as regular rug washing by a professional cleaning company. The average carpet contains roughly 200,000 bacteria per square inch, so consider pulling up the wall-to-wall carpet in favor of a nice plush area rug at the bedside. Antimicrobial floor sealants can help protect from bacteria, fungi and mildew.
- Laundry: If you must keep your laundry hamper in the bedroom, make sure it is a closed one with a well-fitting lid. Better yet, bring clothes to the washer at the end of every day so you’re not dealing with dirty laundry in the bedroom.
Tips for Fighting Bedroom Anxiety
As one of the most common COVID-related health issues, anxiety is a plague for more than 40 million adults in the U.S. If you suffer from anxiety, especially at night, there are steps you can take to help you relax before going to bed.
Consider attacking bedroom clutter. Clutter, after all, can make anyone anxious. Effective shelving can keep items off the floor, and decluttering can help create a space that is tidy and aesthetically pleasing. Although dresser tops and bedside tables are prime real estate for family photos and other items, limit the number of dust-catchers you have in the room. Go for a look that is clean, simple, and light.
Take a look at your walls: are they painted a bright color? Try switching out to a soft gray or tan, or a light blue or yellow. Soothing colors help calm the soul; avoid colors in the red, orange or purple families. Window accessories and curtains should also be simple and have the ability to be easily cleaned. Avoid blinds unless you’re willing to dust them regularly. You can also consider adding blackout curtains to your bedroom which can make it easier to fall asleep by blocking out light, especially if you try to nap during the day.
Calm Your Mind Before Bed
A simple Google search will yield plenty of products on the market to aid sleep, such as calming apps that can be installed on your cell phone and programmed to play soothing nature sounds while you are winding down for sleep. Or, consider a sleep meditation program and or gentle yoga routine to relax your body and mind before you go to bed.
The Slumber Yard’s Comfort-Boosting Tips
|Physical Health and Comfort||Mental Health and Comfort|
|Air||– Air purifiers, preferably those with HEPA filters to catch allergens.||– An essential oil diffuser with a calming scent, such as lavender.|
– A plant that will thrive in a windowsill to aid decor and reduce anxiety.
|Surfaces||– Use furniture with antimicrobial finishes and|
non-porous materials. Avoid fabric runners unless you wash them weekly.
|– Use shelving or a bookcase to keep items off the floor and other surfaces; dust it weekly.|
|Bedding||– Anti-microbial or silver sheets may help reduce bacteria; lower thread count sheets allow your body to breath more easily; wash weekly.||– Antibacterial fabric sprays leave a clean, pleasant scent.|
– Wrinkle-free fabrics for curtains and bedding minimize fuss.
|Lighting||– Motion detection/touch-free light switches minimize germs.|
– Anti-microbial bulbs kill pathogens.
– Smart lights provide hands-free ambiance.
– Himalayan salt lamps boost mood and absorb allergens.
|Flooring||– Microbe-resistant flooring; limit or eliminate rugs and carpet.|
– Antibacterial sealants minimize germs.
|-Designated bedroom slippers should be kept by the bedside.|
-Use non-toxic antibacterial floor spray/cleaner.
|Laundry||– Antibacterial laundry bag/hamper.||– Laundry in designated closet space or attractive bin (preferably with a lid).|
The Bottom Line
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, you’re not alone. The pandemic has made everyone justifiably concerned for their health and anxious to avoid toxins and viruses wherever they are, even as global conditions begin to improve. However, It is critical that we maintain healthy hygiene in the bedroom to help us relax and sleep soundly. Some simple fixes can give you a bedroom that promotes well-being, both physical and mental. Even small steps focused on your bedroom’s hygiene will greatly increase your ability to rest comfortably and decrease your exposure to microscopic particles that can hurt you.