Alaska Sleep Education Center

Awareness of the Five Senses at Bedtime

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Feb 1, 2018 8:00:00 AM


Newsweek reports chronic insomnia effects nearly 30 percent of adults at some point during their life; chronic defined as a month or longer of disrupted sleep. With so many causes of insomnia from health ailments to psychological issues, it is important to think about how your five senses can improve your sleep. Even Harvard Medical School breaks down how the five senses change while you age. So discovering some answers along the way can help make a routine flexible to change over time. How can you make the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound work together to create the ambiance needed in bedroom?

Touchy Feely

You have the mattress and pillow picked out but what about the sheets? Thread count, temperature, softness. It all matters when sleep counts. Some beds may even be fitted with an incorrect size depending on mattress depth. Bed Bath & Beyond provides a list of different materials, fabrics and care options for sheets to keep them soft and the thread count strong.

Still unsure about the weave options? offers the following advice on the weave of sheets:

“Sateen is cotton cloth made with a satin weave, a weave that produces a very soft, lustrous feel but can be somewhat less durable than a tighter weave. Percale is the crisp, durable plain weave fabric typically used for sheets; it has a thread count of at least 180. Combed cotton has been combed to remove the short fibers and leave the long ones, which makes for a strong, soft fabric.” A list of the best sheets of 2018 is available online if you are ready to recycle your current sheets.


 A Clean Palette

We all are aware of the dangers of snacking at bedtime or binging junk foods. But keep in mind the entire body needs to rest, not just the brain and body. Give your digestion a break and follow these simple methods to keep a clean palette and stomach when your head hits the pillow.

  • Just like caffeine, leave alcohol and wine to the early evening hours. Wine can keep you awake and alcohol right before bed produces a restless night.
  • Eat protein. A light sugary snack does not lead to a completely lack of rest but a craving of sugary sweets nightly may be an underlying blood sugar level issue. Stick to a protein to help curb the cravings.
  • Drink a cup of decaffeinated tea. Chamomiles and herbals are the place to start including lavender, peppermints, and lemongrass with different flavors to match your tastebuds.

Soothing Sounds

Think about the type of music you listen to. Maybe while you workout it is a list of upbeat, energetic music. During your evening commute it may change to your favorite tunes. But at bedtime, a sleep soundtrack with ocean sounds, babbling brooks, and crickets soothe your mind to enter into slumber.

Recent studies by Music and Well-being show a significant increase in sleep while listening to soft music prior to sleeping. In fact, the study showed people entered the REM cycle faster when listening to soft music.

While searching for the perfect mix of tracks, the National Sleep Foundation recommends music at 60 to 80 beats per minute. Not certain what that looks like when looking for music? Think about classical or jazz music or try out the sleep lists on apps like Spotify. If those don’t strike a chord for you, pick some tracks by British star Ed Sheeran, Spotify’s top playlist for sleep tracks.

When it is a shared space with a spouse or partner and you cannot agree on a playlist or it distracts the other, earplugs may even do the trick! A lot of restless nights with couples can be attributed with an unbalance for one. Noise for one can be a lifesaver while the other needs silence.

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 A Whiff of Oil

According to essential oil , many have heard of the natural wellness remedy of adding oils to the bedroom. Just as lavender lotions aid the sense of smell, an oil lasts throughout the night enjoyed for you and your partner. But where does one start who is new to oils?

Lavender is a good place to start. With its relaxing scent, the aroma is pleasant and easy to combine with other oils to achieve the perfect mix. Chamomile is mistakenly seen as the next best treatment for insomnia. But as Essential Oil Haven recommends, Roman Chamomile is specifically used as a natural sleep aid."

Roman Chamomile is an ancient herb that can help with your sleeplessness caused from chronic stress, headaches or nervous disorders.” A final combination of oils is Sweet Marjoram which calms feelings of loneliness or grief. As an additive to lavender and Roman chamomile, all three work together to aid insomnia.

Using these oils together can be tricky so make certain to NEVER ingest but dilute your oils with water in a carrier or diffuser.

For a few helpful sleep blend recipes, visit Essential Oil Haven’s website.


 Beacon of Light

During the day, sunlight provides energy and nutrients to your body. But at night, your body is looking to detox. Bright light bulbs could be the cause of your sleeping problem. And for those who are environmentally friendly filling each light socket with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFBs) light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), you are exposing the space with blue light. Many know blue light is exposed through the use of electronics at night as many check email or social media prior to falling asleep but this type of light emits and mimics daylight even in light bulbs.

Lasting up to 100 hours, an incandescent bulb may not be energy efficient but are soft enough to surround the room with twilight helping you fall asleep faster. For those willing to do anything for a restful night sleep, red wavelengths are your number one bulb to create the ambiance on your nightstand.


Finding Help

Still searching for the solution? All of these can help an unrestful night in any bedroom but there are also professionals who can aid in your fight with insomnia when the answer is not easy.  Call the Alaska Sleep Clinic for a free 10 minute consultation.

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