A lot has been written lately about insomnia. An L.A. Times piece asks "Can insomnia kill?" and author Gayle Greene wonders if Heath Ledger’s death was due to insomnia and the subsequent overload of insomnia drugs.
Greene is a professor at Scripps College in Claremont and the author of "Insomniac," a first-person account of living with insomnia.
In the New York Times, a blog posting titled "Curing Insomnia Without Pills" got more than 600 reader comments.
The reasons for insomnia are complex and perhaps uncontrollable. So that’s why controlling what can be controlled -– the bedroom environment –- is so compelling.
Here are eight blunders — spelled out by the Better Sleep Council, Restfulsleep.net and Martha Stewart.com — which result in bedrooms that are detrimental to sleep, and some suggestions for improvements.
1. Too-warm temperature: Keep the air temperature cool. The Better Sleep Council advises keeping the room between 60 and 65 degrees.
2. Dry air: Place green plants in the room to produce oxygen and bring moisture into a too-dry environment. In some cases, a humidifier might be needed.
3. Overly stimulating colors: Use calming colors. Some colors, like bright yellow, are very stimulating, while others, such as blue, are calming.
4. Uncomfortable bed: Get a more comfy bed with luxurious sheets (and lose the lumpy pillows).
5. Chemically smells: Pay attention to scents in the bedroom. Some people find lavender to be relaxing, while the smells of detergents, fabric softeners and cleaning products may have the opposite effect.
6. Too much outside noise: If you’re remodeling, add extra insulation or soundproofing drywall, such as QuietRock, to the walls to create a quiet environment.
7. Too much outside light: Add light-blocking shades to keep the room dark as possible.
8. Computer and TV in room: Move the computer and TV out of the bedroom, and move the bright light of the digital clock out of view.
(Photo: New York Times)