Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. An oasis for rest, relaxation, and sleep. Far too often our bedrooms become a catch-all for daily activities including work, eating, watching television, and scrolling through social media. While this may seem harmless, performing these types of activities in bed could be sabotaging your sleep.
When you’re awake and alert while in bed, performing tasks that you’d normally do in your living room, at a desk, or your kitchen table, confuses your brain and body. Instead of connecting your bed and bedroom with sleep, you now subconsciously associate it with being awake and active. Over time, this can cause significant sleep disturbances including insomnia.
One way to combat this is by creating a warm, welcoming bedroom atmosphere that promotes quality sleep and may even ease insomnia symptoms. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help!
Keep reading for 5 actionable tips you can put into practice right now that will transform your bedroom into the ideal sleep environment.
1. Reduce Light and Noise Disturbances
Noise and light are two of the most common external factors that disturb sleep. While you can’t control everything, you can take certain steps to reduce how much and how often these disturbances interfere with your sleep.
Let’s start with light. It’s no secret that your room should be dark and quiet at bedtime. All too often, digital alarm clocks, nightlights, televisions, and even street lights illuminate your bedroom, creating a distraction. More than just common sense, there’s a science behind why darkness promotes sleep.
Your brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is located in the hypothalamus, controls your body’s internal clock (also known as your circadian rhythm). Light signals received through your eye’s optic nerves signal your brain and body to either be awake or asleep. When light is detected, it prevents the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. It also produces cortisol, which elevates your body temperature (more on this in a minute) and promotes wakefulness. The blue light from screens including your smartphone and television can also delay the release of melatonin, and trick your body into staying awake longer.
Prevent this by limiting exposure to screens and electronics at least 60 minutes before bed. Remove any digital displays from your bedroom and invest in room darkening shades. Sleep masks that cover your eyes also work great at keeping light out and promoting sleep.
Noise is another common culprit that makes it difficult to fall asleep or may wake you up throughout the night. While some noise is out of your control like neighbors, traffic, or roommates, you can take certain steps to reduce noise intrusions. Sleep sound machines or oscillating fans are two inexpensive and easy ways to eliminate unwanted noise disturbances. Though uncomfortable, earplugs can also do the trick!
2. Set the Right Temperature
At night, your body temperature naturally drops in preparation for sleep. As morning approaches, it starts to heat up again, promoting wakefulness. While this temperature change is minimal – between 1 and 2 degrees – its impacts are significant. If your body is too hot at night, you may experience hot flashes, wake up sweating, or have a fitful sleep. Keeping your body and your bedroom cool at night can significantly improve your overall quality of sleep.
Start by setting your thermostat between 60 and 70 degrees. While this may sound cold, it’s the ideal temperature for sleeping. During mild weather, crack your bedroom window, letting in the cool, fresh air. Wear lightweight pajamas that are breathable and allow you to move freely, without clinging to your body. The same goes for your blankets. A comfortable sheet and lightweight blanket or comforter are sufficient. Avoid piling on the blankets or using materials that are too heavy and trap heat.
3. Invest in Quality Bedding
The thickness of your bedding isn’t the only important factor when promoting quality sleep. You should also invest in comfortable quality materials. Don’t skimp on your mattress, pillows, or sheets. Quality bedding helps maintain an optimum temperature, not to mention it just feels good on your skin and body. You deserve to climb into bed at night and feel wrapped in softness and comfort. Invest in sheets with a high thread count.
Your pillow and mattress play an important role in your comfort and may reduce unwanted back and neck pain. Choosing between a soft or firm mattress is a personal choice, however, there are a few things to consider. Firm mattresses work best for heavier people that might sink too far into a soft or medium mattress. A firmer mattress also provides added support for individuals with back issues. Lightweight individuals may prefer a softer mattress and find firm ones too hard and harsh against their petite frame.
Your sleep position will determine the type of pillow you should use. Back sleepers benefit most from a firm pillow or a wedge pillow that elevates the top portion of the body. If you tend to sleep on your stomach, you may want a softer pillow that puts less strain on your neck. This way, your head is closer to the mattress, promoting proper alignment. By investing in the right bedding, mattress, and pillow, you’ll find it easier to fall and stay asleep and will wake feeling more well-rested.
4. Consider Air Quality
Your bedroom environment includes everything from the materials inside to the temperature and, yes, even the air you breathe. Air quality is important, regardless of whether or not you have asthma or another respiratory issue, or sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Research suggests that fresh air and proper ventilation are associated with better sleep. In addition, mold buildup and other air quality issues are closely linked with insomnia and excessive daytime drowsiness.
Opening your bedroom window both during the day and at night helps promote proper airflow and brings the fresh air from outside, in. Reducing the amount of humidity in your bedroom also reduces the risk of mold and mildew buildup and can cut down on the presence of dust and dust mites. A humidifier or air purifier can help with this. Hypoallergenic bedding is another good investment if you suffer from allergies.
5. Remove Clutter
Maintaining a neat, organized bedroom is about more than just keeping up appearances. Removing excess clutter can actually help you sleep better. A cluttered and disorganized space can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Not only does it interfere with relaxation, but it acts as a distraction, keeping your mind and body alert and awake. If the thought of completely overhauling your bedroom seems daunting, don’t overthink it. Instead of completely purging your bedroom, spend a few minutes each day straightening up a specific area.
Start by organizing the most visible surfaces like your floor, dresser, and nightstand. Then move onto the less obvious areas like your dresser drawers and closet. Even though you may not see these messes, you still know they’re there, which can cause plaguing, nagging thoughts that keep you up at night. Next, file away important paperwork including bills and schoolwork in an office or file cabinet. Make sure all your dirty clothes end up in the hamper instead of a pile on your floor. Don’t keep food items or dirty dishes in your bedroom, either. Remember, eating is reserved for the kitchen or dining room.
The best way to keep your bedroom clutter-free and avoid feeling overwhelmed is to create a system and stick with it.
Create a Bedroom Fit for a King or Queen
At the end of a long day, you deserve to enter a calm, welcoming bedroom fit for royalty. The best way to promote quality sleep and ensure you get the rest you need is to create a bedroom environment that’s dark, quiet, and comfortable. Invest in quality bedding and both noise and light reducing devices. The temperature and air quality of your bedroom also play a role in how well you sleep.
Investing in your bedroom environment is an investment in your overall health and wellbeing. Without adequate sleep, you can’t function at your best. Transforming your bedroom is a form of self-care that you should consider today!