Nothing undermines your mood and mental and physical performance like not getting enough sleep. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and yet one-third of adults get by on six or less.
In some cases, going to bed too late and getting up very early make getting enough sleep all but impossible. However, for others, sleep is disrupted and of poor quality. Can’t sleep through the night or find that you constantly toss and turn? Your bedroom could be the cause of your problems.
Here are ten ways to optimize your bedroom for better sleep.
1. Upgrade your bed
A good night’s sleep starts with a comfortable bed. If you aren’t comfortable, you’ll wake up throughout the night as you try and find a decent sleeping position. After a night of tossing and turning, it’s all but inevitable that you’ll wake up feeling tired and sore.
There are literally millions of different beds to choose from, and each one suits someone. Be prepared to try a few before settling on the right one for you. Make sure you try before you buy; you can’t rely on online reviews – even from reputable suppliers. Comfort is a very personal thing, and what feels right for one person may not be so good for another.
While you don’t have to spend a fortune on your bed, spend enough money that you get a decent-quality product that will last several years. You may not even have to buy a new bed; replacing your mattress may be all you need to do to get a good night’s sleep. Most mattresses need replacing every 5-10 years.
2. Get the right pillows
A comfortable bed is only part of the sleep equation; you need to consider your pillows too. Pillows tend to wear out faster than mattresses and need to be replaced more often. Good pillows are firm enough to be supportive but soft enough to provide total comfort. Like your bed, you should try before you buy. You may need to mix soft, medium, or firm pillows to find your optimal level of comfort and support.
Most people should only need two pillows. If you feel like you need three, you may have neck or upper back issues that need addressing.
3. Choose the best bedding
Your bedding should keep you warm without making you overly hot. Some people prefer sheets and blankets, while others like duvets. Whatever you choose, you should be comfortable, and your bedding should be easy to clean. You may also need to change your bedding according to the season to make sure you are warm enough in winter, but cool in the summer. Your bedding should also be hypoallergenic.
4. Remove distractions
Your bedroom should a sleep sanctuary and not your workspace or your entertainment room. Keep your bedroom free from distractions that could keep you awake at night. Remove the TV, leave your laptop in another room, and don’t take your tablet or smartphone with you to bed. If you need to relax before sleep, try reading a book – a real book and not one on an app.
5. Declutter your bedroom
A cluttered, untidy bedroom can lead to anxiety and difficulty sleeping. If you are worried about tripping over stuff when you have to get up in the night to visit the bathroom, you are less likely to go, and that means you will lie awake for hours with an uncomfortably full bladder.
If you must store stuff in your bedroom, use under the bed storage boxes to keep your sleeping area free from clutter.
6. Dim the lights, shut the drapes
Too much light can keep you awake. Light disrupts your circadian rhythm, which is how your body regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Your body naturally wakes up when it’s light and expects to sleep when it’s dark. A brightly lit bedroom sends your brain mixed messages, making sleep harder to come by.
Avoid things like nightlights, bright overhead lights, and light pollution from outside. This may mean you need to buy blackout blinds if a lot of outside light invades your bedroom.
If you must have a nightlight, make sure it’s not at eye-level when you are in bed. Instead, place it near the foot of your bed. Also, avoid light-emitting alarm clocks. Even dim lights can tell your brain it’s time to wake up, even if it’s still the middle of the night.
7. Drown out extraneous noise
Unexpected noises can be very distracting and disrupt your sleep. Noisy neighbors, barking dogs, street noise, and even a heavy breathing or snoring partner can stop you from sleeping.
Drown out extraneous noise with a fan or a white noise generator. Low-level, constant sound is easy to ignore but also stops you from hearing those intermittent noises that can be so distracting. White noise can also be very soothing. Imagine falling to sleep while listening to the sound of rain on a windowpane.
Alternatively, consider investing in a set of soft earplugs to block out noise. However, if your earplugs work too well, you could find yourself sleeping through your alarm clock!
8. Paint your bedroom
According to the experts at sleep.org, the color of your bedroom and bedding can have a significant impact on your sleep quality and duration. Like bright light, bright colors stimulate your brain and tell you to wake up. In contrast, calming colors tend to lead to greater relaxation and better sleep. Those same calming colors can also help lower your heart rate, respiratory rate, and even your blood pressure.
Blue, yellow, and green are reportedly the best bedroom colors, but anything neutral that isn’t too bright can also work. If you must have bright colors in your bedroom, limit them to decorative accents or your bedding.
9. Get the temperature right
Your body temperature naturally drops as it gets ready for sleep. If you are too warm, you are less likely to fall and stay asleep. Keeping your bedroom cool (between 60-67 degrees) can help you fall asleep sooner and sleep more soundly.
Adjust your thermostat, use a fan or heater, or match your bedding to the temperature of your room to make sure you are neither too hot nor too cold to sleep soundly.
10. Use aromatherapy
Certain scents can help you relax and sleep more soundly. Both lavender and vanilla are considered effective sleep aids. Keep scent-infused potpourri next to your bed, sprinkle your pillows with essential oils, or use aromatherapy candles to scent your bedroom and create a pleasant, sleep-inducing environment. Through regular use, your brain will start to associate these smells with sleep and will start to unwind and calm down when they are detected.
When it comes to getting enough sleep, many of us are our own worst enemies. Cluttered bedrooms, uncomfortable beds, and too many distractions can all make sleep hard to come by. The good news is that turning your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary is a straightforward process.
Yes, you may need to buy a new bed and pillows, but given that you should spend about a third of your life asleep, whatever you pay will be a very small investment.