How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Do you start your day with renewed energy, or feel drained and slow when beginning your daily routine? Think back to the night before. Were you able to spend some time feeling relaxed before falling asleep, budgeting plenty of time for a good night’s rest? Your bedroom environment can help shift your state of mind from day to night, as well as support your physical body’s transition into sleep.
Many people don’t get adequate amounts of sleep; while working-age adults should ideally aim for 7-9 hours a night, a large portion of the population is chronically under-rested. While there are many reasons you might struggle with achieving a solid sleep schedule, one of the easiest to change is the atmosphere in which you head off to dreamland. For some, sleep quality isn’t the issue - it’s getting to bed and falling asleep in a timely fashion at bedtime.
We’ve compiled some of the most essential and most doable changes you can make to your sleeping space to make it a welcoming and relaxing place for your bedtime routine! Try adjusting your bedroom to strategize for sleep:
1. Keep your bedroom dedicated to rest
When you start winding down with your sleep ritual at night, stepping into your bedroom should signal to your body and mind that it’s time to prepare for bedtime. Using your bedroom as a multi-purpose work and entertainment space can dilute your bedroom’s association with sleep. If you’re strapped for space in your home and must utilize your bedroom in other ways, keep your bed as a committed sleep space rather than a lounge-to-watch-Netflix spot, and try a privacy screen around your desk to keep your work area out of sight. Reminders of work while you’re trying to relax can mess with your calm!
For much of the year, you may need artificial light in your bedroom as you prepare to sleep at night. Both the type as well as the strength of the light in your bedroom can affect your sleep. Emitted by electronics as well as some energy-efficient lighting, blue light can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate your circadian rhythm. It’s also best to avoid screens in bed altogether, and reduce your blue light intake near bedtime - there are apps to shift your computer’s display warmer in the evening.
Dimming the lights as you prepare for bed can induce relaxation - try a soft bedside lamp or even a couple of candles as you wind down. When you’re ready to sleep, darkness is ideal: if your bedroom gets ambient light like that from streetlights, then blinds, thick curtains, or even blackout curtains can help.
3. Color therapy
Not everyone is an amateur interior designer, we know! There are some foolproof ways to change the feeling of your bedroom with color, though. While the field of color therapy is still fairly new, the concept that color can affect your mood is not. Changing the paint colors in your bedroom to a soothing hue can help you associate your bedroom with calm. If you have budget or time constraints preventing you from re-painting, you can try switching up other sources of color in your bedroom with wall hangings, art, bedding, and curtains.
4. Daily maintenance
Seeing a graveyard of empty water glasses on your bedside table isn’t going to help your brain cycle down, and neither is climbing into a rumpled, unmade bed. The state of your sleeping quarters at bedtime can influence your readiness for rest. It’s also worth regularly decluttering your bedroom so there are no distracting “piles” - everything should have a home! Developing a habit of automatically making your bed in the morning (even if it’s not perfect!) and spending five to ten minutes tidying before lying down as part of your sleep ritual can pay off when you’re lying in a clean, curated room.
5. Sleep hygiene
In addition to restricting blue light via electronic screens, it’s important to put your devices away before bed and practice good sleep hygiene at bedtime. The sounds and light which accompany notifications can disturb you, and it’s easy to be tempted into “doomscrolling” when you should be cycling down for the day. Move your chargers to different areas or rooms so that laptops, tablets, and smartphones aren’t within arm’s reach from your bed.
If you rely on your phone for an alarm, place it across the room instead of at your bedside, which can also help motivate you to get out of bed promptly in the morning. Another option is to switch your phone alarm out entirely. You can try an analog alarm clock (one that doesn’t give off light) so that you are smart technology-free while you slumber.
6. Stay cool
Reduce the temperature at night for better rest. It’s very difficult to relax when you’re overheating and sweaty, and being too warm can contribute to intermittent sleep. There are cooling mattresses and pillows available that may help prevent overheating, and breathable, natural fibers like cotton or linen are ideal for bedding materials. But there are also simple options besides purchasing high-tech bed solutions. Whether it’s turning down the thermostat or just cracking a window to the cool night air, consider reducing the temperature in your bedroom for deeper rest and an increased sense of coziness as you snuggle up under your blankets!
If you’re struggling with a chronic sleep deficit, you may wish to explore further avenues for augmenting your body’s ability to rest beyond adjusting your environment. Sleep problems can have a severe, detrimental impact on your quality of life, so it’s important to prioritize finding solutions. It can be rewarding to implement some shifts in your lifestyle, or starting a supplementation routine that includes specially-formulated, sleep-focused supplements to maximize your opportunities for rest.