From the temperature of your room to decluttering the mess, scientific studies and sleep experts have found that the state of your bedroom and your bedroom habits can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. If you’re gulping down coffee in the morning due to one too many sleepless nights, your bedroom might be the real problem. Start here with some small steps to get the most out of your slumber.
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It goes without saying that pretty things make us happy, and this applies to your bedroom too. If you create a space you enjoy looking at and being in, you’ll start to associate it with a retreat from the hustle and bustle. For a long-term project, consider painting your walls a relaxing shade of blue. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people whose rooms are painted blue tend to sleep longer, as the color is associated with feelings of calmness. If you don’t like blue, grey or silver works too. And for the short-term, hang up some scenic pictures of tropical destinations on your wall or add a touch of appealing decor throughout.
The bedroom should not double as your home office. The purpose of your room should be to help you recharge — not to plug back in to check emails. A good place to start is by not bringing your work bag or laptop into the room. When you leave physical reminders of work outside your bedroom, it will be easier to mentally unwind and slip into a relaxing state of mind. Leaving your bag outside also keeps away the loads of germs stuck to it.
Clutter is a huge culprit when it comes to making your room less sleep-friendly. Laundry piled up, trash overflowing, mail everywhere and the bedsheets half off destroys a relaxing vibe. A fantastic home organizing hack is to pick an area when tackling a messy bedroom — like the corner chair that doubles as your hamper — and focus on getting that space in order before you move on to a different area. This way you’re not overwhelmed and you’re not making a bigger mess trying to clean one up.
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For optimal sleep, your bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation. You don’t want to sweat or shiver in the middle of the night, so this ideal range will help facilitate sound sleep. The sleep experts recommend we think of our bedrooms as caves: quiet, dark and cool.
One of life’s essential rules is to invest in your sleep. That means splurging on a high-quality mattress that will likely last you a good eight to 10 years. And if you’re struggling to find a sweet spot on your mattress night after night, it could mean it needs replacing.
Try not to skimp on your sheets either. Not only should you wash them at least once every two weeks, but you should also pay attention to the quality. You don’t want scratchy or rough sheets, and you also want long-lasting fabrics. According to the Good Housekeeping Institute, 100% cotton is the most popular choice for sheets because it feels soft and natural, but cotton/polyester blends tend to be more durable, less prone to wrinkling and less expensive.
This one seems obvious, but it’s incredibly important in getting a restful sleep so you can slowly work your way to becoming a morning person. Make sure every piece of your bedding is comfortable and clean, from the feel of the sheets and comforter to the firmness of your pillows. It should be so enticing and cozy that you can’t wait to get in.
You’ll first need to establish what type of sleeper you are: a back sleeper, a stomach sleeper or a side sleeper. Per the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations, if you’re the latter, you should go for a firm pillow with extra-wide panels along all four sides to help bridge the distance between your ear and shoulder. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you could nix the pillow completely or choose the thinnest one possible. And if you’re a back sleeper, a thinner memory foam or water pillow will be your best bet. And no matter what type of sleeper you are, your pillow should always keep its shape without needing to be fluffed.
Sleep technology is filled with temperature-regulating sheets and form-fitting mattresses, but weighted blankets might be what’s missing for people who struggle to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, because weighted blankets are designed to mimic the feeling of being held down gently, the pressure has been shown to increase serotonin, which is involved in the regulation of sleep. A weighted blanket can also decrease anxiety and reduce restlessness as it decreases activity in the nervous system and provides a comforting and gentle downward force across your body.
A National Sleep Foundation survey found that people who regularly make their beds in the morning were also more likely to get a good night's sleep. So do yourself a favor and tidy up before heading out the door.
The lighting in the room should be low wattage. According to the Better Sleep Council, lights with a wattage of 45 to 50 offer ambient light or gentle light for reading in bed. Lampshades can also help diffuse lighting throughout your room.
Windows are essential to a bedroom so the sun can shine in and brighten up the space. But for when you want to get in bed while the sun is still out, or sleep in while the sun is rising, you’ll want to invest in room-darkening shades or covers that let you shut your eyes through the brightness.
Aromatherapy relies on the sense of smell to heal the mind, body and soul. Essential oils can be used for a variety of purposes, from boosting mood to relieving headaches, but they can also be effective for sleep. In a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, researchers indicated lavender oil promotes deeper sleep and the smell of orange oil decreases anxious feelings. The calming and pleasant aromas are perfect for putting your mind at ease, and some diffusers turn off automatically after the water runs out, making it absolutely OK to keep them running overnight.
Meditation is not easy, but it’s worth trying before bed if you have made your bedroom the right environment. Every night, squeeze in a little “me time” to breathe in and out slowly, focusing on the moment and nothing else. In fact, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine a few years ago suggested that mindful meditation, which is a mind-calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment, can help middle-aged and older adults who have trouble sleeping.
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, exposure to light before and during sleep suppresses melatonin. In the evening, your body produces the hormone, which gradually makes you feel sleepy and helps you stay asleep until morning. And researchers found that room light shortens the body's internal representation of night duration. A night light is just fine, but the main room light should be switched off before you sleep.
If you’re a light sleeper and especially sensitive to distracting noises, try using white noise to drown out the unwanted sounds. You can also listen to breezy ocean sounds or drizzling rainfall on your phone (keep it on the floor, not on your bed), or even just turn on the fan.
If you use your phone as an alarm clock, chances are it’s highly tempting to scroll through Instagram as you fall asleep (or try to). Not only do phones stimulate the brain and keep it active, but according to Harvard Health, the screen’s blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin more powerfully than any other light. To boost your happiness hormones and wake up better, put your phone away at least two hours before bedtime and plug in an alarm clock on your bedside table.
Make bedtime an electronic-free zone by putting your devices as far away from the bed as possible. The ding of a notification from your phone, tablet or computer can be super distracting and make you feel restless, so you should also turn the “do not disturb” settings on.
Similar to how the room light or phone screen can disrupt melatonin regulation, any kind of electrical lighting like the one radiating from the TV can impact your sleep quality. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones emit a particular type of blue light that is capable of triggering the brain to stop making melatonin.” In fact, the blue light exposure can even delay the onset of REM sleep (which is the deep sleep stage) and lead to morning drowsiness.
Humidifiers are a great choice for anyone wanting to improve their sleep. And they’re particularly helpful when you’re dealing with the sniffles. A humidifier keeps the air in your room moist and light as opposed to dry and dense, making it easier to breathe and sleep through the night. If you use the machine every night, make sure to clean and dry it out regularly, as mold and bacteria can collect inside. And because low humidity can cause dry skin, having a humidifier is a great way to protect your skin during harsh weather.
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