7 Ways to Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary
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Written By: Melissa Fiorenza
Think it’s totally fine to skimp on sleep and get through life that way? Get this: Being awake for 18 hours straight and then getting behind your steering wheel is akin to driving like you have a blood alcohol level of .05 (.08 is considered drunk), according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Drowsy driving is no joke. Neither is trying to work, exercise, communicate with others, think critically, or essentially function like a human being when you really feel like a zombie who desperately needs to lie down. Sound like you?
A surefire way to get more zzzs is to turn your bedroom into a dreamy nighttime oasis that makes you feel tired, comfortable, and ready to sink into a good sleep—no distractions, no excuses.
Are you getting enough sleep?
First, find out if you’re getting more, less, or exactly the number of hours of shut-eye you really need. Here’s what the NSF recommends:
Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours
If you already score an A+ in your age range but wish you could fall asleep sooner—or have a more restful sleep to make your Fitbit stats happier—read on. And if your grade is nowhere near passing, then take good notes. Time to put the issue of inadequate sleep to rest with a welcoming, serene bedroom.
Fall in love with lavender
Countless studies have explored the association between the scent of lavender and a good night’s rest. The verdict? It has indeed been shown to send men and women into deeper sleeps and more energetic mornings. Your homework: keep your daily perfume application to the confines of your bathroom, and treat your bedroom only to the aromas of the lavender variety. Splurge on LAFCO’s Chamomile Lavender Master Bedroom Diffuser ($115) or even just try using ECOSBreeze™ Fabric and Carpet Odor Eliminator ($5.58) in their Lavender Vanilla scent—formulated with a calming, relaxing lavender essential oil—when you clean.
When your bedroom is too hot, it can affect the quantity and quality of your sleep, says Rebecca Lee, New York City-based registered nurse and founder of RemediesForMe.com. “Research suggests that a cool room between 60-65 degrees F (16 -19 C) will help keep your body at the right sleeping temperature,” she explains. Experiment with different sheets and comforters to make sure you’re not too warm, and try adding a fan to your room—either one placed by an open window or hanging overhead—to see if that helps you snooze better.
Get the lighting right
Take into consideration both natural and artificial light when designing your sleep haven. Depending on the direction your bedroom windows face, you might be accosted by full moons, street lights, security lights, or car headlights, says Caitlin Hoff, Health & Safety Investigator for ConsumerSafety.org. “Even if you don't wake up, this change in light can disrupt your deep sleep,” she adds. Look for blackout curtains to keep out any unwanted light, and for your room's interior lights, she says, consider soft lighting instead of fluorescent lights to encourage rest and relaxation.
Be strategic about your colors
If you’ve got a rainbow of hues springing from your artwork, your area rug, your bedding, and your decor overall, it’s time to make a shift. Shades of blue are the best for sleep, as they promote longer slumber, says Chris Brantner, Certified Sleep Science Coach at SleepZoo.com. “The ganglion cells in our eyes help send our brain info that regulates our circadian rhythm. And those cells are sensitive to blue. Blue is associated with calmness, which can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure to get you to sleep.” Don’t love blue tones? Branter says greys and similar neutral colors can also add to a calm atmosphere. “While people say red stimulates passion, I'd do my best to stay away from any harsh colors,” he adds.
Be a minimalist
When it comes to your bedroom, the ubiquitous phrase “less is more” absolutely applies here too. If you’re entering a messy room before bed, it’s likely to induce anxiety, explains Brantner. “Clutter causes excessive stimulation, which isn’t exactly great for winding down. That anxiety is going to make it difficult to get into bed and shut your brain down to transition into a relaxed state of sleepiness.” Take a day off to empty out your room, keeping as few stimuli as possible. A calming plant? Keep it. A flat screen that only enables you to stay up past your bedtime? Might be time to move it elsewhere.
Soundproof your slumber
Live in a neighborhood where the kids stay up playing ball all hours of the night? Or in the city where the sound of cars honking is a constant backdrop? “Nothing is more annoying than noisy interruptions during your slumber,” says Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert. His tips: “Consider using a white noise machine to help drown out any distracting noises such as busy streets or rambunctious roommates. If that doesn’t help, you can always settle for some good old-fashioned ear plugs.”
Stick to these two things
Pop quiz: Which of the following activities are okay to do in your bed? 1) Finish up your work. 2) Fold laundry. 3) Scroll through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. 4) None of the above. Hopefully it’s obviously that #4 should be your bedroom’s golden rule. “Your bed should be used for only two things—sleep and intimacy,” says Dr. Kansagra. “All other activities should be performed outside of your bed, and ideally, outside of your room. When you walk into your bedroom, you want your mind to start focusing on sleep, not about your latest work assignment.”
Now’s the fun part: shopping for whatever it is you need to redesign your bedroom. Think of it as an investment for your future. Sleeping well is one of our six steps to a healthier you.