Getting enough sleep is vital to our health and overall sense of wellbeing. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, getting the right amount of quality sleep supports our mental and physical health, and even our safety. There’s also evidence that regular, deep sleep affects our concentration and productivity.
Certain health conditions (insomnia, menopause) and life circumstances (having a child, working overnights) can negatively impact our sleep. However, many factors that encourage great sleep are within our control.
Creating an environment conducive to sleep is an excellent way to support good sleep habits. Collectively, these supportive sleep habits−including keeping a consistent bedtime routine−are known as sleep hygiene. Setting up an environment for peaceful and deep rest is a foundational element of sleep hygiene, which in turn positively supports multiple aspects of our lives.
Here are some of our best tips for making your bedroom a key component of sleep success.
First, Set a Clear Purpose for Your Bedroom
This tip might seem like common sense, but for some of us the lines can blur if we also work, pursue hobbies, or watch TV (or all of the above) in our sleeping spaces. Some experts argue that a bedroom should have a very narrow purpose – sleeping and sex. Others argue that pets should also have their own designated sleeping spaces in order to minimize interruptions.
These suggestions are good starting points, but they may not work for everyone. For example, living in a small apartment might mean having to work in a bedroom, or you may derive comfort from having a pet sleep on your bed—and your pet may agree.
Giving some thought to what belongs in your bedroom and when can create a more calming and restful environment. If you have a desk or space for hobbies in your bedroom, try to keep the clutter to a minimum to create a relaxing environment. The act of putting things away can itself become a part of your daily sleep hygiene routine, signaling to your body and brain that you’re transitioning to bedtime.
Keep Your Bedroom “Cool, Dark and Quiet”
In a Cleveland Clinic blog post, sleep psychologist Michelle Drerup recommends thinking of your bedroom like a cave, keeping it “cool, dark, and quiet.” While the ideal bedroom temperature varies by individual, if a room is too hot or cold for your preferences, it can negatively affect your sleep. Pay attention to whether you’re piling blankets around yourself or kicking off the covers overnight, and consider adjusting your thermostat accordingly to see if it makes a difference.
Minimizing the amount of light and noise in a bedroom can also improve sleep quality. Use room-darkening curtains and shades if outside light intrudes on your slumber. A growing body of research indicates a negative impact from blue light emitted by phone, laptop, and TV screens on sleep. A good practice is to power down about 30 minutes before bedtime. This signals to your eyes and brain that it’s time for sleep.
If noise is an issue, consider ear plugs or a white noise machine to minimize ambient noise that can interrupt sleep.
Treat Yourself to a Comfortable Bed and Cozy Bedding
Aside from your greater sleeping space, a comfortable bed is an essential component of good sleep hygiene. Start by splurging on good sheets and blankets; if you sleep hot, look for cooling sheets and blankets. If you’re often cold, a down or a down alternative comforter will help you stay warm through the night.
The point of these sleep hygiene tips isn’t to adopt every single one of these ideas, but rather to help you adjust your sleep situation to get the best possible rest. Creating a cozy environment conducive to deep sleep is a great first step on the road to regular blissful slumber.