May is Better Sleep Month, and one of the best ways to get started on a path towards better sleep health is to start at the source: your bedroom. Bedrooms are supposed to be a sleep sanctuary, but as our lives get busier and new tech gadgets become more mainstream, our rooms have become more multi-purpose. Where at one time we would dedicate the bedroom to sleep, we now use it as a second office, a TV room, and even a second closet.
What can you do to get your sleep health back on track? Let’s start by designing a bedroom for optimal sleep.
1. Choose bedding that’s right for you
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 93% of Americans believe a comfortable mattress is important to getting a good night’s sleep. To find your perfect mattress, take a look at how you sleep. Are you a back sleeper? Side sleeper? A rare stomach sleeper? Not all mattresses are the same, so choose one that supports your chosen sleep position the best.
They also report that 91% of those surveyed change their sheets every two weeks. Invest in a couple sets of comfortable sheets so that you’re always comfortable, even during laundry day.
2. Adjust your lighting
Our bodies have a natural reaction to light. They tell us when it’s time to turn down for the night and when it’s time to get up in the morning. Artificial light, like the light emitted from cellphones, computers, or tablets, can send messages to the brain to wake up, suppressing the production of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. The National Sleep Foundation found that even bright rooms can have this effect. It’s no surprise that their study found that 73% of Americans rate a dark bedroom as one of the most important factors to getting a good night’s sleep.
Easy solutions to navigating the body’s reaction to artificial light would be to step away from screens a couple of hours before bed. The iphone also recently released a new update that includes “Night Shift”, a new tool that helps counteract the body’s reaction to artificial lights. You can also purchase black out curtains to help get the right amount of darkness you may need to fall asleep naturally.
3. Get rid of clutter
A new study suggests that those who live in clutter are at a higher risk for developing a sleep disorder. Your mind sees clutter as another task that will need to be done and weigh on you, consciously or unconsciously. According to Christa O’ Leary, author of Home in Harmony, this can prevent you from fully recharging overnight.
‘If you wake up and are immediately depleted by your surroundings, it will impact your well-being as you move through the rest of your day. Your bed and bedroom should be a sanctuary where you’re able to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.”
Bedroom clutter usually boils down to clothing. Sort through your clothes seasonally and sell (or donate) what you don’t want or need anymore. Make your bedroom a sleep only space and move paperwork, business and/or school items, and books to the study or living room. Invest in furniture that has built-in storage, so that you can use the extra drawer space for tidying up.
4. Adjust the temperature
Ever wake up too hot and sweaty? It’s not in your head. Studies show that the best temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees fahrenheit.
“People tend to set their ambient house or bedroom temperature a little higher than is actually optimal for sleep,” says Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. “The body’s core temperature needs to drop by about 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit to initiate sleep. If our core temperature is too high the brain cannot easily make the switch from being awake to being asleep, or create the best quality sleep.” (WSJ)
If you can’t set your thermostat to the optimal temperature, try putting your feet outside of your covers to cool down.
5. Choose calming colors and accents
Put plantlife in your room that has a soothing effect. Jasmine and lavender are both calming plants that you can scatter around your room. Snake plants are also great to put in a bedroom because they thrive on carbon dioxide, turning into oxygen. Increased oxygen is great for inducing better and more stable sleep.
Invest in plush rugs and cushions to help make the room balanced acoustically. Invest in pieces that are neutral colors to help enhance the calm nature of the space.