Designing your bedroom for better sleep

As mentioned here, getting enough sleep is my top tip for being happier. Lack of sleep is insidious. It can show up not just as sleepiness and tiredness, but also as crankiness, depression and an overall feeling of unhappiness. You may think you’re getting enough, but if you have the feeling that everything is difficult and overwhelming, you may simply need a little extra shut-eye. In this article, I’ll cover 10 tips to design your bedroom for better sleep.

1 | Limit bedroom activities to sleep and partner-time

Bedrooms sometimes morph into TV viewing rooms, offices, exercise rooms, and sometimes dining rooms 🙂 However, to ensure your body and mind associate the bedroom with sleep, you should limit the activities there to sleep and private time with your partner.

If you live in a small space and your bedroom has to multi-task, at least try to open up as much space as possible around the bed to give you the mental separation from other activities.

2 | Banish all electronics including phones, tablets, and TVs

Top help with #1, try banishing all electronics from your bedroom. This includes phones, tablets, and TVs. This can be a difficult one if you’re used to having your phone with you at all times, or if you find watching movies in bed the height of indulgence. Even so, give it a try. Your brain can’t fully relax if it’s listening for pings and buzzes, and it can be hard to unwind and sleep well if you’ve just finished watching a suspenseful episode of Black Mirror.

It’s not just the content that you see that can disrupt your sleep. Electronic screens emit blue light that can suppress your melatonin production. Electronics also emit electromagnetic radiation that can disrupt your sleep cycles.

The one exception I make is my Kindle, and I keep the brightness very low and only read very light stories, usually ones that I’ve already read. You don’t want to be reading a page-turner and get the adrenaline buzzing right before you shut down!

Again, if you’re in a small apartment or space, at least try to separate the TV and the bed, and switch your phone to silent mode when you go to bed.

3 | Manage the light

Your circadian rhythms are very tied to light exposure. In order for your melatonin production to kick in correctly, you want to minimize your exposure to bright or blue-tinted light (like from glowing screens.)

Warmer light is ok so that means you’ll want warm colored, dimmable light bulbs in your lamps and light fixtures.

You might also consider blackout drapes if you have windows in your bedroom.

Finally, I use a light-based alarm clock to help me transition to wakefulness in the morning. It’s also really helpful to be able to take a quick peek and know, by taking a quick glance at whether the clock is lighting up or not, whether I’m within 30 minutes of my wake-up time.

Don’t forget to block or turn away any small LED lights (from appliances, etc.) or clock faces. You want to be able to sleep in complete darkness!

The final step you can take, if you can’t completely control the light in your room, is to try a sleeping mask. I have one and often use it when I travel.

4 | Manage the sound

It’s a no-brainer that it’s easier to sleep when it’s quiet. Most of the time, though, if noise is an issue, it’s a source that’s beyond your control (traffic, other family members, neighbors, etc.) So here are a couple of ideas to manage the sound so that you can drift off:

  • White noise: you can purchase a dedicated white noise generator, or you can use a box fan, or, as a last resort, you can get an app on your phone (although ideally, as mentioned before, your phone should be in another room when you’re sleeping.) Any of these items can drown out ambient noise, covering up the inconsistencies so you can relax and sleep.
  • Earplugs: this is what I do. I use these wax earplugs from Might plugs and they are the best. They block more noise than any other earplug I’ve tried, and they’re much more comfortable. I have basically been sleeping with these earplugs in for over 10 years. They are highly recommended for light sleepers!

5 | Keep the temperature low

Because your body temperature dips when you sleep, studies have shown that keeping the room temperature on the cool side (between 65 and 72) helps promote better sleep. Don’t go too low, though, because that can also disrupt sleep.

I tend to leave the room cool, but put socks on to keep my feet warm.

6 | Minimize clutter

Even though your eyes are closed, your brain still remembers and registers that you are in a cluttered environment. It can be hard to relax with the ‘noise’ of many objects surrounding you, especially if they are out of place and disorganized. It is worth keeping as few knick-knacks, books, exercise equipment, pieces of furniture and papers in you bedroom as possible. This also re-emphasizes the idea that your bedroom is a place dedicated to sleep and partner-time.

7 | Keep the decor Zen-like

In keeping with the idea of minimizing clutter to cut down on visual ‘noise’, the color and decor of your room can also enhance the restfulness of your bedroom. There is some evidence to say that soft shades of blue are the best colors to promote sleep. In general, I would advise a neutral palette without loud or contrasting patterns.

8 | Optimize your bedding

It’s worth ensuring that your mattress, sheets and pillows are as comfortable as possible. I personally prefer a firm bed and am so happy with my platform bed, foam mattress and wool mattress pad. These keep me extremely comfortable and I additionally have had no back issues since putting this setup together.

Sheets can get extremely expensive, but I’ve found these affordable, comfortable and durable sheets on Amazon and every bed in the house is now outfitted with them. They also come in colors that should match any decor.

Finally, to prevent a sore neck, I use this traction pillow and it definitely keeps me sleeping happily.

9 | Consider including a few plants

The inclusion of plants in your bedroom can lower anxiety levels, leading to better sleep. By absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen, plants also improve the air quality in the room. It’s like having a natural oxygen tank!

Finally, plants like jasmine and lavender can emit a subtle and relaxing fragrance.

10 | Try scenting the air

Which brings me to my last point. I’m not much of a fragrance person myself, but a subtle waft of an essential oil like lavender, chamomile, neroli or ylang ylang may be just what you need to disconnect and drift off. You could mix these with water and spray them in the air or on your sheets earlier in the day, or use a diffuser. Either way, you’ll enhance the zen- and spa-like feel of your bedroom.

Designing your bedroom for better sleep

Following these tips will ensure that your bedroom is optimally designed for sleep. Sweet dreams!

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