Do you often find yourself tossing and turning, struggling to fall asleep at night? There are a number of potential causes for this, but the most obvious is that you simply can’t get comfortable. Maybe your bed is too stiff. Maybe the room is too hot. Maybe there’s too much ambient light streaming in. Or maybe there’s something about the room that just makes it difficult for you to shut off your brain.
Creating an optimal sleep environment is one of the best things you can do to ensure deep, restful, restorative sleep. And, developing such an environment is possible no matter the size of your bedroom. In this article, we’ll offer some tips for bedrooms of all sizes.
Limit Light Exposure
Another important area of creating an ideal sleep environment is minimizing the ambient light in the room. This includes both natural light and the blue light emitted by your electronic devices. Both forms of light can interfere with your body’s circadian rhythms; that is, your internal clock.
Even a small amount of light can signal to your body that it’s time to be awake and alert. As one Harvard study puts it, “Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.”
- For small bedrooms: Remember that, in a more confined space, your TV, tablet, and phone are all going to be closer to the bed. Think seriously about shifting all of these items to another room, or ensuring they are all turned off at least an hour before bedtime.
- For large bedrooms: In addition to minimizing blue light emissions, you may also wish to get blackout curtains to keep outside lights from streaming in.
Declutter your Room
A good place to start is by cleaning your room. Studies show that a cluttered sleeping environment can actually induce stress, making it more difficult for you to attain anything resembling peace or serenity.
Stray objects that pile up in your room may cause you to feel anxious, but taking the time to straighten up your room each evening before bed can make it easier for you to find your zen. According to The Mayo Clinic, “De-cluttering can have as much of an effect on your well-being as it does on your physical space.”
Beyond nightly clean-up, how can you ensure your room remains relatively clutter-free?
- For small bedrooms: Look for some clever ways to create storage opportunities in your bedroom, such as small baskets or boxes that you keep under your bed, or vertical shelving units. And if you have a decent closet space, try to optimize it, keeping clutter out of sight and out of mind as you try to sleep.
- For large bedrooms: Remember that just because you have a larger space, it can still become cluttered. Avoid using your big bedroom as a parking space for items that really belong elsewhere, like exercise equipment, your workspace area, etc.
Choose The Right Bedroom Color
Believe it or not, even the color of your bedroom can impact sleep quality. That’s because some colors are simply more calming than others, helping prepare your mind for a good night’s rest. According to experts, the most soothing bedroom colors are cool ones, like light blue and grey. Neutral tones also work well. If your current bedroom palette involves hotter, more vibrant tones, you may be due for a new paint job.
- For small bedrooms: Remember that soft tones, like off-white, blue, and green can not only help you feel calm, but also make the room feel larger than it is.
- For large bedrooms: To help your bedroom feel cozy and intimate, consider painting it in warm, autumnal tones.
A final consideration: How does your room smell? Soothing scents may help you relax and find sleep more easily. (After all, the sense of smell is directly connected to emotions and memories.) So, essential oils or candles can help you fill your room with smells that put you in a happier, more tranquil place. Some scents that typically work well for sleep include lavender, vanilla, rose, and sandalwood.
- For small bedrooms: Be careful when you burn candles in a small space, and also make sure you don’t overdo it, allowing a strong aroma to overpower the room. It may be enough for you to light a candle for just a few minutes before bed, then snuff it out before hitting the hay.
- For large bedrooms: Large bedrooms provide more opportunities to place candles and essential oil diffusers, so remember that you don’t necessarily want them right beside your bed. Place them close enough that you’ll be able to smell them, but not so close that you’ll find the sensation too pungent.
Find The Right Temperature
The ambient temperature in your bedroom can play a huge role in how well you sleep. According to The Cleveland Clinic, adults typically need something between 60 and 67 degrees to ensure a good night’s sleep. For babies and toddlers, something warmer is needed, closer to 70 degrees.
Note that a room that’s too hot will make you more likely to wake up with the night sweats, and room temperature can also diminish your ability to get deep, restorative sleep. Finally, note that some mattresses (including memory foam ones) trap body heat; it’s important to have a cool room, but also to have a cooling mattress.
- For small bedrooms: Adjust your ceiling fan according to the season. Keep curtains closed during the day to keep the sun out. At night, keep your bedroom door open to promote air circulation.
- For large bedrooms: In addition to the tips above, also remember that small box fans can help circulate the air, without adding too much to your cooling bills.
The Bottom Line
Your immediate surroundings have a huge impact on how easily you find sleep. That includes everything from the temperature to the level of light in your room. It may require some work and some creativity to make your room an optimal sleep environment, but with these tips, it should be more than doable… and highly worthwhile.
Andrew is a Charlotte, NC native who learned the importance of a good night’s sleep in college after too many late nights in the library. Today, he helps connect Mattress Clarity’s array of resources with people looking to get a better night’s sleep. He enjoys researching the links between sleep and health, nutrition, and exercise as well as finding practical ways for people to improve their sleep quality.