We spend a lot of time in bed. A third of our lives, to be exact. But even if you’re clocking eight hours under the covers each night, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting proper sleep. The truth is, our bedrooms have the power to make or break our quality of shut-eye. So to help you get the best snooze possible, we’ve compiled this handy bedroom design guide filled with doctor’s tips, scientifically proven sleep facts, and slumber-inducing secrets from interior designers.
Keep It Clean
A clean and relaxing bedroom lays the foundation for better sleep and a healthier life. According to sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D., “When you walk into a room, what your eye sees can actually determine whether or not you’re going to have an easy time falling asleep.” So if there’s a pile of laundry at the foot of your bed or papers stacking up on your nightstand, it’s probably going to stress you out and contribute to a rough sleep.
Furthermore, a recent study conducted by St. Lawrence University shows that people who have a tendency to hoard items or live among lots of clutter are at a much higher risk of having serious sleep problems. So take a look around your room. Is it more often messy than clean? If so, tidying up is the first step to improving your nightly zzz’s.
Make the Bed
Not sure where to begin? How about where you start each day and end each night. Making the bed not only prevents your bedroom from becoming an eyesore, but it’s also a daily ritual that helps build structure in your life. For example, New York-based therapist Susan Lambert has found that some of her patients who have gotten in the habit of making the bed every morning have begun to display more positive feelings. And let’s be real, nothing beats letting go of the day in a freshly made bed.
Dim the Lights
Sometimes our brains need a signal that it’s time to shift into sleep mode. Bright lights make us feel alert, so your bedroom should be equipped with soft, ambient lighting that you can switch to an hour before you go to sleep. But even when the lights go out, the dull glow of an alarm clock or a smartphone screen can be disruptive. Position electronic devices at least three feet away from your bed and avoid using them right before you snooze to prevent electromagnetic frequencies from stimulating your nervous system and waking you up. You should also use darkening shades or curtains to block out any light from outside.
Regulate Your Room Temperature
Feel like you always wake up sweating in the middle of the night? According to findings from a mechanical engineer at Casper, our bodies are pretty good at regulating their own temperatures. But while we’re asleep, our core temperature drops and we shed heat, a lot of which ends up getting locked in by our bedding. Sometimes this keeps us warm, other times it makes us feel like we’re stuck outside on a muggy summer day in Dallas.
The Casper engineer found that even when your room is set to the perfect sleep temperature—65-67 degrees—super high thread count sheets and thick mattresses can result in aggressive swings in humidity that interrupt our zzz’s. The trick is to sleep cool and let your body do the work. Opt for soft bedclothes and a mattress that makes you feel comfortable. We recommend using light linen fabrics or natural fiber cotton bedding, which work with your body to regulate heat.
Choose the Right Bedroom Hues
Believe it or not, the color of your bedroom could be the reason you’re having trouble sleeping. We already know that we sleep best when comfortably cool, so cool colors are the way to go in the bedroom. Blue is specifically thought to help people snooze longer and stronger because of its calming properties. Why? Receptors in the retina of your eyes— ganglion cells—are most sensitive to blue. These cells are responsible for relaying information to the part of your brain that regulates your body’s rhythm, blood pressure, and heart rate. So when your eyes pick up a calming color like blue, your natural rhythm slows down, resulting in a better night’s sleep.
Proper Bed Placement
Your bedroom is your sleep sanctuary, so the bed should be the focus of the room. If possible, center it against the wall, diagonal to the door. Choose an eye-catching frame or headboard to highlight the bed as the center of attention and neutral-colored sheets to evoke a fresh, clean and soothing mood. Symmetrical decor and an open area around the bed invite good sleep vibes your way.
A Well-Scented Sleep
Soothing scents like lavender and jasmine can help slow down your heart rate and lull you into dreamland. Avoid synthetic air fresheners, which can trigger allergies, and opt for essential oils instead. Fresh flowers and plants are also a great way to bring natural scents into your environment.