11 Bedroom Updates for a Better Night's Sleep
Improve the quality of your zzz’s with these easy changes.
With a new year upon us, you may have resolved to get more (or better) sleep in 2017. I’m right there with you. It’s hard to ignore the importance of consistently getting good quality shuteye: It can improve mood and memory, help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of serious diseases, among other things. Many factors — from caffeine consumption to exercise — can affect how well you sleep, but you can make a big impact just by creating an environment that’s conducive to slumber. Try some (or all) of these easy updates in your bedroom to kick-start a more restful year.
It’s hard to wind down when you’re surrounded by paperwork, exercise equipment, to-be-folded laundry and other items that remind you of your to-do list. Take some time to pare down the bedroom, removing anything that doesn't make you feel relaxed. Find new spots for these items in other rooms, or toss/donate things you no longer need. Replace the clutter with a few simple accessories, like a small stack of favorite books or a vase of fresh flowers.
Choose Calming Colors
Neutral Traditional Bedroom With Green Bed
A green upholstered bed makes a splash of color in the serene sea of neutrals of this traditional bedroom. Simple metal and leather stools at the foot of the bed double as end tables.
Emily Minton Redfield
Color has a powerful effect on mood and energy, and the right hues can transform your bedroom into a relaxing retreat. Earthy browns, watery blues and soft greens are some of the most comforting shades, but there’s no one-size-fits-all rule here. Whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed will help you unwind at the end of the day. Start with new bedding or a fresh coat of paint on the walls and see what a difference it makes.
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Neutral Modern Bedroom With Brown Rug
This sustainable modern home in Los Angeles layers natural materials like wood and cotton in earth tones for a style that feels simple and organic.
Prime Five Homes
By now, we’ve all heard that electronics are disruptive to sleep. Watching TV, checking emails or scrolling through social media feeds before bedtime keeps your brain alert, and the blue light emitted by screens inhibits production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep/wake cycles. Sleep.org (powered by the National Sleep Foundation) recommends keeping all electronics outside of the bedroom, and giving yourself at least 30 minutes of screen-free time before bedtime.
If you must use your computer at night, download f.lux, which helps your screen adapt to the lighting conditions of the room you're in. If you have an iPhone, take advantage of the Night Shift setting, which automatically adjusts your display to warmer colors after dark.
Keep It Dark
Even the tiniest glow from a nightlight or outside street lamp can negatively affect your slumber. Invest in blackout curtains, a sleep mask or both for your bedroom. I made several unsuccessful sleep mask purchases that ended up being too tight and uncomfortable to wear at night. I turned to Etsy, and found many sellers who will make custom masks to fit any size noggin.
Buy It: Fox Sleep Mask, $18, etsy.com
Keep It Quiet
Noise is another sleep disturber, particularly if you live in an area with street traffic or loud neighbors. A white noise machine or a fan can work wonders to drown out unwanted sounds. If you share walls with your neighbors, you can even use furniture placement to minimize noise. For example, a bookshelf against a wall can muffle sounds from an adjacent apartment, while a rug can reduce noise from downstairs.
Rethink Your Alarm Clock
If you’re like me, being jolted awake in the morning by a standard alarm clock just doesn’t work. I hit the snooze button several times before I even think about getting up, and even then it’s a struggle. Luckily, there are other, less jarring options out there. A wake-up light, for example, gradually gets brighter for about 30 minutes before your alarm time to wake you up naturally. (I recently purchased one of these, and it’s been life changing.) Many wearable fitness trackers can gently wake you with a silent, vibrating alarm.
Buy It: Philips Wake-Up Light, $109, amazon.com
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Turn Down the Thermostat
Our core body temperatures actually need to drop in order to initiate sleep, and a cool room can help with this transition. Sleep.org recommends keeping bedroom temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees. If you like your home to be a little toastier during the day, consider investing in a smart thermostat. It'll quickly learn your habits and automatically adjust the temperature when it's time for bed.
Buy It: Nest Learning Thermostat, $249, amazon.com
Add Soothing Scents
Certain scents, such as lavender, vanilla and chamomile, are said to promote relaxation. Keep an aromatherapy lotion, linen spray or diffuser on your bedside table to help you unwind at night.
Buy It: Aromatherapy Pillow Mist; $12,50, bathandbodyworks.com
Upgrade Your Pillows
Here’s a trick from Sleep.org to help you determine if your pillows need replacing: If they don’t spring back after you fold them in half, it’s time to let them go. Consider how you sleep when buying new pillows: Back sleepers should choose thin pillows that cradle the neck. Stomach sleepers need the thinnest pillows available, or even no pillows. Side sleepers should opt for firm pillows with gussetting, or extra paneling on the sides.
Buy It: Isotonic Indulgence Side Sleeper Pillow, $39.99-$59.99, bedbathandbeyond.com
Create a Spot for Fido
For some, the sense of security from sharing the bed with a pet can actually promote better sleep, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic. But for others, a pet’s nighttime movements can be disruptive. If you find that your furry friend is waking you up at night, give them their very own comfy spot to sleep off of the bed.
Clear Your Head
If you frequently find yourself unable to fall asleep because tomorrow’s to-do list is running through your head, it may be beneficial to keep a notebook on your bedside table where you can jot down lingering thoughts. Once they’re in writing, you know you won’t forget them, so your brain can stop fixating on them.
Make It: Embroidered Constellation Notebook