Many people pine for better sleep, but few think to blame their bedrooms for being the sources of their exhaustion.
In reality, the quality of a person’s sleep environment can have huge ramifications for his or her ability to fall and stay asleep.
The good news?
Improved shuteye may be only a few simple bedroom hacks away.
Here are six changes you should make to your bedroom to start reaping the rewards of better sleep:
1. Designate the bed for sleep and sleep alone.
Thanks to the ubiquity of handheld electronics, many of us have made a habit of taking email, texts, social media and Netflix binges into bed with us.
But the hard truth is that doing anything other than sleeping or having sex in bed — even something as wholesome as reading a book — can cause our brains to associate the bed with activity instead of rest.
Rebrand the bed as a space for sleeping by banishing all other activities to outside the bedroom.
2. Straighten up.
Cluttered bedrooms can cause distractions and make it harder to relax.
(It also ups your risk of falling over a pile of laundry when you get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night).
Make a point of keeping the bedroom neat and organized by scheduling a few minutes of straightening at the same time every day.
Limit furniture and other items only to the essentials; if an item doesn’t promote restfulness, then get it out of the bedroom.
3. Change up the lighting.
Studies consistently find that exposure to electrical lights in the hours leading up to bed can suppress levels of melatonin (a hormone essential for sleep), which can make it harder to catch some Zs.
Not only that, but people tend to sleep better in darkened rooms.
Improve your sleep quality by dimming the lights several hours before hitting the sheets and using so-called “soft” or “warm” light bulbs, which are less harsh than standard options.
It can also be helpful to hang blackout curtains so that street lighting doesn’t disrupt your sleep.
Since keeping the curtains closed is a helpful home security practice, you’ll sleep even more soundly knowing that peeping Toms can’t see into your windows.
4. Invest in a quality mattress and bedding.
Choosing the right mattress can transform your sleep quality and help you wake up feeling good.
When shopping for a new mattress, your main priority should be personal comfort.
That means you need to develop an understanding of your typical sleeping style.
Are you a side, back or stomach sleeper? Choose a mattress based on that.
Side sleepers should look for a thick comfort layer to absorb spinal pressure.
Back sleepers should be happy with a thinner comfort layer (aim for one that’s around 2 inches thick).
Stomach sleepers should look for even thinner comfort layers and firm mattresses.
While you’re at it, invest in comfortable pillows and bedding, and remember to clean your sheets on a regular basis so the bed remains an inviting space.
5. Consider a new paint job.
If your bedroom walls are painted in bold colors or busy patterns, consider converting to a more restful color palette.
Soft blues, grays, sages and ivories are solid choices.
If you need something a little more interesting, consider adding a basic stripe or ombré.
Save the bolder design choices for other parts of the home.
6. Keep a notebook on the bedside table.
This may sound odd, but keeping a journal or notebook handy can be a great tool for getting better sleep.
If you find yourself tossing and turning after climbing into bed or waking up in the middle of the night riddled with anxiety, grab the notebook and jot down whatever’s worrying you.
Knowing that you’ve expressed your concerns and won’t forget about critical parts of your to-do list the next morning can help your brain relax.
Modern science tells us that anyone who’s struggling to sleep better has a lot more tools at his or her disposal than simply counting sheep.
By making strategic adjustments to your bedroom environment, you’ll be on your way to more consistent, better quality and more restful shuteye.