Your Bedroom, a Tranquil Oasis for Sleep

Where you sleep determines how you sleep. How you sleep determines how rested and ready you are for life’s joys and challenges. Tweaking your bedroom and your family’s bedrooms so they are calm environments doesn’t cost a thing except a little bit of time. But the payoff of a peaceful bedroom is huge. Better rest, health, boosted immune system, and even improved relationships and school performance.

Since we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, it’s important that the bedroom be a place of calm and tranquility. For children, the bedroom is an important place for nightly memories of family connection and care. Here are 10 better choices to tweak the bedroom for your personal – and your family’s – best sleep.

1. Clear the Bedroom Clutter

The bedroom is a private place so visitors rarely enter. The exception are those winter and holiday parties where the bed is stacked with coats. That’s why the bedroom often ends up being the dumping ground for extra stuff. The first step in making the bedroom a safe haven for sleep is to stop treating it like a walk-in closet or something from Storage Wars.

Even bedroom clutter we cannot see – under the bed, overstuffed closets with the doors closed can disrupt sleep.

Clearing clutter from the bedroom doesn’t have to be a daunting project. As they say in the Flylady system, consistent baby steps get you to your dream bedroom and best sleep. And keeping drama out of your sleep haven is good for all relationships – including the relationship you have with yourself.

Start by looking at the table next to the bed. Does it have what nurtures you on a journey to sleep? Mine has a dream journal and a pen, paper book (no thrillers or mysteries), a Lush Sleep Massage Bar (reducing my personal use of plastic gives me peace of mind), a sleeping mask to block out the light, and a reading lamp.

The grownups in the house don’t have to declutter the bedroom alone. Regular discussions among people living together about and the rhythms of the day is as important as where to go on vacation. The Sleepytime Club Family Meeting Toolkit makes it easy and fun to discuss family concerns and make memories together.

2. Keep the Bedroom Dark

Our “internal clock” (circadian rhythm) is regulated by light. Light is a signal for waking up and being alert, while darkness is a natural signal that it’s time to rest.

Use a minimal amount of light as you begin your bedtime routine. And after lights out time, check on the ambient light in the bedroom. Is there an electronic clock near the bed? Street lamps? Many rely on a sleep mask. They’re affordable and portable which makes them helpful for traveling. Sleep masks are a great comfort “transition object” for children and adults.

Another investment is in blackout curtains. Or you can make your own with these instructions. 

3. Keep the Bedroom Quiet

It goes without saying that playing “get up and party” music before bedtime won’t help you or your family transition to sleep. The sounds from inside the house are (mostly) under your control. It’s those external noises from outside the bedroom that disrupt sleep frequently. The barking dog, car alarms, and sirens.

Nighttime noise has even more serious consequences for seniors.

Ear plugs and white noise machines are effective in blocking out those errant sounds that can disturb sleep. There are a lot of choices out there and in a pinch if you still have a radio you can tune it between stations for white noise. Air conditioners and fans provide white noise while also circulating air and keeping the bedroom cool. You can also go full-on McGiver and build your own white noise machine like this person.

4. Keep it Clean

Wash the sheets, blankets, and refresh your pillows. Add that do a weekly or every-other-week home maintence schedule for better sleep. The National Sleep Foundation did a study which concluded “people who wash their bedding and sheets regularly reported a 19% better rest at night than those who neglected the hygiene of their bedding.”

5. Stay cool, thermally

The optimal bedroom temperature is between 60 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 22.0 degrees Celsius). This is one of the reasons sleep can be a challenge in the summer season. If you don’t have an air conditioner strategically closing the windows and drawing down shades on hot days and opening them when the sun sets is one way to keep the bedroom cool.  Tips for sleeping in the heat are here. Other great cooling ideas can be found at this link.

6. How does your bedroom smell?

I dismissed aromatherapy when I first heard about it. Of course I feel better smelling roses than a garbage dumpster! But I am now a convert to pleasant scents in the bedroom after learning from Johns Hopkins Medicine that the scents directly the amygdala – the emotional center of the brain.

The sense of smell is powerful. So it’s important to actively listen to children should they complain about something being “off” in the bedroom. And listen to your own intuitive wisdom on the subject of a pleasantly-scented bedroom. Be aware that certain paints, bedding and bed materials, and carpeting can emit odors that are unhealthy, challenging sleep and wellbeing. This blog post covers the problem of off-gassing in the bedroom.

7. Keep the Bedroom Personally Pleasant

Here’s an experiment: Dim the bedroom lights or pull down the shades. Lie down as if you’re going to sleep for the night but don’t close your eyes. What’s in your sight line? Does everything you see give you a feeling of “aah”, release, and ease? If not, consider moving that vintage psychedelic poster that undulates from neon colors into a different room.

Now try the same experiment in your child’s bedroom. Is there a coat rack that could look like a scary sandman in the dim light? A stuffed animal that casts a not-so-comforting shadow on the wall?

Bedrooms are safe havens that support our going to sleep. If you must have a work desk in the bedroom, consider dedicating a sleeping area in the bedroom filled with textures, images, and aromas that are pleasing and calm. The work and play area can be blocked off with an inexpensive screen or curtain.

8. Best Bedroom Colors for Sleep

Travelodge did a study about bedroom colors and how they affect sleep. Blue won hands down. Blue is not only calming, but the Travelodge study concluded guests staying in a room painted blue slept 7 hours and 52 minutes. Moreover, 60% of those sleeping in blue rooms woke up happier.

A quick search will turn up other suggestions for best colors to paint the bedroom. Feng Shui experts will tell you that earth colors – light brown, yellow – are colors that evoke love.

9. Keep the Bedroom Screen-Free

On the list of best bedroom choices for better sleep, this item really should be number two, right after clearing the clutter. It’s saved for number nine as keeping screens and electronics out of the bedroom is a huge challenge for many. Keeping electronics out of the bedroom is something we resist even though it has the biggest payoff in terms of sleep, relationships, health, and happiness.

Suggestion: Have a family meeting about this important subject. Ask the older kids to do some research. The kids will love this because most of the grownups in their lives are struggling with electronic distractions. Kids love being on an equal footing with adults. Then together, design a step-by-step family plan to wean yourselves off the electronics in the bedroom.

Meet the challenge: Your future self and your family’s future selves will thank you for it.

10. Set the Intention to Sleep

Bedrooms are rooms dedicated to rest, restoration, and sleep. You can set the intention through the rhythm of your daily bedtime practices as well as the decor and organization of the bedroom. A few other ways to experiment with your bedroom oasis are:

  • Make a sleep vision board (great screen-free activity for kids!) with affirmations and peaceful images to post at the foot of your bed.
  • Consider reversing evening and morning routines. A lavender or cedar scent for bedtime with a peppermint scent for waking up.
  • Ritualizing an bedroom “energy clearing”. Smudge away the bad vibes, make a “monster-be-gone spray” with a child, visualize a purple tornado clearing every corner of the bedroom of negativity.