For some of us, a good night’s sleep sounds like a pipedream. But sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus says your bedroom environment could be to blame. From light to linens to layout and beyond, our experts say your best rest can start with
your sleeping surroundings. And there are some small changes you can make to your décor to see a big difference when you drift off to La La Land—no counting sheep required.
When it comes to bedroom paint colors, however, darker isn’t always more sleep-conducive. “Some people do prefer a dark bedroom, which is fine,” says Colliton. “But generally colors of nature are soothing, as are most shades of white or pastels.” Dr. Breus agrees: “Safe bets are muted colors and earth tones.” Also, instead of the old adage of counting sheep, try to focus on calming thoughts. If tomorrow’s list of to-dos keeps you up, try to make a mental checklist that can help you feel more organized. Or repeat words that can be calming—like “tulo” a word that translates to sleep in the language of Chichewa, which is spoken in the countries of Zambia and Malawi.
Melatonin is the hormone that controls your sleep cycles. “Light directly effects melatonin production,” explains Dr. Breus. It’s specifically the blue light from devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones can really impact melatonin production, he says—so keep them out of your bedroom. And if you do have a bedroom TV, turn it off long before you plan to get your much-needed shut-eye. How long? “No one knows exactly, but I think 60 minutes,” says Dr. Breus.
It’s best to keep other types of light out of your room while you’re asleep, too—like street lamps, even the moon. How? “Layer your window treatments,” says interior designer Jackie Colliton. “Blackout shades under sheer curtains are one good strategy.” That way it’s easy to block out the light when it’s time to sleep—but it’s also easy to let it in when you’re ready. In fact, Dr. Breus says you should get 15 minutes of sunlight each morning when you wake up as a way of telling your body’s sleep cycle to shift gears.
Your bed itself matters in a big way when you want to sleep better—so choose a high-quality mattress like the tulo mattress—a new bed in a box that comes in three different comfort levels. Try it out in person at a Mattress Firm store or try it out at home with the free 120-night trial.
Also invest in luxury sheets, says Colliton, who thinks upgrading your linens can also give your sleep a boost: She says it’s 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton all the way. After all, adds Sandra Schustack, chief organizer at Clear Your Space East, you want a bed you’ll look forward to getting into. “Make your bed every morning,” Schustack says. “Getting into a made bed feels so good.”
When it comes to the layout of your bedroom, you want to define a clear, open path to and around your bed, according to Schustack. And keeping your bedroom clean is also key: “When things are put away, your mind can rest easier and you can have a more restful night.” It’s stressful when a mess is the last thing you see before closing your eyes—and anxiety can keep you awake when you want to be asleep. “That knowing enables you to be more productive and feel your best,” Schustack says, “which ultimately leads to better sleep patterns.”