When speaking with clients about the importance of getting restful sleep, I have found that usually the last thing most people think about is the importance of having a healthy and sleep friendly bedroom. Given that most people sleep in their bedroom for eight hours every day, the average person will sleep for 229,961 hours in their lifetime or basically one third of their life. That’s a long time to be in one room! It just makes sense that we should want the one place in which we spend one third of our life to be a healthy, sleep friendly sanctuary of-sort – conducive to restful sleep and mindful that sleep is the time and place the body does the most healing and repair work.
12 Effective Tips for a Sleep Friendly Bedroom
Below is a list of the 12 most effective tips I believe are absolutely necessary for a healthy and sleep friendly bedroom.
A sleep friendly bedroom is free of clutter. Clutter represents disorganization and actually collects dust and allergens. Too much clutter can also have a negative effect on one’s emotional state which can cause stress and anxiety and thus, lead to disruption of sleep. On Today.com, Julie Pennell states: “A 2015 sleep study found that people who doze in cluttered rooms and are at high risk for developing hoarding disorder are more likely to have sleeping problems. This includes having trouble falling asleep at night and experiencing rest disturbances.” On the other hand, a tidy room promotes calmness, peace and clarity which contributes to a sleep friendly bedroom.
Clean & Fresh air
Clean air is very important if you want a sleep friendly bedroom. Consider adding a couple of sansevieria plants (also called snake plant) in your bedroom. Sansevieria is a plant that transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen overnight. I highly recommend adding a quality air purifier which continually cleans the air. Another good idea for keeping the air quality clean and fresh is to thoroughly vacuum your bedroom at least every other day and dust furniture and blinds every week using chemical-free “green” products.
Electro-Magnetic (EMF) Pollution Free
Studies show that electromagnetic fields (EMF) from televisions, computers, wireless devices, and even exercise machines can interfere with brain and nervous system signals and impede the production of melatonin and affect the body’s circadian rhythm which can disrupt restful sleep. Himalayan salt lamps have a very relaxing a warm orange light to them and they can also help neutralize electromagnetic radiation. Many of the new smart meters, used to replace a home’s analog electricity meter, are placed directly outside the main bedroom or living area. Smart meters are proving to have some very negative health effects on many people. Consider purchasing electromagnetic protection for your bedroom and home. Power all electronics down at least two hours before bedtime. In fact, something as simple as turning off WiFi when not in use can lesson EMFs greatly. Do your research. Do not sleep with your lap top, Ipad or cell phone on your bed.
Organic Mattress, Pillows & Bedding
Media and advertising tells us that cotton bedding is a safe and much better choice than synthetics. It’s important to know, according to the Pesticide Action Network (PANNA), that nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides are sprayed on cotton fields each year which accounts for more than 10% of total pesticide use and nearly 25% of insecticide use worldwide. As finances allow, begin to replace bedding with all-organic materials. Conventional mattresses are also sprayed with flame retardant as well as stain resistant chemicals. Many mattresses are made of foam that can out-gas for years. Also, wherever you shop be aware of green washing. Green washing is defined as disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. If finances are tight, consider an organic barrier cloth that totally encases your mattress and foundation. You can also clean your mattress every two months by sprinkling the mattress with baking soda. Wait 15 minutes and then use a hand-held vacuum (needs to be powerful) to suck up dust mites, dead skin cells, allergens and bacteria.
Fresh Smelling Room
It is a proven fact that scent affects our mood and smell is our most sensitive sense. The use of aromatherapy (diffusing essential oils) in the bedroom can help to produce restful sleep making a more sleep friendly bedroom. Diffuse lavender essential oil in your bedroom an hour before bedtime. Placing a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow can help relax your mind and body. Researchers report that scents like lavender and vanilla are the most effective aromas for sleep. Consider the following scents: Lemon – for cleansing and disinfecting; Mint – for refreshing; Cinnamon – for stimulating; Lavender, Vanilla & Jasmine – for relaxation; Rose – creation of a romantic space; Eucalyptus – for improving respiratory concerns; Citrus (lemon, orange, mandarin) – for improving moods and fighting depression.
Studies show excess light in the bedroom can affect your sleep quality by disrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Studies show excess light in the bedroom can affect your sleep quality by disrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Remove illuminated digital clocks from your bedroom. Focusing on the time can result in anxiety and stress which disturbs restful sleep. As indicated previously, turn off and unplug computers, tablets, night lights, etc. at least two hours before bedtime. The more artificial light you can remove from your bedroom, the better rest you’ll get.
Your body temperature naturally drops as you drift into sleep, so cooling down your bedroom can jump start the process and make it easier to doze off. Most experts advise setting your thermostat at least 5 to 10 degrees lower than your average daytime temperature. A National Institutes of Health study suggests that sleeping in a colder room can also have some calorie-burning health benefits.
Bedroom surroundings should be quiet and calm. There should not be any disturbance from outside noise. If you live in a city with lots of nighttime noise, consider using a white noise machine or fan to block outside noise. If the noise is too loud, use double-pane windows or heavy curtains to block the sound.
Get rid of anything stimulating that distracts from the room’s main purposes: sleep and sex. That means no treadmill, no television or computer, and no reminders of anything stressful such as a desk full of bills. Adding personal mementos, calming color schemes, and soothing sights and sounds such as a small water fountain can help to make your bedroom relaxing and calm.
Eliminate VOC paint
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are unstable, carbon-containing compounds that easily vaporize into the air. When they enter the air, they react with other elements to produce ozone, which causes air pollution and a host of health issues which may include respiratory concerns, headaches, burning, watery eyes and even nausea. Many people are actually allergic to the paint in their bedroom and have no idea it’s the paint causing the allergies. If possible, repaint your room with VOC-free paint.
An unmade bed is a very noticeable form of clutter which often reflects the difficulties and disorganization in one’s life!
Make your bed every day
Yes, you read that correctly — make your bed every day. An unmade bed is a very noticeable form of clutter which often reflects the difficulties and disorganization in one’s life. Making your bed also provides closure to the act of sleeping and lets you transition to the rest of your day. Don’t believe this? A 2011 survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that bed-makers were 19% more likely to report getting a good night’s sleep. There’s just something about climbing into a bed that has been previously made – it’s like opening a beautifully wrapped gift.
Wash sheets and blankets weekly
If you don’t already, it’s time to make it a priority. When you keep your bedding clean, you are fighting germs, bed bugs, allergens, and prolonging the life of your sheets and blankets. Wash them in hot, soapy water and dry completely in your dryer using a medium or low setting. Consider cleaning your comforter or bedspread in a commercial washer and dryer. Wash your comforter or bedspread in cold water and dry it on low heat. Or, hang it on a clothesline and let it air dry. It’s also imperative to wash your pillows and curtains at least twice a year. Pillows harbor mold, fungus, yeast and bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, asthma, bronchitis, and other health issues. Curtains harbor dust and sometimes mold. If you have never washed your pillow, consider throwing it away and getting a new one. For more information on the dangers of fungus see The Relationship of Fungus to Sinus Infections.
References & Research
P. Strøm‐Tejsen, D. Zukowska, P. Wargocki, D. P. Wyon. The effects of bedroom air quality on sleep and next‐day performance. 09 October 2015. https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12254.