5 simple steps to a sleep-friendly bedroom

Get better sleep and make restful slumber come easily by following these five steps.

By Robin Heron

5 steps to a sleep-friendly bedroom
According to the Canadian Sleep Society, the average adult requires between six and nine hours of sleep per night, and the amount and quality of that sleep directly affects the level of health, memory and alertness we experience in our waking hours. But unless your bedroom is an inviting space where you can unwind away from daytime distractions, it can be difficult to get the rest you need when you need it.

Here are five easy ways to make your bedroom a sleep-friendly sanctuary.

1. Unplug
The first step in making your bedroom into a positive sleep environment is to say goodbye to the television, computer, cell phone and any other electronics that might be a distraction or reminder of stressful daytime activities. The bedroom should be a place associated with sleep and intimacy, says Dr. Michael Breus, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, and by creating a physical and psychological separation between work space and sleep space, your bedroom becomes a more relaxing, sleep-focused environment.

2. De-clutter
In the same vein as above, by getting rid of clutter like stacks of magazines, books, paperwork, and knick-knacks you can create an oasis of calm in your bedroom so that when you settle in for the night there is nothing to sidetrack you from drifting off. Also, organize closets and remove all unfinished to-do projects from the room to keep daytime distractions to a minimum.

3. Lights out
Nothing is worse than trying to unwind with bulbs blazing overhead, so work on creating some ambient lighting in your bedroom. You can do this by choosing warm, low-wattage bulbs or outfitting lighting with a dimmer switch so you can set the stage for sleep. Then tackle the light pollution that's seeping in through windows from street lamps and sunshine by hanging a set of heavy curtains or blackout shades. Remember to turn off distracting hall lights and move your digital alarm clock to face away from the bed.

4. Sound off
Noise distractions big and small can keep even the most exhausted among us from our much-needed sleep, so for starters, a set of heavy curtains may help eliminate sounds from traffic and other outdoor distractions.

You can move a ticking alarm clock away from the bedside table and keep your bedroom door closed to muffle activity from the rest of the household. Also, consider investing in a white-noise maker, which can be particularly effective when dealing with a snoring partner or for shift-workers who sleep during the day.

5. Get comfy
Studies say on average we will spend one third of our lives sleeping, so it makes sense to create a space that is as welcoming and as personalized as possible. You can start by choosing a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillows, and bedding that has a pleasant texture and is seasonally appropriate. To create a calm atmosphere, consider painting your walls soothing colours such as soft blues, tans, yellows or greens, and introduce some sleep-friendly scents like jasmine and vanilla with linen sprays, sachets and scented candles. Also, be sure to keep your room at a cool but pleasant temperature that remains constant throughout the night.

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