Getting enough quality sleep each night is one of the most important habits for maximizing your health, well-being, and performance. Poor sleep makes you more irritable, more lethargic, and less productive. If that isn’t bad enough, sleep deprivation is also linked to obesity and virtually every other chronic disease or condition.
The good news is that you have more control over your sleep than you might realize. Earlier in my life, I struggled to fall asleep nearly every night. At the time, I thought that I was just a poor sleeper. In reality, my problems were largely linked to the way that my bedroom was setup (in addition to the insomnia-causing habits discussed here).
The layout of my prior bedroom was a recipe for insomnia. A more intentional bedroom setup has significantly improved my sleep quality, and it can help you too. In this article, you’ll learn four simple steps to turn your bedroom into the ultimate sleep sanctuary, so that you can feel and perform your best.
Step #1: Remove unnecessary items (and light) from your bedroom.
As French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, once said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” The first step to creating a better sleep environment is to remove anything from your bedroom that is not absolutely necessary.
Look around your bedroom and ask yourself how many of the items in the room truly need to be in there. If you are like most people (including my former self), you probably have a number of non-essential things that make your bedroom more crowded and less relaxing. Why have anything in your bedroom other than a bed, a nightstand with a lamp, and maybe a comfortable chair for light reading before bed?
A bedroom full of clutter, work-related materials, or electronics is not relaxing or conducive to quality sleep. If you think you need the sound from a TV to fall asleep, you can swap that routine and turn on a fan or a white noise machine for a more peaceful, light-free source of ambient noise.
National Sleep Foundation also recommends a dark room for sleep. 1 Blackout curtains are an excellent investment that can keep outside light out of your room and help you sleep better.
Step 2: Invest in a quality mattress and pillows.
You spend about 30% of your life in bed. A quality mattress and pillows are some of the best investments that you can make. According to National Sleep Foundation, most mattresses should be replaced every eight years or so, and pillows should be replaced every couple of years. 2 Whatever sleeping position you prefer, your mattress and pillows should support your spine and help you maintain good posture from head to toe. If your bed sags or you wake up feeling stiff or tired, that could be a sign that it is time for a new bed or pillows.
Step 3: Optimize your bedroom temperature.
National Sleep Foundation recommends a bedroom temperature between sixty and sixty-seven degrees. 3 You will likely need to sleep under a warm blanket in a room that is this cold. Experiment and determine what works for you.
Step 4: Place your alarm clock carefully.
If you use an alarm clock, you could keep it at least ten feet from your bed, so you have to get up to turn it off in the morning. Whether you keep it on the floor or on top of another surface, face it away from you or under something, so that the light and time are not visible. Otherwise, the light from the clock can keep you awake, seeing the time can be stressful if you are struggling to fall asleep, and it can be too easy to snooze in the morning if you only have to roll over to do so.
A better sleep environment leads to better sleep, and better sleep helps you feel and perform your best. Follow these four steps to turn your bedroom into the ultimate sleep sanctuary:
- Remove unnecessary items (and light) from your bedroom.
- Invest in a quality mattress and pillows.
- Optimize your bedroom temperature.
- Place your alarm clock carefully.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the creator of StrongerHabits.com and he’s the author of Work Stronger; Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work. Earlier in his career, Pete worked as an executive recruiter for Heidrick & Struggles, a leadership advisory firm who serves the majority of the Fortune 500. In his free time, he teaches one of the largest group exercise classes in the Washington, D.C. area, and he has competed in the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Championships.
References for this article:
- “See,” National Sleep Foundation, accessed on August 15, 2017, https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/see.php.
- “Touch,” National Sleep Foundation, National Sleep Foundation, accessed on August 15, 2017, https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/touch.php.
- “The Ideal Temperature for Sleep,” National Sleep Foundation, accessed on August 15, 2017, https://sleep.org/articles/temperature-for-sleep/.