How To Ensure Your Bedroom Is Primed For Good Sleep

Once you become an adult without an imposed bedtime or restrictions on your evening activities — like the amount of television permitted before bed during your childhood — it's definitely tempting to overindulge in the freedom of an adult lifestyle. Technically, you can stay up as late as you desire, set up a television or gaming console in your bedroom, and finally paint your walls that neon lime green shade your parents denied when you were in middle school. Though these are all fun prospects, they aren't the healthiest habits for obtaining quality sleep, which seems increasingly difficult to achieve as we age.

But good sleep hygiene will improve your chances of quality sleep. Baptist Health Kentucky reveals that people with consistent bedtime routines inclusive of good sleep hygiene practices are more likely to feel rejuvenated each morning, maintain good energy levels throughout the day, have improved mental clarity and emotional regulation, and experience less stress. (And let's face it — being happier, feeling refreshed, performing better, and eliminating stress all likely outrank having those neon walls!)

One factor that isn't as widely mentioned when discussing sleep hygiene and sleep care is the set of habits that can prime your bedroom for optimal sleep — including intentionally designing a space to prioritize sleep quality. You can always practice good sleep hygiene principles like avoiding caffeine and exercise in the late evenings, but if your bedroom itself isn't fit for proper sleep, then you may be defeating your sleep quality before even climbing into bed.

Put your phone to sleep outside of your bedroom

Say you've just finished meditating and feel calm while heading to bed — but then you look at your phone. Suddenly, all of the soothing mediation benefits seem to vanish as your brain sparks with energy. Electronics are adversaries of sleep-positive habits, as just a peek at a screen can re-stimulate brain activity, ignite racing thoughts, and rapidly unravel any sleep-oriented rituals you conducted before the moment of blue light exposure, per Harvard Medical School.

Getting electronics and other blue lights out of your bedroom is step one in designing your sleep-positive space. Remove bright lights, blue light-emitting electronics, and LED sources to prevent sleep-hampering light exposure, which risks disrupting the body's circadian rhythms. 

If you find it hard to set down your phone or laptop, Fabulous suggests establishing a set place outside of your bedroom near an outlet so all your devices can recharge overnight while you recharge in your screen-free bedroom. Choose a dedicated daily time — preferably one you can easily maintain — for tucking electronics into their metaphorical bed, and commit to not touching them until the morning. Having an accountability buddy send you reminders to go screen-free at your dedicated time can help reinforce the ritual, particularly when beginning to build your screen-free bedroom. While you're working to build your new habit, a juicy book or fun comic waiting on your bedside table can also serve as a reward to read shortly after saying goodnight to your screens.

Pick pajamas with comfortable fabrics and fits

Comfort is key when trying to get to sleep, and while eliminating blue light will help you relax at night, so will going to bed in your coziest sleepwear. Being highly selective and conscious of fit when buying pajamas can guarantee that you're primed for the best sleep experience. Tight clothing like leggings can lead to uncomfortable overnight sweating, while loose-fitting and free-flowing garments are perfect picks for pajamas given their inclination toward breathability, shares Bed Threads. Airy cotton fabrics, linens, and satins all make for extra comfortable fabric choices!

Fashion Gone Rogue also emphasizes daily wear of loose, airy pajamas for the benefits they provide, with breathable linen boxer shorts even coming into vogue for wearability in public. At home, pajamas can help you wind down from your day spent in more fitted attire, lessen uncomfortable sensory input and emotional intensity when feeling overwhelmed, and maintain hygiene while you sleep — particularly if you prioritize loose-fitting items made of linen, a fabric with antimicrobial properties.

Even when you're exhausted at the end of a long day, don't just collapse onto your bed and fall asleep in the clothes you've been wearing for hours. As infectious disease expert Dr. Nikhil Bhayani explained to Livestrong, your clothes pick up germs throughout the day, and you don't want to risk getting sick from stewing in them all night. A comfortable, dedicated set of PJs can help you get the clean, restful sleep you desire.

Set the temperature for optimally cool sleep

The comfort of your sleeping space extends beyond your bed to areas you may not intuitively consider — like the thermostat and the benefit of setting it to approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit, as Sleep Foundation advises. While this may be a little cooler than you'd normally find comfortable, your body pushes heat away from itself when your blood pressure decreases at night (per WebMD), hence why you might sweat while asleep. The human body also actually decreases its body temperature to naturally achieve better sleep, a process that begins around two hours prior to your usual bedtime. That's the perfect time to turn your thermostat down so your bedroom is nice and cool when you tuck beneath the covers.

But adjusting your thermostat to a cooler setting at night isn't the complete process for ultimate sleep temperature compatibility — your bedding is also an important factor. Sheets, blankets, and possibly a heavier comforter should be made of breathable fabrics that can help wick moisture and sweat from your body overnight. Apartment Therapy reveals that investing in quality linen sheets can decrease insomnia, anxiety, and stress, leading to more refreshed mornings. Working with the body's tendency to expel heat while asleep, linen sheets can help keep your bed and body hygienic overnight, reinforced by linen's antimicrobial components. (Of course, to avoid unwanted dust mites, bacteria, and dirt in your bed, you should still change your bedding every week or two, per Cleveland Clinic.)

Reduce sensory pollution and clutter

You won't get much rest if your senses are still on high alert in your bedroom, so optimize your sleep space by making it conducive to the relaxation of all sensory experiences. Noise pollution is paramount to reduce, particularly if there are extraneous noises invading your bedroom overnight. You've likely heard of white noise machines, but brown noise and pink noise are also helpful for improving sleep quality — as are DIY soundproofing hacks, like placing towels or weather strips along the cracks beneath doors to block the intensity of external sound waves. If you need an alarm, consider purchasing an analog alarm clock to avoid using light-emitting electronic devices, guaranteeing your bedroom can remain screen-free.

Even without screens, it's still important to eliminate other visual stressors around your bed. Clear clutter, minimize wall decor, and keep surfaces as clean as possible to help you relax at night, fall asleep faster, and wake up with a mindset free from stress, says Sleep Foundation. Choose color schemes for your bedroom that focus on visual noise reduction and favor warm, comforting palettes or subdued shades that exude a calming atmosphere. Reduce light pollution by replacing bright bulbs with warmer options, or utilize alternative non-sleep-disrupting red light, recommends Harvard Medical School. Entering your sleep space should be a soothing sensory experience each evening, so do your best to eliminate anything that doesn't fit your optimal tranquil vibes.

Have a bedroom-only habit you look forward to

To ease the transition between day and night, it's beneficial to have something you look forward to when heading to bed. Maybe it's a ritual like journaling, writing in an affirmation or gratitude notebook, or reading a few pages of a book you reserve exclusively for bedtime. Silk and Sonder notes the benefits of journaling right before you go to sleep each night, which include being able to document daily memories, release stressful or emotionally difficult thoughts out of your head, and engage with a screen-free activity that complements both your sleep hygiene and your overall well-being. Even simply writing a to-do list can help you fall asleep faster, wake up in a better mood clear on your daily intentions, and prep you for successfully completing tomorrow's tasks (via the Sleep Foundation).

If journaling isn't your thing, another soothing habit can take its place — it can be something as simple as indulging in nighttime skincare and changing into your coziest pajamas. According to Brain Fodder, our brains create connections between clothes, emotions, and overall wellness states through a psychological process called "enclothed cognition." So, if you set aside your most comfortable, breathable pajamas exclusively for wearing in bed (while donning loungewear elsewhere at home), the cognitive connections you've created will not only signal to you that it's time to wind down but may also have you launching into bed so you can indulge in your most luxurious sleepwear. Time to snooze!