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10 Of Our All-Time Favorite Ways To Make Your Bedroom Better For Sleep

Image by Daniel Kim Photography / Stocksy
September 27, 2019
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A whole host of things could be standing between you and the seven to nine hours a night that doctors recommend clocking in bed: Stress and anxiety, out-of-whack hormones, and a poor diet being a few common culprits. Your sleep environment is another huge one, and, unlike the others, it's well within your control.

Sleep is a topic you'll see covered quite a bit here at mindbodygreen because quality rest really is essential to well-being. We scoured our extensive library to compile the 10 best tips we've ever seen for creating a bedroom that instantly relaxes the mind and body. If you've cleaned up your sleep hygiene and tackled the root cause of your unrest and still have trouble winding down, it's time to give them a try.

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1. Invest in a better mattress, sheet set, and pillow.

Good sleep starts with a good bed—more specifically, a good mattress. Look for one that's made out of natural latex, a material that won't release VOCs after continued use and is super comfortable and temperature-regulating. These four come highly recommended from experts at Consumer Reports and the Environmental Working Group:

Don't want to pay for a new mattress right now? Sheets can make a big difference too. If you're sleeping on something night after night, you want it to be free of harsh chemicals and pesticides, so organic is the way to go. (The Oeko-Tex Standard and Global Organic Textile Standard, GOTS, are two trustworthy labels to look out for.) Here are a few that fit the bill:

And finally, the pillow! Again, you'll want one that is certified organic latex or cotton. Side sleepers would benefit from a more thick and supportive option like this new one from Coyuchi, which has indentations designed for spinal alignment, while back sleepers might want to look for one on the thinner side, like this pricey but customizable one from Coco-Mat.

2. Add in these scents.

Smelling essential oils is one holistic remedy that actually has a fair amount of science backing it up: Scents of neroli, lavender1, and Roman chamomile2 have all been shown to promote relaxation in research trials. Oregon-based Mountain Rose Herbs sells high-quality organic oils while Sijo and Saje are known for their bespoke blends designed for sleep. Find a scent that you like, place a few drops into a diffuser filled with water, and let it envelop your space a few hours before bed. According to Brown University, 9 p.m. is the optimal time to start sniffing, since that's when we're most sensitive to smell.

3. Keep your phone OUT.

From psychologists to feng shui designers, well-being leaders of all sorts can agree that it's essential to make your bedroom a phone-free zone. Beyond emitting blue light that can mess with your internal clock, our phones are little windows into big distractions that can keep the mind racing. Anyone who's ever read and important email or gotten lost in a social media scroll sesh right before bed probably knows the feeling. There's now research to back up the idea that technology does indeed disrupt sleep quality, especially in young people3. Leave your phone charging in another room, buy an alarm clock that has a zero percent likelihood of spiking your cortisol levels, and wind down with a good book instead.

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4. Let there be (yellow) light.

Once it's time for shut-eye, you want your bedroom to be as dark as humanly possible. Invest in a pair of blackout blinds or opt for a light-blocking eye mask. When it comes to lighting your bedtime reading, go with a bulb that has a warm yellow hue or light a candle instead. Might we suggest these fun astrology-inspired Birthdate Candles (literally—there's a different scent crafted for every birthday) or these clean-burning options?

5. Clean up the area under your bed.

As an adult, the monster under your bed might as well be that pile of out-of-season items shoved down there. According to feng shui philosophy, keeping things under your bed can block the energy flow in the room and, therefore, disrupt sleep. Make the area under your bed it a clutter-free zone if you can. If not, at least make sure everything is soft, clean, and inviting. So keep the fresh towels and sheets, but maybe lose the snowboard you never use.

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6. Declutter everything (but especially the bookshelf).

And don't stop with the bed! According to professional organizer Tracy McCubbin, if there's one room in your home that you should be decluttering, it's the bedroom. "Your clutter is a constant to-do list—take care of this; put away that... It's been linked to elevated cortisol and stress levels, so it's definitely not something you want in the place where you're trying to calm down and sleep at the end of the day," she told mbg. Keep distractions to a minimum in the space—that includes things like plants, books, and even artwork.

7. Ask what your artwork is telling you.

That brings us to the next tip: Be super intentional about the art in your bedroom, especially the things hanging right across from your bed. These are likely the last images you see before falling asleep and the first ones you see when you wake up, so why not make sure they're sending the right messages? "There's nothing inherently wrong if you don't have anything inspiring there, but it could be helpful to put something that can help shift your energy or remind you of something you're working toward," says Elana Kilkenny, an intuitive counselor and interior designer.

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8. Quiet it down.

Surprise, surprise: Annoying noises can indeed4 mess with sleep. Instead of resigning to them forever, see if you can find a white noise machine that works for you. Holistic psychiatrist and sleep expert Ellen Vora, M.D., swears by this portable one.

9. Keep things cold.

Vora also recommends keeping your bedroom on the chilly side, between 65 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temps promote deeper sleep because our body temperature naturally wants to lower at night as we're preparing for sleep.

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10. Last but not least, know yourself.

At the end of the day, everyone is different, and what one person finds relaxing, another could find totally distracting and stimulating. So when you're putting together your ideal bedroom, don't feel like you need to subscribe to any one rule just because it's a rule. Instead, Kilkenny recommends tuning into yourself—your real desires and impulses—before doing anything else. "One of the ways to think about it is, what are the spaces you generally relax in? What are they like?" she says. From there, you can craft the bedroom of your dreams, not someone else's.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.