Many entrepreneurs pine for better sleep, but few think to blame their bedroom for being the source of their exhaustion. In reality, the quality of a person’s sleep environment can have huge ramifications for their ability to fall and stay asleep.
The good news? Improved shuteye may be a few simple bedroom hacks away. Make the following changes to your bedroom, and you’re all but guaranteed to start reaping the rewards of better sleep.
1. Designate the bed a ‘sleep only’ zone.
Thanks to the ubiquity of handheld electronics, many of us have made a habit of taking email, texts, social media, and Netflix binges into bed with us. But the hard truth is that doing anything other than sleeping or having sex in bed—even something as wholesome as reading a book—can cause our brains to associate the bed with activity instead of rest. Rethink the bed as a space for sleeping by banishing all other activities to outside of the bedroom.
2. Straighten up.
Cluttered bedrooms can cause distractions and make it harder to relax. (They also up your risk of falling over a pile of laundry when you get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night).
Make a point of keeping the bedroom neat and organized by scheduling a few minutes of cleaning at the same time every day. And limit furniture and other items only to the essentials—if it an item doesn’t promote restfulness, then get it out of the bedroom.
3. Change up the lighting.
Studies consistently find that exposure to electrical lights in the hours leading up to bed can suppress levels of melatonin (a hormone essential for sleep), which can make it harder to catch some Zzz’s. Not only that, but people tend to sleep better in darkened rooms.
Improve your sleep quality by dimming the lights several hours before hitting the sheets and using so-called “soft” or “warm” light bulbs, which are less harsh than standard options. It can also be helpful to hang blackout curtains so that street lighting doesn’t disrupt your sleep. And since keeping the curtains closed is a helpful home security practice, you’ll sleep even more soundly knowing that passersby can’t see into your windows.
4. Invest in a quality mattress and bedding.
Choosing the right mattress can transform your sleep quality and help you wake up feeling good. When shopping for a new mattress, your main priority should
be personal comfort. Consider your typical sleeping style—side, back, stomach?—and choose a mattress accordingly.
Side sleepers should look for a thick comfort layer to absorb spinal pressure; back sleepers should be happy with a thinner comfort layer (aim for one that’s around two inches thick); and stomach sleepers should look for even thinner comfort layers and firm mattresses. While you’re at it, invest in comfortable pillows and bedding—and remember to clean your sheets on a regular basis so the bed remains an inviting space.
5. Apply a fresh coat of paint.
If your bedroom walls are painted in bold colors or busy patterns, consider converting to a more restful color palette. Soft blues, grays, sages, and ivories are solid choices. If you need something a little more interesting, consider adding a basic stripe or ombré. Save the bolder design choices for other parts of the home.
6. Keep a notebook on your nightstand.
This may sound odd, but keeping a journal or notebook handy can be a great tool for getting better sleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning after climbing into bed or waking up in the middle of the night riddled with anxiety, grab the notebook and jot down whatever is worrying you. Knowing that you’ve expressed your concerns and won’t forget about critical parts of your to-do list the next morning can help your brain relax.
Modern science tells us that anyone who’s struggling to sleep better has a lot more tools at their disposal than simply counting sheep. By making strategic adjustments to your bedroom environment, you’ll be on your way to more consistent, better quality, and more restful shuteye. Happy snoozing.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Kenny Kline is the owner of JAKK Solutions, a NYC-based SEO company. He is a digital marketing expert, MBA, and serial entrepreneurial. When not in front of his computer, he can be found beekeeping, knitting, and being as Brooklyn as humanly possible. Connect with @thisbekenny on Twitter.