Illustration by Kagan Mcleod
You sleep well at a hotel not just because you’re away from the worries of home, but because of the blackout curtains. Blocking out the sun’s rays is key to good sleep because light sends signals that tell the brain to wake up, explains Ralph Downey III, PhD, of the Sleep Lab at Cleveland Clinic. And it’s easy to bring this trick home: “Get a blackout roller shade, with drapes as a decorative touch,” says Kristen Peña, interior designer and owner of K Interiors. You can find options at The Shade Store, Graber, or Restoration Hardware.
You want to keep chores and work out of sight of your bed. You also want world peace and a million dollars. Well, at least the first can be helped by storage bins. Clutter or necessary items can be tucked away when not in use, Peña says.
When you get all warm and cozy in bed, go light on the warm—getting too hot can mess with your zzz’s. The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67, although “seasonal variations and partner preferences can make it a challenge,” says Chris Winter, MD, neurologist and author of The Sleep Solution. As for bedding, look for breathable fabrics, which will distribute heat evenly and wick away moisture. Winter recommends Deepsport Cooling Bed Sheets (deepsport.com, from $199) and the ChiliPad Cube (chilitechnology.com, $499), a personal-sized mattress pad to keep you chill. Two-zone pads that keep Mama Bear cool and Papa Bear warm (or vice versa) start at $999.
Turn down the lights.
LED lightbulbs are good for the environment. But they sure can throw your sleep cycle out of whack because the blue tones emitted by the light inhibit your body’s production of (sleepy-time) melatonin, Winter says. If you install dimmers on your lights, you can lower them as the evening progresses to signal to your brain that it’s almost time for sleep. You can also look for Soraa Healthy lightbulbs, which remove the blue light, or GE’s C-Sleep bulbs, which have three settings—vibrant, active and calm—that adjust to your needs throughout the day.
Kick the TV out of the bedroom.
Illustration by Kagan Mcleod
Yes, the light from the TV can keep you up, but it’s more likely the noise—and changes in frequency and pitch—that can wake you up once you do doze off. If you are one of the many, many people who think the TV helps them fall asleep, just set the timer so it clicks off not long after you do. The Samsung Frame TV (samsung.com, $1,200) offers a cool feature: When it’s off it looks like a framed piece of art, so it blends with your decor. And while the blue light emitted by tablets and phones can keep you awake, we do like the calming very low dose of blue light emitted by the Dodow sleep-aid device (mydodow.com, $59). It beams a pattern onto the ceiling that you focus on and sync your breathing to, which helps relax you into sleep in as little as eight minutes.
Get the layered look on your bed.
Imagine if you sat down to dinner at a table that still had all the dirty breakfast and lunch dishes on it. Of course it wouldn’t be a relaxing meal. The same goes for crawling into an unmade bed. “Getting into a bed that’s made is not only more inviting, it’s also downright calming,” says Terry Cralle, author of Sleeping Your Way to the Top. When shopping for bedding, Peña says different layers and textures will up the cozy factor without feeling fussy. She suggests upgrading to sheets made from natural fibers, like linen or cotton, then finishing with down pillows, a duvet and a throw blanket. The extra blanket is great to have for additional warmth when you need it (and to kick off when you don’t). And if it doesn’t annoy you, avoid making the bed as soon as you get up, Cralle says. Letting the sheets air out will keep them dry and release odors.
Paint the walls.
A can of paint may contain the secret to a good night’s sleep. Colors that mimic nature—including blues, greens and grays—are calming and help you relax, Cralle says. Painting the ceiling the same color as the walls (or a slightly darker shade) may help improve sleep.