Many people have difficulty falling asleep at night. In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an insufficient amount of sleep is a public health epidemic.1

Why is it so many people have trouble sleeping? While there may be many contributing factors, part of the problem may be the bedroom. A bedroom should be a safe haven, a place where you can get a good night's sleep. If you are having difficulty getting some good shuteye, with some modifications, you bedroom can easily be redesigned to make it ideal for sleep.

A Clean Room

For starters, if your room is messy or just cluttered, give it a good cleaning. According to a survey commissioned by the National Sleep Foundation, results showed when people slept in a clean and comfortable room, they got a better night's sleep.

“We’ve looked a lot at how medical and behavioral issues affect sleep, but we really hadn’t looked at the sleep environment in such depth,” NSF Chief Operating Officer David Cloud told WebMD. “Frankly, we were surprised to see that senses like touch, feel, and smell were so important.” 3

This is an easy fix; remove anything out of the bedroom that doesn't belong and get into the habit of straightening up the room each morning, even making the bed daily can make a difference, based on the study's findings. According to the NSF study, participants said they slept longer hours and felt better about going to sleep if they had a tidy bed and fresh sheets.

Credit: Leigh Goessl

Soothing Color Scheme

Like to redecorate, but need an excuse? How about doing it to improve sleep habits? A soothing color scheme may make a room's appearance more inviting and conducive to sleep. A new coat of paint with some matching curtains and bedding can make a nice difference in how you perceive your bedroom.

Consider hanging some "calming" artwork in your room, something you find really appealing that will be one of the last items you see before you turn off the lamp. Consequently, if you have too much clutter on your walls, you might want to consider removing some of it. I tried this approach - I painted the walls a soothing light green and gave the room some light purple highlights. It feels much more serene. 

Comfortable Bed

If you're having difficulty sleeping, it may be time for a new bed. Over time, mattresses can get worn out and lumpy, leading to disruption in sleep, particularly if there are some broken springs in the mattress. A bed replacement may be in order if you find your nights are spent tossing and turning.

Be sure you have pillows and sheets that are equally as comfortable. When shopping for a new mattress, don't be shy in trying them out. Mattresses have different cover styles, springs and other components. Most bed shops will insist you lay down and "try out" a variety of mattresses before you buy one. It also helps to do some online research before you go shopping.

Twin sprung mattress springs
Credit: Tim Deegan/Creative Commons - Attribution/Share Alike

"This is an example of how some manufacturers use two layers of pocket springs in a mattress. The only reason for doing this is to increase the spring count in order to charge more. You can see from the picture that the springs are much smaller than the usual 5" or 6", and are actually quite unstable. So contrary to what many sales staff may tell you, there is no benefit from this type of spring arrangement." (Tim Deegan in Wikimedia Commons description of photo)


Another consideration is temperature, as the level of heat or cool in a room could be a contributing factor. If your bedroom gets too hot, be sure to remember to turn down the heat before you go to sleep. If you do not have control in your bedroom, consider cracking a window at night. If being cold is your problem, try switching to warmer pajamas or add another blanket. 

Another potential solution is to install a programmable thermostat if you don't have one. This way you can adjust the temperature according to the time of day for better comfort. Experts say programmable thermostats are more energy efficient, so there are multiple potential benefits in this investment.

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Install Darkened Shades

Consistency is key to getting a good night's rest and, if you're having difficulty, trying to set a schedule can help. Darkened shades can help set the mood for night time; this way, any exterior lights or other distractions will be less noticeable. Shades that do not darken the room may trick your body into thinking it is daytime; especially in the wee hours of the morning in the warmer months when the sun rises very early. Or it may keep you up later at night with a later sunset.

Ditch the Electronics

In order to aid in getting a good night's rest, remove the TV, DVD player, smart phone, tablet, video games or any other distracting items.  A bedroom should be a "sanctuary for sleep," reports WebMD. With electronics so prominently present, mainly electronics, this can keep an individual's mind racing as they try to fall asleep.

In today's virtually connected world, this can be difficult, but banning the electronics from the bedroom can make a big difference. Statistics suggest a whopping number of people sleep with their mobile phone.

Instagram and other Social Media AppsCredit: Image Credit: Jason A. Howie at Flickr/Creative Commons-Attribution

Calming Sounds/Scents

Can't sleep when it's too quiet or need to block out unwanted sounds in your neighborhood? Adding a quiet noisemaker, fan or a radio that you can use to play calming music can do wonders. Some also swear lavender, vanilla or other soothing types of scents can also help. Although, for others, strong scents may contribute to sleep difficulty (this would be me!), so go with what works for you.

There are a number of ways people unintentionally ruin their sleep, however, by setting the right setting and tone, sometimes sleeping disorders can easily be remedied and the quality of rest greatly improved. (No OTC or prescription sleep aids required!)