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Do you suffer from insomnia or disrupted sleep? Before you pop a sleeping pill, try giving your bedroom a makeover to help improve your chances of getting a good night's rest. Use these five tips to create a sanctuary where you'll sleep like a baby:
1. Clear out the clutter. "Get rid of the clutter in the entire room but specifically under the bed and in any areas that you will see when lying in bed, says DeAnna Radaj, owner of Bante Design. "Your bedroom is for rest and romance—that's it! If an item does not fit that criteria, place it in the room where it does fit." What are some things that don't belong in your bedroom? "Exercise equipment, computers, TVs, gaming areas, pictures of your in-laws, family, friends or kids (only photos of you and your sweetie) or items that represent romance, peace and calm."
2. Rearrange your bedroom. According to the principles of Feng Shui, even the way your furniture is arranged in your bedroom can affect the quality of your sleep. For example, seeing the door from your bed can help you relax, says Nicolette Vajtay, a certified Black-Sect Tantric Buddhist Feng Shui practitioner and owner of Inspired Living Feng Shui.
Do you have a desk in your bedroom? You may want to relocate it. "A desk in the bedroom can make you feel like you are working all the time." And while they may be sexy, mirrors in the bedroom can bounce too much energy, making it hard to unwind and rest at night, Vajtay says.
3. Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool. "Make your bedroom as dark as possible—think cave-like," says Dr. Catherine Darley, a naturopathic sleep specialist at The Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine in Seattle, Washington. "This includes light blocking shades, no LEDs on electronics, and no lit clock." You want to avoid looking at the clock at night anyway, Darley says. "When people look at the time, they tend to do the math of how much sleep they can get and get upset if it won't be enough sleep."
And be sure to keep your room cool—but not cold—studies show that the optimal temperature for quality sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Check your color scheme. Even the color of your walls or bedding can influence the quality of your sleep. Calm, relaxing shades may help you calm your nervous system and nod off easier. "Choose a cool color scheme: blue, purple, gray, silver, green, neutrals—cool colors lower blood pressure and heart rate to help ensure a proper night's sleep," Radaj says. And even if you just love bright reds or orange hues, leave them out of the bedroom. "Too much fire color in a bedroom can create anxiety and restless sleep," Vajtay says.
5. Pay attention to your other senses. While we typically focus on what we see in the bedroom, its also important to focus on what your other senses experience there as well, says Christine Lakas, an interior designer, producer, and set stylist for HGTV, DIY, and Fine Living Network, and owner of Premier Design. For instance, what do you hear in your bedroom? Ideally, the room should be quiet, but sound machines or relaxing music may help you nod off.
What about the smell of your bedroom? "Use diffusers, candles, or incense," Lakas says. Lavender is known as a soothing scent. Lakas recommends adding a drop of a lavender essential oil to the light bulb of your reading lamp to help you relax before bed. (Avoid lemon and peppermint scents—or use them only in the morning—as they waken the senses, Lakas says). And pay attention to what sensations you feel: "Deep relaxation is successful when your skin is in contact with softness, so choose fabrics that are cozy (silks and soft cottons in a high-thread count) and use an area rug if you have hardwood floors—it's warmer on your feet and reduces noise."
And don't forget to enhance the effectiveness of these tips by avoiding caffeine several hours before bedtime, finding ways to relieve stress, and snacking on a few of these deep-sleep promoting foods in the evening.