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March - Sleep (part 2)

March 1st, 2023 Guest Posts

Teddy on bed

Bedroom Vibes by @suek

Last month we talked about what we put in our bodies and minds in the run-up to bed time, and how that can affect the quality of our sleep. Next up is the state of our sleeping environment: bedroom, bed, sheets and pillows, and the like. These all have a big impact on the quality of our sleep.

I love watching decluttering and minimalist lifestyle videos. I love the calm vibe of the uncluttered spaces. I like the idea of knowing where my stuff is, not wasting time scrounging around to find things, not wasting money buying things I donˋt need, and being relatively organised. What, you may ask, does this have to do with sleep? Pretty much everything. Calmness matters most in the bedroom. If you can only manage to get organized in one area of your home, start with where you sleep, and find out first hand how much better you sleep in a calm and restful environment.

When it comes to the bedroom, I like to think BABY. How would you set up a room for a baby to sleep? Would it be cosy, quiet, soft and soothing? Would it have soft, neutral-coloured fabrics? Low light? A favourite blankie? (Would it have a phone bleeping and flashing on the bedstand, a TV or radio blaring?)

We can create an environment like this for ourselves. Here are some ideas for making it happen.

Clutter

Get rid of clutter and junk in your bedroom. If you need help with this, YouTube is awash with decluttering videos. Find a declutterer you like and get inspired!

If your bedroom doubles as an office or sewing room or some other use, can you keep that activity from taking over the room? If you keep a desk or craft table tidy and ordered, that will help create a calmer environment. If you canˋt, how about finding a clean sheet that you throw over your glorious mess at the end of the day, just to tone down the visual noise?

In my not-so-humble opinion, a TV in the bedroom is a huge NO. But what if you share your bedroom with someone who must watch TV in bed? There are two very simple fixes for this nightmare. A pair of headphones for them. An eye-mask for you.

TV headphones are a game-changer. When you live somewhere with a TV in a room where you would prefer some peace and quiet, plugging the TV watcher into a headset completely changes the room ambience. You can listen to the silence or your own calming soundtrack. Why not make it a bedroom protocol — anyone listening to anything on a device uses headphones.

Clothes

Bedrooms tend to become clothes dumping grounds. Part of a calming pre-bed routine can be taking off your day clothes, putting laundry in the laundry hamper (IMO every bedroom should have a nice-looking laundy hamper in a corner or in the closet), and putting the re-wearables away. Including shoes.

The way I tricked myself into doing this routine was to buy myself really delicious pyjamas, robe and slippers. You can make getting ready for bed as lovely as getting ready to go out on a special date. Take off your day clothes and put them away, shower if you like, and step into your lovely sleeping outfit. Feel the slippers soft on your feet. Enjoy the silky pyjamas draping over your skin. Feel the robe cuddling around you. Take a little prance around the house, wink at yourself in the mirror. Make yourself a sleepytime tea in a special cup. OK, be like me and pretend youˋre a star in your own self-care movie. The point is, make bed time a special time. Signal to yourself and to the upcoming sleep that youˋre totally into it!

Bedding

I think of bed as a nest. I highly recommend using some of that money you’re saving by not drinking, and buying some good quality sheets, a pillow that works for you, a bottle of lavendar water to spray on that special pillow. A low-light bedside lamp. A tube of hand cream and a lip moisturizer right beside the bed, for a last minute pamper. Youˋll think of other things that will work for you.

If you’re like me, and have trouble remembering to put your sheets in the laundry, put a reminder in your calendar to do that, so you get that fresh-sheet joy regularly.

What about your matress? Even if you’re not up for buying a new mattress, a new mattress topper can up the luxury factor and make you feel a lot more cosy in bed. 

Dark

I know I sleep way better in a really dark room. This isnˋt always easy to acheive, especially in a city, but it is possible.
You might need to put up blackout blinds, or thick curtains that close properly and keep the room dark and quiet. If that’s not possible, think about using an eye mask — a really soft one.

I also recommend switching overhead lighting to bedside lamps. It really helps create a calming ambience. And if you share the bed with a reader, they can keep their light on their own side of the bed.

A nightlight, plugged in close to floor level, is a really good way to navigate bathroom runs in the night without having to switch on overhead lights and shock your body awake.

Quiet

It’s hard to sleep through a racket. When I moved to Mexico I was shocked at how noisy our neighourhood is. It’s unbelievable. We have an ongoing soundtrack of vehicles rumbling on the cobblestones, children playing on the street till late, donkeys braying, street vendors calling out, dogs barking and howling, roosters crowing, church bells ringing… and that’s just a normal day. Yikes.

All this neighbourhood noise led to me discovering white noise. There are all manner of white noise soundtracks on YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud etc. I now run a 10-hour rainstorm soundtrack on a small bluetooth speaker while I sleep. It doesn’t block out all the neighbourhood sounds, but it lets my hearing sense tune in to something pleasant and soothing, so it doesn’t latch on to the disturbances outside. It has been amazing how well this has worked to give me back a full night’s sleep. I’m so grateful for that. (Full disclosure: my phone is now beside the bed and on all night. But the lights and ringers are off. And I do not check it if I wake up. So all good, I think!)

I hope you can use some of these ideas to upgrade your sleeping environment, and help you sleep like a baby. Please share your own insights and successes (or challenges) in the comments.

Sweet dreams,
Sue @suek

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