You’ve got your gym gear, a fridge full of healthy food, and even an ergonomic desk setup. But is your bedroom optimized for sleep?
We’re not talking billion-thread-count sheets or perfectly dimmed lighting, though those certainly wouldn’t hurt. Simple tweaks can go a long way toward helping you get more sleep—and making that sleep more rejuvenating. “It’s not just the amount of time you spend in bed that matters, but also the quality of your sleep,” says Holly Phillips, M.D., the author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough. Here’s her advice for making the most of your 40 winks.
Get an alarm clock.
Phillips believes in banishing tech, which emits blue light that messes with your circadian rhythm, from the bedroom. Her solution: An alarm clock (or multiples, if you’re worried you’ll turn it off and go back to sleep) that doesn’t light up. “I do set the alarm on my phone, but for 45 minutes later in case my alarm clocks fail,” says Phillips.
Cover your windows.
Blackout shades or liners are ideal, but even regular drapes will help block out light at night, which can hamper your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. “An eye mask is also a great option, especially for people who have trouble getting rid of all light sources in their room,” says Phillips.
Kick your pet out of bed.
A new study suggests that people slept worse with a dog in their bed but not necessarily in their bedroom. If Fido snoring at your feet doesn’t bother you, let sleeping dogs lie. But if sharing a bed with him is keeping you up at night, get him his own bed and find a spot for it somewhere in your room.
Clear the air.
“If you wake up with a sore throat or blocked sinuses, allergies or sensitivities to mold spores, dust mites, and other indoor allergens could be to blame, and improving your indoor air quality with an air purifier can help,” says Phillips. Dry air can also cause swollen, parched nasal passages and sore throats. Mitigate it with a humidifier.
Stay on track.
If you haven’t already, start using your Fitbit to automatically track your light, deep, and REM sleep. You can also use it to set sleep goals and turn on bedtime reminders to help you stick to them. Having trouble sleeping? Try troubleshooting by logging your workouts—which can help you sleep better—and your sugar and caffeine intake (too much of which may interfere with your sleep).
Check your thermostat.
“A room that’s too hot or cold can disrupt your sleep,” says Phillips. The optimal temp: between 60 and 67 degrees. According to the National Sleep Foundation, wearing socks to bed could also help you catch more ZZZs by causing your blood vessels to dilate, which helps prepare your body for sleep.
Make some noise.
Phillips uses a white-noise machine to block out honking and barking dogs, but you can also try a fan. Live in a very quiet place? A little noise might actually help. “If your sleep sanctuary is too silent, even the smallest natural sounds will be magnified and disruptive,” she says.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.