The Secret to Better Shut Eye
"...I can’t wait to get back home and crawl right into my bed."
Time after time, I find myself repeating those words. Waking up way-too-early in the morning, extensive work days and long weekends away with a less than ideal sleeping situation makes coming home to your own bed a very comforting feeling. It must, however, be something worth coming home to since you're hopefully spending 7+ hours there each and every night.
Personally, I have always struggled with falling asleep at night and it’s been an endless game of trying to create a sleeping situation that makes it easy and comfortable for getting a restful night’s sleep. With a shoebox sized one bedroom in Manhattan, it certainly is difficult. Two steps into my room and I’m already running into my bed. I enjoy the large window facing my bed because of the morning light that peeks in, but I battle trying to block out the bright lights at night that come from the neighbor’s apartment. City living is so silly, isn't it? But yes, at least I have a roof over my head. I understand that I have very little square footage to work with, but I know that I must do what I can with what I have. While external factors are out of my control (i.e. outside noise, summer heat, etc), there are several other things that I can control when it comes to creating an optimal slumber situation.
Not to mention that sleep deprivation is steadily on the rise, whether self-induced thanks to an addiction to technology (guilty) or something else that is beyond our control (hereditary, etc). By at least having a quiet, clean and serene bedroom to come home to, it helps tremendously by having an environment that lets us wind down and feel calm and relaxed. Reading through this recent article from Remodelista prompted me to revisit the topic of creating a space that helps us to get better shut eye, something that many of us (myself included) may have lost sight of.
Opt for neutral tones.
Soft, clean and neutral color palettes are best, especially when it comes to your walls since they make up the majority of your room. Think along the lines of pure white or grey tones. Busy wallpapers can induce feelings of stress and chaos while solid, soft hues help to promote a sense of relaxation. There’s a quieter visual impact when each color is more similar to the other. White walls? Go for a grey sheet set and perhaps pastel colored accent pillows and vice versa.
For pops or color, consider strategically placing or hanging a few pieces of art or décor objects throughout your room. Less distracting objects means more clean wall space, resulting in a room that feels much larger and less chaotic.
Keep it clean and neat.
You know what that means to you, so try your best to adhere to your own standards of how you categorize clean and neat vs. messy and unorganized. Make it a habit to make your bed every single morning - the first thing that you do when you get up. It's a quick mood booster to come home to and it makes it a much more inviting setting for crawling right into.
Note to self: Folded piles of clothes at the foot of my bed are better than coming home to clothes thrown all over the floor when I couldn't decide what outfit to wear that day. Still working on that one.
Find the right base & build from there with cozy bed linens.
Sheets, pillows, down comforters and everything in between. Start with your base by investing in a quality mattress that conforms best to your body, especially since it's the first layer that you feel when climbing into bed. Sleep Studio excels in this category by offering comfort tops from "cradling plush" to "buoyant firm."
Once you have one that works for you, build from there. Some prefer layers of sheets to bury themselves in while others are content with just a single top layer. And while silk sheets may seem luxurious, static electricity can become a real annoyance. In the same way that you wouldn't want to spend a day walking around in an itchy wool sweater, you also wouldn't want to toss and turn beneath layers of uncomfortable, starchy sheets that give you nothing to work with. Try this organic sateen sheet set from West Elm. Consider completely ditching the fitted sheet and instead use another flat sheet as your bottom layer to save yourself from the stress of trying to get that elastic corner to wrap perfectly around the edge of your mattress. For the coziest of down comforters, try finding something simple yet versatile like this one from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. It doesn't require a duvet cover, but I like to have one handy to help preserve the comforter every now and then.
Pillows are the icing on the cake. There are many different kinds nowadays for stomach sleepers, side sleepers, back sleepers, you name it. I love that feeling of my head sinking into my pillow at night and having my neck cradled, yet still supported, therefore if you're like me then I would suggest a set like these down throw pillow inserts. You may enjoy that flat pillow you've been carrying around since childhood, but your neck needs some support while you sleep - and better yet, it helps you to breathe easier. And the ten accent pillows that you have to throw on the ground at night before climbing in may seem fun, but what's the use when they aren't even necessary during your sleep cycle? Less is more.
Find the right nighttime noise.
For some, it's absolutely nothing and for others it's having the faint noise of a TV in the background or some mellow music. Before moving to New York, I needed a completely quiet setting in order to fall asleep. After four years of oscillating fans and window AC units blasting in the background, I've found that I need that noise (or something like it) to help me fall asleep more easily. And at least it drowns out some of the cab horns and ambulance sirens...
Music especially has become something that I latch on to before bedtime, whether it's from my record player (I'm all into vinyls now, just so you know) or the Spotify playlists I create exclusively for Winding Down and Sleeptime.
Leave work and technology alone.
I have a guilty grin on my face as I sit here in my bed typing this. Such the irony, but we must be realistic about this. As pitiful as it sounds, winding down for me sometimes entails these technological distractions like catching up on texts, phone calls and social media, otherwise I find that my mind becomes fixated on everything that I need to get done the next day or before the weekend. I have a hard time parting ways with this one, but I'll be the first to admit that I recall several nights where I've found myself dozing off with my phone still in my hand or waking up knowing that I could have had a much more restful night's sleep if I had just put the phone away an hour earlier. It's like grabbing for a piece of chocolate; you don't want to deprive yourself, but you must set some limitations otherwise you'll overindulge.
What habits or tricks have you found that help you to fall asleep more easily? Leave your comments below!