While, by now, almost everyone can recite the nightly recommended sleep minimum (ahem, 8 hours!), the sheer knowledge of what’s required doesn’t translate into our continued prioritization of adequate rest….and it’s really no surprise- there seems to be a million things standing in the way of our restful sleep! Going to bed after a big meal, indulging in wine in the hours before hitting the sack, and too much ongoing stress are all factors which could prevent us from getting a deeply restful sleep.

However, there is one reason that most of us may not even realize is preventing us from decent shuteye—how peaceful is the area in which we’re sleeping? Our bedrooms all vary greatly, from size to bedding, to lighting and décor; even smell is widely different across the board. So, what is it about our bedrooms may be consistently causing our lack of sleep?

Why is the bedroom such an important place?

Studies show that we spend about one-third of our lives in the bedroom. With that much time devoted to a single activity, there must be some serious impact from being in one environment for such a lengthy duration.

Research has proven that our bedroom environments not only affect our sleep, but they also affect our overall health and wellness- including the length of our lives. Health and sleep expert Shawn Stevenson asserts that the places we most often frequent- i.e., our bedrooms- help formulate neurological associations that help develop brain patterns. These patterns correlate directly with the place that helps create them; thus, our bedrooms are continuously helping to form our brain patterns- along with the way we think, behave, and sleep.

This is a lot of pressure to put on just one room in our home, and these findings only reinforce the fact that our bedrooms greatly influence how well we sleep- probably much more than we think!

This new importance being placed on our sleeping environment leads us to think about how we can improve it. Along with creating a peaceful sleep sanctuary that benefits our long-term health and overall rest, it’s important to focus on creating a great sleep routine as well. This routine accompanied by the state of our bedroom can greatly benefit the quality of sleep and our life overall.

How to create a sleep sanctuary:

With the bedroom being such an important place, there’s much that we could do to make it a more peaceful, relaxing, healthy place to get a more restful night’s sleep. With the amount of possible sleep-affecting toxins and dangers that could be creeping into the bedroom, it’s so important to create a wonderfully sleepy sanctuary to make the most of our nightly z’s. This also includes everything you do in the sleep sanctuary (other than sleep), and everything you do in the moments just before you hit the sack.

Create a strong sleep ritual of relaxation.

By conditioning your mind to associate your nightly ritual with sleep, you can drift away more peacefully each evening. Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up around the same time every morning. Make sure that you continually keep up the same healthy habits- like getting at least eight hours of sleep and making sure not to eat any large amounts of food after eight o’clock at night. Creating a strong sleep ritual means not only being consistent with the times in which you sleep, but becoming habitual with everything you do before bed. Make washing your face a ritual of its own- focus on caring for your skin, caring for your health, and the awareness of the present moment. We also love to incorporate one, emotional self-care ritual- for example, expedite your personal growth through pre-sleep reading, embrace gratitude with regular journaling, or improve your mindfulness with a session of gentle yoga.

Don’t allow technology to interrupt your bedroom bliss.

Your bedroom should be a place of utter relaxation- your own personal sanctuary of calm. Computers and phones exude tons of radiation along with many harmful chemicals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and the like. No one wants waves of radiation washing over them in the night, so power down your phone and laptop each evening. Plus, technology can be a huge distraction from getting a good night’s sleep, and having the temptation removed from the room allows for a peaceful disconnect into a restful sleep.

Keep your bedroom in a constant state of zen.

It isn’t easy to access feelings of zen-like calmness in a room full of chaotic clutter. Organize your bedroom, so the clutter and mess aren’t taking your attention away from what you’re there to do, i.e., sleep! Research has proven that a messy room can cause added stress in the brain, and sleeping in a state of disorder leads to interrupted sleep patterns. It’s important to be mostly neat in the bedroom and organize as much as possible before bedtime especially since mess can attract and trap dust, allergens, and other harmful particles.

Start with a solid foundation.

Your mattress is vital to a healthy night’s sleep! Because you spend a third of your life snoozing, consider purchasing a new mattress as an investment in your health and wellbeing.

Breathe freely.

If you’ve been having trouble falling asleep, you can create a nightly ritual of deep, mindful breathing, but you should also consider the quality of the air in your bedroom. Investing in a humidifier for dry, winter air can keep you breathing easily while keeping your nasal passages healthy. Help keep the air free of allergens and harmful bacteria by vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning regularly. Not only can poor air quality keep you up all night, but some conditions can affect your health drastically over time.

What have you done to transform your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary?