The last few weeks I’ve been sharing all the pretty details of my bedroom. But if you’ve been following me for any amount of time then you know that I never make pretty updates without also mixing in the practical. Because our homes should be both—pretty and practical.
In our bedroom, the practical updates all centered around one main goal: getting better sleep.
Neither of us was sleeping well. We weren’t falling asleep easily, we were waking multiple times per night, and we were feeling tired all day. We decided to look at what might be ruining our sleep in the bedroom.
Turns out we had a mountain of issues all related to these three things:
- Wifi intrusion
- Light leaks
- Daylight confusion
Thankfully, they were all super simple to fix and now we’re sleeping much better. We made five quick updates over the course of a few months and with each one our sleep improved.
1. Kill the WiFi
We used to keep our cell phones on our nightstands. We had power strips under the nightstands to plug the chargers into. We had wifi enabled on our phones.
Why is that so bad?
Well, some research suggests that radiation, or “electropollution”, from smart phones causes headaches and interrupts sleep patterns. We read *Zapped by Anne Louise Gittleman and were convinced enough of the potential for harm from our phones that we decided to make some changes. It can’t hurt to be cautious.
So we moved things around. I set up a charging tray on the dresser, which is more than six feet away from our heads when we’re sleeping. Once the phones left the nightstands, so did the power strips under the nightstands. The only thing plugged in anywhere near the headboard are the nightstand lamps.
For our new charging station, I used a bamboo bathroom tray we found years ago at Crate and Barrel. (They currently carry a *darker bamboo version.) The bamboo didn’t hold up so well to the moisture in the bathroom so it was looking for a new home. I lined the tray with decorative contact paper. I added two small binder clips on the edge to guide the phone cords and keep them in place. I added a small piece of the decorative contact paper to cover the black part of the binder clip. I like that the tray is large enough to charge the occasional iPad too.
I think it’s hard to quantify the impact this change had on our sleep, because you can’t exactly feel the effects of wifi beams radiating your body (if that really happens), but I can say that moving the phones away from the bed had other positive benefits. Since our phones aren’t in easy reach, we are less tempted to mindlessly surf or check Facebook when we settle into bed. Also, because I am horribly talented at turning off all alarms and falling back to sleep without even knowing an alarm went off, having my phone clear on the other side of the room makes a great alarm. I have to get up and go turn it off.
2. Eliminate Light Leaks
Oh, the light issues. This one I didn’t believe was really a problem until we fixed it and now I can say it made a night and day difference.
Starting with the windows, we have a large ten foot wall of windows on my side of the bed. We have white wooden blinds that did an okay job of privacy and light control. But there always seemed to be light leaking in around the edges of the blinds. Outside the window there’s a street lamp and neighbors behind us with bright patio lights. The moon makes an extra bright appearance once in a while too.
I really didn’t think much of it until my husband suggested we try blackout curtains like we had installed in our boy’s rooms to help them sleep better. We still hadn’t found the right curtains when I realized just how much those light leaks bothered me at night. I realized I was always sleeping facing into the room, because I could never fall asleep facing the window.
The first night we had our new room darkening panels up, I was amazed and a little freaked out about how dark our bedroom was. But I slept like a baby. I could toss and turn any which way without light disturbances.
We used the Sanela panels in dark turquoise from IKEA. They are not lined with black out material, so they are not light-blocking during the day. But they are dark enough to block ambient light at night, including a glaring street lamp, annoying motion-sensing patio lights, and a full moon.
We had a few other minor, pesky light leaks to take care of too. On the TV and the Apple TV the power lights were glaring in our newly darkened room. We cozied up with the instruction manuals and learned how to turn off the power indicator lights. For some power lights, a small piece of electrical tape might do the trick.
3. Cut Out Daylight Confusion
Yes, we have a TV in the bedroom and we do watch TV every night before we go to bed. We also sometimes look at our phones or use our laptops in bed or read on the Kindle. So many screens! I know it’s bad, but I am being honest here. We are tech people and we love our devices.
The problem is the blue light emitted from the screens tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime. Obviously we could set a screen time curfew, but what’s the fun in that? My husband came up with a better solution…orange safety glasses.
Weird, I know. It’s oh so sexy to crawl into bed and put on your orange safety glasses. Although you might feel totally nerdy, you won’t be able to deny how well this trick works. It makes everything look weird and orange, but it cuts the blue light getting into your eyeballs and allows you to get tired.
Whenever I’ve had coffee too late in the day and decide to stay up late reading on my phone, I pop on the safety goggles and within 20 minutes I am zonked out.
4. Use the Right Night Lights
Another way we’ve combatted daylight confusion in our home is with amber-colored LED lights. Our oldest son isn’t allowed screens of any sort in his room, but he prefers having a light in his room to read by in the evening. We used to turn on a regular lamp, but then he was staying up so late. We swapped the light bulb for an amber-colored LED light and now he reads for a short bit and then goes right to sleep.
We use *these LED lightbulbs in amber.
5. Settle In for the Long Night
Even with all these sleeping hacks, sometimes it’s still impossible to quiet a busy mind and fall asleep. We started meditating at bedtime. I know it sounds corny, but after a long day we lay down, hold hands, and meditate ourselves to sleep. We don’t do it every night, but if one of us is stressed, in pain, or has an overly active mind (that’d be me all the time), we use meditation to settle in for the night.
We love the Bhuddify app and use the “Going to Sleep” or “Can’t Sleep” meditations a few times a week. Most of the meditations are between 6-10 minutes long and we never remember hearing the end of them. I guess that’s the sign of a quiet mind.
My Challenge to You
If you want to sleep better, I challenge you to just try one of the five things above. Every one can improve your sleep, which can change your life. Since making these five changes I fall asleep easily, stay asleep through the night, and I am more focused and alert throughout the day. I am even waking up to an alarm everyday—actually getting up mind you, not tapping the snooze button—because I don’t feel tired anymore in the morning.
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