If you're not getting the quality shut-eye you crave, it may be time to rethink your bedroom environment. A lack of sleep can lead to more than just sluggishness and under-eye circles; research shows that it can weaken the immune system, cause weight gain, and impede overall health, not to mention shorten your life span. While you can't build more hours into your day, you can tinker with your bedroom environment to improve your chances of getting a restful night's sleep. Here are a number of ways to do that.
Install a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans act like a lullaby, whispering white noise while creating a gentle breeze to keep your body cool. And, since they're cheaper to operate than an air conditioner, you won't lie awake fretting over your electric bills. Allergy sufferers should look for a model whose blades are coated with nanoparticles to prevent dust buildup, such as those from The Hunter Fan Company.
Get step-by-step instructions at How to Install a Ceiling Fan.
Repaint in Soothing Colors
Tuscan yellow may be the perfect hue to brighten a dark entryway, but it's not ideal for a restful night's sleep. A better choice? A calming shade in a cool-color family like blue, green, or purple. To prevent that fresh-paint scent from keeping you alert, choose a low- or zero-VOC paint, such as Benjamin Moore's Natura or Sherwin-Williams's Harmony.
Use a Reading Lamp
Does your partner prefer to read in order to fall asleep, while you'd rather kill the lights and turn in immediately? Look for a lamp with a telescoping neck, like this one from Levenger, that will shine the light directly on your bedmate's book rather than in your eyes.
Reconsider Your Alarm Clock
Waking up rested isn't just about the number of hours your head meets the pillow—it's also about how you're awakened. An alarm clock that smoothes the transition from slumber to wakefulness, rather than jarring you awake, will help you start the day feeling fresh. The best bet is something that will ease you into the day, like Hammacher Schlemmer's Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock, which ever so gradually increases light, aromatherapy scents, and one of six nature sounds. Waking up for work never felt so good.
Use an Air Purifier
Dust, pollen, and pet dander trigger allergic reactions that cause sinus and asthma problems and disrupt a good night's sleep. Among the many air purifiers available, Honeywell's HFD-120Q uses HEPAQuiet technology to capture those common airborne allergens, and it comes with an easy-clean permanent filter.
Buy a New Mattress
Do you spend countless hours awake while your partner tosses and turns? Foam mattresses like those from Tempur-Pedic and Nectar let you sink into your own territory and remain undisturbed by a bedmate's tossing and turning. If you are curious about which bed will be best for both you and your partner, make sure to check out our best mattresses for couples roundup. And, since they require no box springs, the bed doesn't shift, squeak, or creak.
Install Dimmer Switches
Remember how cozy it felt when you your mom turned out the light after tucking you in? Re-create that comforting atmosphere with a dimmer switch that works via remote control. Lutron's Maestro IR Dimmers come in 27 colors and allow you to select your favorite light level for any atmosphere.
Practice a Little Feng Shui
Removing slumber-sapping items from your bedroom—like light-generating TV sets or guilt-inducing home-office equipment or exercise equipment—streamlines your bedroom for what it's designed for: sleep.
Provide Your Dog a Bed
Fido may be a beloved family member, but a 3 a.m. paw to the face won't help in your efforts to get some uninterrupted shut-eye. Give your pooch a special spot to rest so that you'll have one too. PETCO has a lot of choices that provide a snuggly space for your pet.
Wall-to-wall carpet traps dust, mold, pet dander, and other allergens that even the priciest vacuum cleaner can't remove. Worried you'll miss the cozy feel of pile under your feet on cold mornings? Rugman.com has thousands of Persian rugs at discount prices that will enrich any decor. For something more contemporary, CB2 has a lot of colorful options.
Install Blackout Shades
Brilliant morning light can deprive you of crucial REM sleep. One of the easiest ways to find something suitable for keeping you asleep is with the Blind Finder at blinds.com. Once you're awake and ambulatory, though, be sure to open the shades wide, because morning light also helps strengthen your circadian rhythms.
Upgrade to Allergen-Free Bedding
Read labels carefully before purchasing allergen-free bedding. Hypoallergenic means the fabric is made from something you won't be allergic to, while dust-mite covers actually trap mites inside, preventing them from coming out of the mattress to feed on your dead skin cells.
Set Up a Bedroom Fireplace
What could be more relaxing than winding down at night in front of a roaring fire? Pick up a chimney-free electric fireplace from your local Lowes or Home Depot, and get the coziness of a traditional model without the messy post-blaze ashes. There's no venting required, although that underscores the importance of getting a unit that's correctly sized for the room and installed and serviced by a pro. The last thing you want, after all, is to promote unhealthy air quality.