There are few routines at home that feel more like a ritual than bedtime. The parade of nightly tasks can take many forms, but they’re always meant to downshift the whir of daily life to something more muted. But if your bedroom isn’t set up to soothe, it’s hard to drift gently off to sleep—or to get the quality of rest you crave.
“An ideal bedroom will provide an environment for rest, positivity, and relaxation,” says interior designer Natalie Kraiem. “[It] should feel like your favorite hotel suite, but with personal items such as a few picture frames, a nice candle, and a book.”
Refreshing a space as intimate as where you sleep has the power to reframe your perspective on comfort. Changing even small things can have a major impact on your sleep. From going all-in on a new mattress to ditching screens, here are eight ways to make your bedroom a place to look forward to retreating to every night.
Invest in a quality mattress—seriously
When was the last time you replaced your mattress? If you can’t remember (or you can, but it’s a while), it’s probably time. It’s customary to replace a mattress every 7 to 10 years, but it’s also important to listen to your body ahead of that. Do you have back aches, or a general uncomfortable feeling when you’re in bed? Are you waking up not feeling rested? Do you get a better night’s sleep when you travel, and not just because it’s vacation? These are all tell-tale signs that something is up with the place you sleep.
“The mattress is the most important element [of getting] a great night’s sleep,” says Kraiem. “My key recommendation is to source one from a company with a good, long-lasting reputation, like Stearns & Foster.” When it comes to purchasing something you spend virtually every night on, the choice shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many factors to consider, such as size, sleeping style, and support level.
The Stearns & Foster Reserve Hepburn Mattress is one option you can customize to suit those needs, with choices like firm or plush, and adding a pillow top. Plus, its exclusively designed foams and coils work in tandem to offer pressure-relief and support; in-set handles make for easy moving; and an upholstery-grade velvet exterior keeps it looking great for years.
Incorporate lighting in layers
Finding ways to cut down on unwanted bedroom light at nighttime will make falling asleep that much easier. Seek out a window treatment that will obscure outside brightness at night but doesn’t block it during the day: Kraiem suggests lightweight curtains or Roman shades in a beautiful fabric with blackout lining behind either.
As for in-room lighting, Kraiem suggests a mix, from table lamps and reading sconces to recessed lights or flush mounts and chandeliers. Try bulbs that have lower wattages to keep the mood relaxed, or choose lampshades that diffuse brightness. Dimmers are useful in the bedroom, as are smart bulbs that respond to vocal or phone-app commands to take things down a notch.
Three-way switches let you control a ceiling light or other electrical fixture from two different locations in a room, so placing one next to the bed means you don’t have to get up to turn off the lights. But, Kraiem says, “if you have to just select a few sources of light, I think table lamps and a chandelier would be ideal.”
Bring in calming scents
Chamomile. Lavender. Cedar. Ylang ylang. Whether it’s from a candle in smokey glass, a beautiful ceramic incense holder, or a sleek stone diffuser, tranquil scents are great to bring into the bedroom for their stress- and anxiety-relieving properties. (It’s nice that home-fragrance packaging is so good-looking these days, too.)
“It’s very relaxing to light an aromatic candle in the bedroom,” Kraiem says, noting that she switches up her scents by season—richer in the winter, brighter and citrusy in the summer. She also likes diffusers, but since the scent from them lingers longer, she typically opts for something lighter like jasmine. Similarly, she likes to arrange fragrant flowers on occasion, to “dress up the space.”
Pay attention to linens
“Bedding is crucial to good sleep and the design of the room,” says Kraiem. But the boundless options for sheets can be dizzying—so do your research on what will be most comfortable for your sleep style.
The Better Sleep Council says that the best sleep temperature for most people is around 65 degrees. It’s important to consider bedding that will help you reach that ideal, so try cooling sheets, like percale or linen, if you “run hot” and something warmer, like flannel, if you “run cold.” Kraiem advises having at least two sets of sheets so clean ones are always at the ready. (And: Thread count, not so important! Just go for something comfortable and soft, she says.)
The area around your bed is just as important as the bed itself. Adding a rug or quieting tatami mat underfoot offers a soft landing pad, and means cozy feet never meet cold floors straightaway.
Spring for soothing-to-you colors
A bedroom’s color scheme (in addition to lighting) will not only set the mood for the furniture and accents, it can also affect your emotions and routine. However, soothing doesn’t always mean light—depending on your preference, sometimes that means playful and bright, moodier, or contrasting.
If you want something easygoing and versatile, colors like blush or white will do. Alternatively, darker colors like emerald green, navy, and soft black offer a cozy and calming effect. And if you prefer something that offers more pep for mornings, yellow and even red in small doses can work well.
Kraiem tends toward more traditionally calming hues like shades of blue, ivory, teal, mauve, and gray.
In most cases, she prefers light-colored sheets and duvet covers. “White and ivory sheets are classics and make the bed feel clean and crisp,” she explains, adding that a subtle detail or edging can make them more interesting if you prefer something with character. For a wide variety of colors and styles, she says she relies on luxe hotel-collection sheets.
Declutter to decompress
Clutter and organization go hand-in-hand with sleep quality, Kraiem notes. “A bedroom should be peaceful, to remove any type of anxiety.” Find homes for books and knickknacks, and strategically install baskets or bins so it’s harder to litter clothes on the ground. As for electronics, try to check them at the door. That also means no TVs in the bedroom, either—some distance may offer the disconnection you didn’t know you craved. (But if you must, consider making it concealable, perhaps in an armoire or behind a screen.)
And, as much of a morning chore as it can be, a done-up bed is much more enticing to crawl into at the end of the day.
Keep in mind arrangement and size
Symmetry and harmony are important where you sleep, according to Kraiem. “I like to find a balance in bedrooms, where the bed is always the focal point,” she says. Bed height is particularly important. It should be proportionate to your height so that when laying down, you feel grounded—not too low or too high. And it should be appropriate for the size of the room; high ceilings can afford a taller frame and smaller spaces benefit from a lower profile.
Comfort should also be top of mind when thinking about bed height. “The distance between the top of the mattress and the floor should not put pressure on [your] joints while getting up or out of the bed,” Kraiem says. “If your hips and knees align and your feet are flat on the floor when sitting on the mattress, then you picked the right bed!”
When it comes to the rest of the space, Kraiem likes things to be cohesive and organized, and prefers to use nightstands on both ends. She also likes a seating area if space allows—a bench at the end of the bed, a chair in a corner, or a lounging area—to ease the transition to bedtime. Her last words on bedroom design? Make it personal, comfortable, and beautiful.