Any new parent can attest to the value of a good night’s sleep. As the mother of two girls who were babies not so long ago, this author knows firsthand that sleep deprivation is part of the job description and that making good eyesight isn’t easy. Recognizing this common dilemma, mattress and bedding brand Tuft & Needle recently launched a matching Sleep Ambassador program for 15 parents, teaching them how to regain their calm.
You may not be able to control exactly when you sleep at home with young children, but you can create a bedroom environment that will help optimize your wink if you can get it. We tapped two design experts who are parents themselves — Jessica Shaw, director of interior design at Turett Collaborative, and Eliza Harris, creative director at design brand Sister Parish Design — for advice on turning your bedroom into a sleep oasis. Your top tips follow.
Invest in the right bedding for the season and your climate
Comfortable sleep starts with good bedding, says Shaw. For colder regions or winter months, it pays to buy bedding with insulating properties, especially if your home or bedroom is not well insulated. Also, aim for heavier bedding like down comforters and comforters, or you can consider buying flannel sheets. In warmer regions and during the summer months, look for sheets with less insulation, such as linen or bamboo. Their breathability is much better than satin or percale and they keep you cooler.
Secure double width blackout curtains
It’s important to block out all light when it’s time to sleep, Harris says, and blackout drapes do the trick. “I don’t think I could do without mine,” she says. “Not only do they keep out external light, but there is a ritual in closing the curtains that puts your body into sleep mode.” You can find these curtains at a home furnishing store like West Elm, or buy a quality fabric from a brand like Sister Parish and have it customized to fit your aesthetic.
Integrate feng shui
The principles of feng shui revolve around the conscious arrangement of furniture and home elements to create harmony and alignment with the natural world. Arranging your bed according to feng shui principles can help ensure a good night’s sleep, according to Shaw. Your bed should always have a view of the door and the headboard or back of the bed should rest against a solid wall. Also, allocate space on either side of the bed for balance. “We want the bedroom to be free from too much stimulation and distraction, so a sense of harmony with visual elements can be beneficial when relaxing,” says Shaw.
Add essential oils to your bedtime routine
Essential oils have been shown to help with sleep and relaxation. “Eucalyptus and lavender are my favorites for their calming properties,” says Shaw. You can incorporate aromatherapy into your bedtime with a diffuser or pillow spray.
Surround yourself with meaningful memorabilia
Beloved family photos, a small work of art you took with you on that unforgettable vacation in Europe, and your favorite books are all things that bring you instant happiness. Keeping them visible in your bedroom will put you in a positive state of mind before bed. Harris says she has photos of her husband and son and an artwork by her grandmother, Apple Parish Bartlett, in her bedroom. “When I look at them, I feel good and have sweet dreams,” she says.
Find out about lighting and electronics
There’s no doubt that smartphones and technology are an integral part of our lives, but it’s important to turn off those electronics before bed, as blue light from tablet screens can interfere with our body’s production of melatonin.
In addition to reducing tablet use at night, invest in smart lighting for a good night’s sleep. Many smart lightbulbs on the market have the option to dim in time with the sunset to align your sleep cycle with your natural circadian rhythm. Also, Shaw suggests using a traditional analog alarm clock to keep the phone (and light) out of the bedroom. And a tip straight from the pro: if your baby monitor has a video component, switch it to dark mode and rely only on the sound.
Install dimmable bedside lamps
A wall light does double duty for you when it is placed next to your bed. You’ll have more room on your bedside table for books and other late-night essentials, and you can also dim the lights to create a soft glow when it’s time to relax. The lower light signals your brain to relax and makes you more sleepy.
Make your bed every morning
For tired new parents, making the bed in the morning is hardly a priority. However, this simple task subconsciously tells our brain that it’s time to start the day. Also, a made bed will help keep your room tidy and prevent the temptation to climb back in. “That makes it all the sweeter at the end of the day, because nothing beats pulling back the sheets and slipping into a nicely made bed,” says Shaw.