This month, we're determined to help you catch more z's. We've partnered with Equinox to build a sleep challenge guaranteed to help you feel more well-rested by October's end. Each week, we'll tackle one science-backed strategy to help you work toward getting more quality sleep. This week, we're talking about how to prime your bedroom for optimal shut-eye—from the right temperature to the ideal bedside accessories.
While the 12-week sleep makeover I took part in at Equinox this summer taught me many things—namely, how to mitigate the stress that was throwing my snooze cycles completely out whack—I walked into the experience confident about at least one aspect of my routine. I realized long ago that a beautiful, cozy bedroom is a worthy investment for the sake of both my insomnia and my mental health, and I pride myself on the temperature-regulated, palo santo–scented sanctuary I've built.
"Creating an environment for quality sleep is something that most people can control," says Kenneth Laing, the Equinox Tier-X trainer who served as my sleep coach this summer. "Because of that, this can be an easy first step toward improving sleep."
Of course, a lot of this comes down to personal preference. I recognize that my inclination to wind down with some scented candles and old records might not prove as relaxing to someone else. But there are a few universal, science-backed truths to building an optimal environment for sleep. Keep reading to see what they are.
1. Adjust your temperature
"Temperature recommendations vary but range from 60º to 75º," says Laing. This is because your body's circadian rhythm, or internal clock, is regulated in part by body temperature. "If it's too cold or too hot, it's hard for the body to maintain it's set point for temperature," he adds. "This makes it difficult to both fall asleep and stay asleep."
A general rule of thumb is to err on the side of keeping your bedroom cool since a drop in body temperature actually signals sleepiness in the brain. If, like me, you prefer to burrow yourself in a pile of blankets no matter the season, then a high-powered fan is a wise investment. Dyson's Pure Cool ($550) doubles as an air purifier—essential if you live in a city and/or are prone to allergies.
Your bedding can also make all the difference in regulating your body temperature as you sleep. If you tend to run hot, consider linen sheets like Parachute's classic set ($169). They're breathable and moisture-wicking, so you won't wake up at 2 a.m. in a sweat.
2. Make it dark—really dark
"There should be little to no light, and that includes electronic devices," says Laing. Too much light actually signals our brain to start waking up, which doesn't just make it more difficult to fall asleep in the moment. It can throw your whole circadian rhythm out of whack, making you especially groggy the next day.
Blackout curtains are a fantastic investment for this reason, but a sleep mask will do the trick too, so long as you pick something comfortable. We're huge fans of Slip's Eye Mask ($50). The silk is so gentle on our skin and hair that we actually enjoy wearing it.
3. And quiet, too
It's easier said than done, but any steps you can take to tune out distracting noises will make all the difference. This especially rings true in an urban environment. Research confirms that those who live in cities are more likely to have trouble sleeping at night thanks in part to the noisy atmosphere.
If you're a light sleeper, Laing recommends investing in a white noise machine. This one from Amazon boasts over 8000 positive reviews.
4. The rest is up to you
Once you've established the aforementioned trifecta, building out your sleep sanctuary really comes down to personal preference. Is there a scented candle that always calms you down? Lavender spray on your pillow? Play around and see what works for you.
All in all, says Laing, "you want to make this a space that you feel comfortable in." Let's be real: There are worse obligations than building yourself a cozy bedroom.