How to become an Emperor of Sleep
(a Bedroom Guide)
Millions of Americans struggle with insomnia, but that doesn’t have to be you! Unleash your inner Morpheus, king of dreams, by making your bedroom a palace for sleep.
Deep, regular sleep promotes daytime alertness, heals illness and injury, and helps you process life’s stressful problems. This guide will help you arrange all aspects of your bedroom and your day so you’ll end your evenings in slumber land.
The first part of this guide is dedicated to a key component of sleeping like royalty: mastering your domain. In this case, your domain is the bedroom, and the centerpiece of your bedroom is your bed.
Any number of bed-related things could help or hinder your sleep, but today we’re just going to go over the big five: your mattress, your bed foundation, your mattress protector, your sheets, and your pillows.
Choosing the right mattress deserves a guide of its own– luckily, we’ve got you covered on that front! Mattresses range from soft to firm, and can be made of a variety of foam or innerspring materials.
Mattress prices range anywhere from $100-$10,000, so figuring out your price point before going through guidebooks can keep you from losing sleep over going over-budget. Feel free to check out our mattress guide; we’ll still be here when you return.
The foundation is whatever is underneath your mattress. Bedroom kings and queens don’t just plop their mattresses on the floor; not having a foundation is such a peasant move.
But if you’ve never put much thought into what’s under your bed (monsters excluded, of course), there are three kinds of bases to consider: a frame with a box spring, a platform, or an adjustable base.
The majority of beds are on top of a frame and box spring; it’s pretty common. But common doesn’t necessarily mean mediocre. Box springs are fabric-covered wood or steel framed boxes with large internal springs, creating a sturdy surface.
Their main purpose is to reduce wear and tear to your mattress over time by absorbing some of the shock when you get in and out of bed. These furnishings usually come with your mattress when you purchase it, and they raise your bed about 16 inches off the ground.
A platform bed combines a frame and a box into a single product. It doesn’t have springs; instead, it has wooden or metal slats across the frame. These platforms are more compact and keep your bed lower to the ground.
Often, these products come with a decorative headboard to keep your pillows from falling off and sliding into the crack between the head of your bed and the wall, although this isn’t true of every platform bed.
An adjustable base is incredibly helpful to anyone with sleep trouble. Adjustable beds have an internal mechanism that raises and lowers the top half of the bed at an angle, so a sleeper doesn’t have to lie completely flat. This angled position can help you if you have back pain or respiratory problems, so you can sleep pain-free.
Mattress protectors are there to keep your mattress clean and free of bed bugs, dust mites, allergens, and permanent stains. These protectors can help keep you from voiding the warranty on the mattress and make it last longer, and they also protect your health when you sleep.
Most mattress protectors fit over your mattress like a sheet with elastic corners that can hug the mattress’ body even when you roll around at night. There are basically two kinds of mattress protectors to look into: traditional mattress protectors and mattress protectors designed to defend against allergens.
Traditional mattress protectors are made of rubber, cotton, or synthetic materials like memory foam. The rubber and memory foam protectors are easily washable and designed to defend your mattress from spills and sweat. But, they can be hot to sleep on.
Anti-allergen mattress protectors are zippered, fully covering the mattress and, if applicable, the box spring. The zippered encasement kills mites and bedbugs and prevents new eggs from being laid. These are made from waterproof materials to prevent mold from growing in the mattress.
Sheets are an important component to ruling your bedtime kingdom. They cocoon your body, keep you from sweating all over the blankets, and the best ones are perfect for pulling up under your chin and burrowing into.
The best sheets suit the temperature of the room, have a good texture against your skin, and harbor no allergens to jerk you from sleep by making you cough or sneeze. Let’s look at four materials your sheets might be made of to see which work for you.
Luxurious silk sheets are the warmest sheets for the winter months. Their fibers are natural heat reflectors, so all your body heat under a silk sheet gets sent back to you, like in an igloo.
These sheets are smooth and surprisingly cool to the touch. They’re also 100% natural, a byproduct of the silkworm that has been harvested for over 5000 years.
Flannel is a loose knit fabric that’s usually either made from wool or from a blend of wool and cotton. It’s not quite as warm as silk, but it’s still snug and toasty enough for most cold nights, and flannel sheets often half the price of silk ones.
Polyester is a catch-all term for any sheet that’s a blend of synthetic, man-made fabrics. That’s why polyester sheets have such a broad range of textures and temperatures: no two polyester sheets are truly the same material. On the plus side, polyester sheets are usually cool, washable, and inexpensive, so they’re good for a king on a budget.
Cotton jersey sheets are better for higher temperature places. Cotton is a natural product from a plant, and cotton jersey is an inexpensive method of weaving, similar to the method used to make cotton t-shirts.
With cotton, thread count becomes important; higher thread-count sheets are more comfortable than scratchy, lower thread-count sheets, and they’re less likely to bunch up.
Pillows are the crown of the bed. The ideal pillow is soft enough for you to feel comfortable, without putting strain on your neck by propping you up too high. Pillows can be full of goose feathers, or they can be full of cotton or synthetic materials.
If you find your body is often sore, it can help to incorporate a u-shaped travel pillow to your sleeping routine, or to prop your knees up over a folded body pillow when you lay on your back. There’s really no wrong way to use pillows.
Now that you’ve got your bed in order, it’s almost time to lie in it. But, before you do, it may be vital to cultivate a soothing ambiance in your room, in order to help you drift off to sleep.
People have different auditory preferences when it comes to drifting off, but for many, absolute silence can be jarring. We would recommend purchasing some means of infusing your bedroom landscape with quite, soothing noise instead.
This could be from a white noise machine, or it could be a rejuvenating spa-themed playlist on YouTube or Spotify; these playlists are easy to find if you search for “soothing ocean and piano” or “guitar and rainforest.” Simply choose your favorite instrument and natural environment and voila.
Another sense to soothe as you drift off is your sense of smell. Help your nose relax by infusing the air with scents. Choose floral evening scents like jasmine and orchid over bright daytime scents like citrus to get into sleep mode.
And, finally, don’t forget the obvious: dim lighting. Lights, especially LED lights from phone and computer screens, are shown to make people anxious when they’re trying to sleep. If at all possible, use only natural, yellow lighting in your room. Otherwise, it may be useful to purchase an inexpensive eye mask to keep yourself in the dark.
The last, and potentially most important, aspect of ideal sleep is cultivating a bedtime routine. Try to shut off all electronics, including your phone, at least an hour before you go to bed.
Contrary to popular belief, while watching television may not be active, TV can often be stimulating to your synapses, which means unwinding in front of a rerun of Friends may not help you relax as much as you need to for deep sleep.
Make sure your bedtime routine begins as close as possible to the same time every night. Incorporate enjoyable analog activities like reading, knitting, or soaking in the bath in addition to things like making your bed and maintaining your personal hygiene.
One aspect of a routine that helps many is to purposefully put work items, like a laptop, in a drawer for the night, physically showing yourself that work is done for the day.
So there you have it: be the king or queen of sleep. Make your bed and bedroom thoughtfully, and cultivate a routine. With luck, this helps you get rested and ready for tomorrow better than counting sheep ever could.