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Students sleep in all kinds of places: the school bus, the library, friends’ couches, the occasional classroom. Some of those spots work far better than others, in part because the length and quality of our sleep has a lot to do with our immediate environment. We asked you how you make your bedroom into a sleep-happy space. For students’ tips, click on each element.

Window treatment

Need a sleep cure? Try a window treatment

“Purchase blackout curtains. They are extremely effective. Once you close your bedroom door, everything becomes pitch black.”
—Name withheld, Miami, Florida

“Block most or all of the sunlight coming through your window(s). This can be done with a black fleece blanket. It’s easy and inexpensive.”
—Male, name & location withheld

Temperature & white noise

Fan for temperature control

Run a fan for temperature control and white noise.”
—Breanna, Green Bay, Wisconsin

“Sleep with socks on, and keep your room slightly cooler than the rest of the house.”
—Mark, New Brunswick, Canada

“Control the temperature with AC and the heater or fans.”
—Thiago, Boston, Massachusetts

Fan for white noise

“Get a fan or a white noise machine! As a light sleeper I often find dorm sleeping difficult, but the noise from my fan and white noise apps help me a ton!”
—Female, name & location withheld

“I use a fan every night. It doesn’t have to be loud, just enough to help sleep.”
—Samantha, Bangor, Maine

Décor & layout

Consider your décor and room design

“Just be comfortable. Everyone is different, but don’t be too cluttered, and organize a little so that you don’t feel stressed out. A clear room is like a clear mind. ”
—Josue, junior, Boston, Massachusetts

“Decorate with calming colors; blues and yellows, not bright and exciting colors. It helps to relax you as you walk into your room…your sanctuary.”
—Sarah, San Antonio, Texas

Organize the furniture in a way that makes you feel comfortable. You want your room to feel like your room. I like mine with the bed against the wall and facing the window so I can fall asleep/wake up looking out the window, and with open space so I don’t feel all penned up.”
—Chad, Clemson, South Carolina

Hang things you love on the walls.”
—Erica, sophomore, Boston, Massachusetts

Lighting

Light touch: See these shining examples of watts being saved

“A lamp that has yellowish/red light helps me sleep.”
—Heather, Irvine, California

“Put up fairy lights/Christmas tree lights instead. They make for a better atmosphere altogether.”
—Female, name & location withheld

“Put tape over any little lights, like on surge protectors.”
—Stephanie, DeKalb, Illinois

No clutter

Put away your physical and metaphorical clutter

“Try tidying up before going to sleep and throwing away trash.”
—Emillianna, sophomore, Indianapolis, Indiana

“Keep only the bare necessities, like a computer, a single desk, an extra shelf (too many will just create more clutter to clean later).”
—Ramish, Alberta, Canada

“If you’re surrounded by clutter, there’s a good chance your mind will be cluttered as well, which can make it hard to relax and sleep.”
—Grace, Arcata, California

Your bed

Make your bed comfortable and inviting

“Do not bring electronics to your bedroom, and fill your whole room with comfortable pillows and blankets.”
—Christina, senior, Concord, Massachusetts

“I’ve had my mattress pad for over a year now and I don’t know what I would do without it. It really makes a big difference.”
—Rajeev, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Make your bed every morning. There is no better feeling than pulling back the covers when you’re ready for bed.”
—Hollie, Joplin, Missouri

Nightstand makeover

Make over your nightstand

“An eye mask became a must for when I wanted to sleep before my [sister] was ready for bed!”
—Karalyn, Carrollton, Georgia

“If you can’t deal with [noise], get some earplugs!”
—Casey, Bristol, Rhode Island

Noise-canceling headphones are a must if you have noisy neighbors, especially upstairs neighbors with noisy feet.”
—Matthew, Arcata, California

“If you are struggling to sleep, a book or magazine will keep your bed ‘screen-free’ while satisfying your evening entertainment needs.”
—Onyx, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Scents like lavender [may] help relaxation and promote a longer sleep.”
—Sofia, Monmouth, Oregon

Listen up

Now listen up

Many people fall asleep more easily when they listen to music, guided meditation or relaxation, audio books, or white noise apps. This habit calls for discipline around electronic gadgets. Consider using an old iPod or other device without internet access so you won’t be tempted to roam or surf, or place your audio gadget on the other side of the room.

Find a song, sound, or poem to play repeatedly throughout the night.”
—Saoirse, senior, Boston, Massachusetts

“A low-beat slow or blues music can do wonders for getting sound sleep.”
—Nurudeen, Alberta, Canada

“I have an iHome that plays rain sounds while I sleep to help me relax and not focus on my internal thoughts.”
—Danielle, Baltimore, Maryland

“Listen to ASMR to fall asleep.”
—Cecilia, San Bernardino, California

+ ASMR app
+ Free audio books
+ Free guided mindfulness
+ Meditation & white noise app

Work zone

Work zone: Preserve the separation of work and sleep

Keep work out of your room. Never, ever do homework there, especially while sitting on your bed because soon you will be programmed to work in bed instead of sleep. I advise doing work at a desk or a kitchen table.”
—Justice, sophomore, Indianapolis, Indiana

“Your brain associates tasks with places. Doing something stressful in the bedroom creates a stressful association with the bedroom. It also makes doing that work harder because your body is telling you to sleep instead.”
—Glen, Santa Clara, California

“[If your bedroom is where you study] have a desk in your room and do schoolwork at the desk so the bed doesn’t become a work place.”
—Heather, Irvine, California

Recharge

Recharge: Try electronic engineering

(It’s easier than you think)

Keep your phone away from the bed. Once your phone is accessible from where you are sleeping, there is not going to be any sleeping going on. Whether it’s Angry Birds, Sims, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, your best friend, or just bae sending you cute goodnight texts, your phone will keep you awake.”
—Diana, sophomore, Forest Park, Illinois

“Do not put your computer/laptop next to your bed. If possible, put it across or facing away from your bed.”
—Truc, San Jose, California

Don’t have a TV in your room.”
—Walter, San Diego, California

“On my smartphone and laptop, I use programs that ‘remove’ the blue light emitted from electronic devices. This blue light disrupts your melatonin level, which also makes it harder to fall asleep.”
—Amber, Boston, Massachusetts

Turn the electronics off one hour before you sleep. The light and activity from an electronic device can actually keep you up because your brain is so active.”
—Athena, Lakewood, Colorado

Light control for iOS devices
+ f.lux
+ screen dimmer

Light control for Android devices
+ Twilight
+ screen dimmer

Bedtime routine

Cherish your nighttime routine

“Try to have a bedtime routine if you have trouble getting to sleep. Creating this schedule can help your body and brain.”
—Ed, Gardner, Massachusetts

“Create a regimen when prepping yourself to sleep. For example, I fluff my pillows and spray my bed with calming fragrances such as lavender.”
—Female, school & location withheld

“It helps me to relax knowing I’ll be waking up to a tidy room that’s ready for the morning. I make sure my keys are by the door, my bag is packed for the next day, and I usually have my breakfast planned out as well. Just a few minutes at night help me have stress-free mornings.”
—Kim, Santa Clara, California

“Work out your problems before going to bed so you don’t stay up for two hours just thinking.” [If your worries tend to end up in bed with you, keep a pen and notebook on your night stand; writing them down can help release your mind.]
—Karen, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Article sources

Student Health 101 survey, July 2015.

Student Health 101 survey, February 2016.

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Joanna Carmona is communications coordinator at the National Patient Safety Foundation. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Student Health 101. She has also edited collegiate textbooks for Cengage Learning and creating language learning materials for the US Department of Defense, libraries, and other educational institutions. Her BA in Spanish is from the University of New Hampshire.


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Lucy Berrington is a health writer, editor, and communications manager. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the US and UK. She has an MS in health communication from Tufts University School of Medicine, Massachusetts, and a BA from the University of Oxford, UK.