Trouble Sleeping? 5 Tips on Creating a Sleep Sanctuary

by Brittney Stefanic


A sleep what?!

When thinking about creating a sleep space that is conducive to great rest, you want to feel calm, relaxed, and invited as you walk into the space. I love the phrase “sleep sanctuary” instead of the bedroom because it feels fancier, and creating a sanctuary is often one of the first steps in prioritizing sleep!


Making sure your sleep space feels like a sanctuary can be very helpful for initiating (and maintaining) sleep. Take a peek at these five tips for transforming the bedrooms in your home into sleep sanctuaries.


Tip 1: Out with the old

Removing clutter and laundry from your bedroom is a great first step. If you are anything like me, you are known for a giant pile of laundry (either clean or dirty) that lives on your floor or even on your bed.

This mound of clothes may just seem like a small inconvenience, but chances are it stimulates some sort of stress response, and it should not be in your room! Find another place for it – guest room, laundry basket in the closet, or better yet… Get it put away!

With spring cleaning upon us, consider taking a few hours to get rid of the things that no longer bring you joy! May I suggest a little KonMari clean out in order to have fewer clothes to stress about AND less laundry to do. You may be surprised at how much a small change like that can impact your stress reduction and benefit your sleep!


Tip 2: Boring is the best

If there are other things in your bedroom (a book that you just can’t seem to finish, the pile of donations that you haven’t dropped off yet, the old baby bassinet that is still in the corner) that are creating negative feelings or tough emotions, spend a few minutes getting them out of there!

The bottom line here is that the less distraction (especially stress-inducing), the better. Keep paint and décor colors neutral, avoid bright lights, busy mobiles, and over-the-top decorations.

In our kiddo’s rooms, it can be important to get toys and books out of sight (and out of mind) so that they aren’t worried about losing playtime when they are sleeping. This FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real struggle especially for toddlers and preschoolers who have a tough time associating spaces with various roles.

In these cases, try putting books and toys in a closet, or even draping a blanket over the toy pile before the nap or bedtime routine to prevent temptation.


Tip 3: Prevent your sleep space from becoming your workspace

When working from home during stay at home and safer at home orders, it is super easy for boundaries to slip. It can take months, even years, to set firm and repeatable boundaries when working from home.

First, the laundry is calling your name as soon as you sit down to write that important email, and then the next thing you know… Your boss is contacting you at all hours of the day and night which impacts sleep, stress, and overall health.

One boundary that should be of top priority to uphold is keeping your work OUT OF YOUR SLEEP SPACE. When you are able to be clear about where you work and where you sleep, it will be easier for your brain to distinguish the two spaces. This also prevents working in bed, a heavy-hitting struggle for many during current times.

This tip applies to kiddos and teens who are doing schoolwork in their bedrooms. It is best (when possible) to find a separate room to study in. When that isn’t an option, bring in a chair from the kitchen and set up a workspace that is not on the bed!


Tip 4: When darkness falls

Making sure the blinds in your bedrooms are blocking out light should come next. It is hard to sleep when the sun is rising, and if you live on a busy street or have neighbors with bright lights, that can trigger a sleep hormone imbalance in the middle of the night.

This is of particular importance during the late spring and summer as early morning sunrises are more intense, and sunset is happening even later. Even with blackout shades or curtains, many sleep sanctuaries still are met by a “halo” of light around the window frame itself.

Though not disruptive to some, this light that is allowed to “creep in” early morning can certainly prevent a baby or toddler from connecting there fragile morning sleep cycles, especially around 5 am!


Tip 5: Temp check

Finally, set the thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees an hour before bedtime to make sure that your sleep space is feeling just right. If the members of your family have various “sweet spots” for sleep, consider the use of a fan or space heater to adjust temperatures to meet everyone’s needs.

If you have a tendency to rise too early in the morning, especially around 4 A.M., it may be a result of a biological temperature drop around this time in our bodies. If this is the case, having an automatic space heater in your room may be helpful as it will allow the room to stay the same temperature all night and may turn on just before your body temp drops and wakes you up.


Creating the Haven

You will be surprised at how implementing a few of these tips may improve the way you are feeling about the sleep spaces in your home. And like most things in life, the thoughts and feelings we have about a topic (even sleep) impact the results we have. Know that your family is capable of great sleep and calming sleep spaces!


Now, go move the laundry off your bed so that you can get some great sleep tonight!


Brittney Stefanic is a whole-family certified sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers®. As an enneagram 1 and recovering perfectionist, she gets that as busy mamas, creating the perfect sleep sanctuary for all bedrooms in the house can take the back seat. But as a sleep educator, Brittney believes in the power of teaching and loves to help families in meeting setting sleep goals. Brittney and her team love educating and support families around the world in finding sleep solutions through their customized sleep plans. You can follow the Sleeper Teachers® on Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook @sleeperteachers for access to their sleep tips + tricks and opportunities for free sleep Q&A sessions.