Reducing clutter in the bedroom can lead to better sleep for you and your family
Do you or your family struggle to get to sleep? Or wake up still feeling tired? The reason could be clutter in your bedroom. Improve sleep by decluttering!
The effect of clutter on sleep quality
Researchers have found a direct correlation between poor sleep and high levels of clutter in one’s sleeping environment.
Cortisol is a hormone produced in response to stress. It is released into the bloodstream during stressful situations to help regulate the body’s levels of sugar, salt and fluids. Cortisol levels are typically highest in the morning and generally drop throughout the day. Levels of cortisol are lower in the evening to help us maintain healthy sleeping patterns.
However, clutter in our homes and bedrooms can prevent our body’s cortisol levels from naturally declining throughout the day.
Our brain interprets visual stimuli as tasks that need to be completed. Even if we might ignore the clutter on a conscious level because it’s been there for a while, on an unconscious level our brain is registering it as a job to be completed (even if there is no task to complete!) Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for you to retreat to at the end of the day and not another source of stress. We spend one-third of our lives sleeping so dealing with the clutter in our bedrooms is a sensible starting point.
If the clutter in your home has been consciously or unconsciously causing you stress before bed, it makes it harder to wind down and even prevents you from getting the deep sleep your body and mind requires when in bed.
What to declutter from your bedroom to improve sleep quality
1. Declutter your clothes
Clothes tend to be the biggest category of items which we store in our bedrooms. Decluttering these first therefore generally has the biggest impact on improving your sleep. Work through each category of clothes at a time to make it more manageable e.g. underwear, socks, tops, trousers, dresses etc. Pick up each item and decide whether you love it and wear it. You may love some pieces, for example, ones you wore when you were younger or in a different job. However, consider whether they are reflecting the image of yourself that you want to project now. You can donate to charity any clothes which are in good condition (make sure they are clean). Charities such as the British Heart Foundation, TRAID and Little Lives UK which collects and drops off your unwanted items to charity for free for you. Other clothes can be donated to your local textile bank which recycles the materials.
2. Remove tech devices
The competition for our attention from technology is everywhere. It leads to a form of digital clutter which has the same effect on our brains as physical clutter. How often do you stare at tablets, smart phones or computer screens before you go to bed? Looking at these devices keeps your brain alert, making it difficult to fall asleep. The blue light emitted by screens also restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.
You can improve sleep by decluttering anything with a screen from your bedroom. You will be able to properly switch off and feel more peaceful and calm before you go to bed. Remove electronic devices such as laptops and phones from your bedroom so you can wind down properly. Shut down your laptop at night and if you want to be contactable by phone put it outside your bedroom on loud but having it outside of your bedroom will make a huge difference. By doing all this, you will signal to your brain that once you lie down, it’s time for nothing else but rest.
Improve sleep by decluttering any paperwork from your bedroom. You need to create a boundary from your work life and to-do list when you step into your bedroom. Seeing bills, lists and papers that need to be dealt creates unnecessary stress before you sleep.
4. Artwork and photos
Try to avoid artwork in your bedroom that is chaotic or intense to look at as that can stimulate your brain too much when really want it to be calming down to get ready for sleep! Choose artwork with soothing colours and peaceful scenes. Avoid having it hanging over your head if you have any worries about it falling on you in the night – you don’t need the added stress.
If you have photos in your bedroom, make sure that they make you feel happy and peaceful when you look at them. Remove any that make you feel irritated or involve high-octane activities!
5. Storage under the bed
In an ideal world, we would keep the space under our beds clear to feel as peaceful as possible. However, in most homes this is a really valuable storage space. The key is to utilise this space effectively. Remove any items which you no longer need then organise like items with like. A good use of this space is for bed linen and seasonal clothing which can be packed in vacuum pack bags to reduce the amount of space they take up.
6. Surface clutter
It’s key to find a home for all those items clogging up the surfaces in your bedroom. It may be that they should “live” elsewhere e.g. your kitchen or hallway. Surface clutter is the worst visual stimuli for your brain and contributes to feelings of stress whether conscious or unconscious.
7. Piles of books
My mum is a librarian so my brother and I were lucky to grow up surrounded by books. I therefore don’t agree with some schools of thought that bookshelves full of books are a bad thing! However, piles of books still to read piled up next to your bed is just another thing on your mental “to do” list and can interfere with falling to sleep. Limit yourself to one book at a time and dedicate some space on a shelf or bookcase for books that you are going to read. Our brains like order so try to not to cram books onto shelves either.
Improving sleep by decluttering your bedroom is simple yet effective. If you have decluttered thoroughly and still can’t sleep, then explore what else may be causing it. At least you will have ruled a cluttered bedroom out of the running!