When asked to envision your ideal bedroom, many probably picture a minimalist, uncluttered space with crisp, white linens. Few probably dream of a Dorito-strewn quilt surrounded by a clutter of dirty socks and toys your kid dragged in. Just the thought sounds exhausting, but is it physical? Do you sleep better in a clean bedroom?
We already know you sleep better in a clean bed. As reported by Good Housekeeping, a survey conducted by The National Sleep Foundation found that seven out of 10 people say they sleep better in a clean, comfortable bed. This isn't so surprising, as who likes to sleep in a dirty tangle of sheets? But what about the rest of the bedroom? Can the cleanliness of the actual room affect your sleep?
I spoke with Dr. Nicole Moshfegh, a clinical psychologist and the author of The Book of Sleep: 75 Strategies to Relieve Insomnia, and she says yes, our surrounding environment can have an impact: "Sleeping in a clean room versus a dirty room may affect sleep for some. While some people are naturally good sleepers, and a messy room may not bother them or disrupt their sleep, others — especially those who are more prone to experiencing insomnia and/or anxiety — may experience a dirty room as stressful. Too much stress and/or anxiety can, in turn, impact our ability to sleep as our fight-or-flight system kicks in, causing a cascade of reactions in our body that eventually sends a signal to our brain that it's time to be awake and alert. Therefore, the more we can associate our bed and bedroom with rest and relaxation, the better sleep we will receive."
Makes sense to me. If I'm trying to tuck in for the night and there's a pile of dirty laundry on the floor, or my nightstand is a mess of papers, my brain is definitely going to be anxiously trying to factor in: 1. Scheduling: When do I have time to do the laundry tomorrow? 2. Worry: Is there anything important in that mess of papers? and 3. Guilt: Why am I such a slob/failure as a mother, and oh, my god, where is the chewable raspberry melatonin? I'm never going to find it in this mess...
So yeah, I can see where — especially for stressed out parents whose minds are always in overdrive anyway — going to bed in a room that has a sense of order and calm makes for a more relaxing bedtime hour. And if you bed-share? Hoo boy. Imagine how much more stressful bedtime is when you have to step over entire piles of last year's Christmas decorations you still need to put in the crawl space.
Another benefit of keeping the bedroom clean? Your nose will thank you. Says Moshfegh: "People with dust allergies may find that a dirty room can disrupt their sleep by causing them to wake up from constant sneezing, coughing, or itching at night, so it's a good idea for people in this scenario to regularly clean their room as well."
If you do find you're struggling to relax and get to sleep at night, Moshfegh has a few other pro-tips for creating an ideal atmosphere for slumber: "If a bedroom is not dark enough, whether it's light coming from outside a window or if various devices emit light inside our bedroom, it can delay the production of melatonin in our body, the hormone that cues our brain that it is time to sleep. Similarly, if our bedroom is too noisy or hot, it can also disrupt our sleep. This is why keeping our bedroom temperature on the cooler side (somewhere in the mid 60-degree Fahrenheit range is ideal) and trying to eliminate or drown out noises can aid us in sleeping soundly throughout the night."
So get yourself a sound machine — and put away the laundry already.
Dr. Nicole Moshfegh, clinical psychologist and the author of The Book of Sleep: 75 Strategies to Relieve Insomnia