Make Your Bedroom a Temple of SleepWritten by Gavin Humphreys
Your bedroom should be a temple for sleep (and, of course, intimate time with your partner).
Quality sleep is essential for health, and achieving your hopes and dreams.
It is often the time when our subconscious comes up with the most original of ideas! Not only that, a well-rested mind is ready to take on all challenges.
Make this room a shrine to this magical part of your life. You will find that both your sleep and your love life will benefit.
Rethink the room wherein you sleep
Too many of our bedrooms are a clutter, badly organized, and full of unnecessary stuff. It clogs the mind with thoughts of a hundred different things, and we can’t relax.
Our sleep suffers.
Many studies have linked bad sleep to memory loss, depression, anxiety, and grumpiness. It also affects your social life.
I want you to take a step back and think of a temple - perhaps in a jungle, or on a mountain top. Imagine, as you enter it, what do you feel? Probably relaxed, peace, at one with the world. What are the sights and sounds around you? The smells? Does a light breeze caress your face?
It’s time to re-conceptualize your bedroom - try to channel that same feeling of calmness and tranquility so that when you enter your bedroom you feel as if you are entering The Temple of Sleep and Love.
I propose three columns as the central supports of The Temple. These are the Physical Space, the Atmosphere, and your Respect for the room:
The layout, and the things you keep in the bedroom, are very important to how you feel there. Take some time to consider the material environment.
Firstly, look at the amount of space you have.
Irrespective of the size of the room, you want to have space.
Make sure you have room to walk without tripping up (or having to mission-impossible slide against the wall). That’s the basic rule.
Remove any unnecessary furniture - minimalism is key. I am pretty clumsy, as are a lot of men, and will knock anything over that’s not glued down. The fewer things there are in the room, the more relaxed you can be that you can move freely.
Remove any broken items, too. This is a place to relax, so broken things, or things which have been glued together, don’t give you that peace.
If your bedroom is a temple, the bed is the holiest part. It’s the altar and the shrine.
Make sure there is space on three sides of the bed, with the headboard against a solid wall. It is central to the temple - not tucked away.
Being relaxed is important for a good night’s sleep - and part of that is rooted in your subconscious feeling of safety.
The position of the bed in the room is crucial for this. Back when we slept in caves, we would have been sure to sleep where we could see the whole cave, and that no bear was sleeping behind us...
You should be sleeping in a position where you have command of the room, especially the entrance. That way, if Yogi climbs through a window you’ll be able to react!
Keep tidy and clean
Have you ever seen a messy place of worship?
Minimize visual distractions and dust-gathering ornaments.
Take the time to declutter your room and clothes closet regularly. If there are fewer things in your room, and they are all nicely organized, you won’t be getting stressed looking for those cufflinks.
Declutter underneath your bed (only use for storage if absolutely necessary). This makes it easier to sweep or vacuum often.
No shoes inside your bedroom - always take them off outside. Go barefoot, or use slippers. This stops dirt being brought in and makes you aware that this is a holy place!
Talking of shoes, keep your footwear stored away. Best not to store them in the bedroom, if possible. Try to have a place for your shoes near the entrance to your apartment or house. Besides, you don’t want foot odor in your bedroom...
The air, and how your temple feels to be inside is a central pillar - even if you can’t see it. Engage all your senses and think about how to make your bedroom comfortable.
After a night’s sleep in a closed environment, bedrooms don’t always smell like roses!
Aerate - start your morning by opening the window, no matter the season. Get air flowing.
Use a gentle aroma, such as a scented candle, in order to add relaxing (or stimulating) smells to your room.
Temples often have incense burners, and why not your temple of sleep? But be careful not to make the room full of smoke and dust. The gentle effect of a ceramic diffuser (that candle/water/essential oils thing) is a good option!
Windows or balconies can help you feel connected to the world.
Natural light is important for you to be in harmony with the natural rhythms of waking and sleeping.
I’m a country boy, so I was used to no curtains and the windows open. The sun, along with the sound of birdsong, is the best natural alarm clock.
Since I’ve moved to the city - that changes things. Our cities and towns are filled with electric lights (and constant noise of traffic), which are terrible disruptions for sleep patterns.
Also, some of us have to work night-shifts, or enjoy a siesta in the afternoon. In these situations we have to create our own night - or at least imitate it.
The best way to do this is to buy thick curtains, even blackout curtains, or shutters. The pure darkness this offers us makes our bedroom the dark sanctuary that it needs to be.
They also help cut out some of the noise.
The science behind this says that we sleep best when we are exposed to plenty of bright light during the day - which gives us energy and increases alertness - and then cut out exposure to light (especially blue light) in the evening.
This includes cutting out exposure to artificial light before bed - from TVs, computer screens, games consoles, and our phones. Scientists advise a couple of hours of ‘down-time’ before sleep. For example, if you sleep at 11, try to turn off the last screen at 9pm. Do exercise, read a book, play a boardgame, chat with your partner.
My father would tell me about when he would go into his mother’s room in the morning. She slept with the window wide open all year round. Come the winter, her glass of water, which she always kept beside her bed, would have iced over with the cold.
In the Nordic countries they put babies outside in freezing temperatures to help them drift off.
It is totally natural, and arguably beneficial, for human beings to sleep in these conditions, although it doesn’t have to be extreme.
Try to keep the heating off at night. If you have a hot-water bottle or electric blanket, you can warm up the bed, but once you are in, let your body do the rest.
Make sure you are well wrapped up - there’s nothing worse than waking in the middle of the night because of the cold. A good duvet will keep the warmth of your body locked in.
On warm summer nights try to keep the room cool. Air Conditioning can give you a perfect temperature. It’s advised to set the AC to 60 to 67 Fahrenheit.
If you want to avoid electrical devices, there are alternatives.
Heavy curtains can help keep a room cool naturally. If you can get a breeze going through, it will chill things nicely. At night time, natural cotton or linen sheets will help.
You might also want to cover your mattress with a bamboo mattress topper - could be uncomfortable until you get used to it, but it is an amazing natural cooler.
In the desert I’ve found an electric humidifier is necessary for a good sleep. The opposite in the tropics - dehumidifiers help hugely.
Natural humidifying options include most plants, and leaving water on the windowsill to evaporate.
If you live in a humid area, research some plants which are natural dehumidifiers, such as the Boston Fern (which we have here in the Beckett Simonon office). There is also a method with rock salt you could look into.
It is all about keeping an atmosphere in the bedroom in which your body feels comfortable.
Try not to introduce unnatural chemicals to your bedroom.
Use non-toxic cleaning products.
Search out natural fibers for your bed, and bed-clothes, such as linen.
If you use candles and scents, try to ensure they are natural. For example, a paraffin-based candle, or one with chemical fragrances, will release toxins into the air. There are plenty of organic options that use natural constituents, such as beeswax.
If you live in the city, especially on a busy street, it might be worthwhile investing in an air purifier. Many plants are also natural air purifiers. Some might argue that both of these options are ‘bad feng shui,’ but I think we can all agree that it’s better than breathing in car fumes.
The final column to consider is yourself and bringing focus to your bedroom. How can you make changes in what you do, and the things you keep here, to make this space more honored?
Remember who the gods of this temple are - Sleep and Love.
Don’t allow things that do not relate to these gods. Keep your temple focused.
No books. You can keep the book you’re reading - but try to keep it in your bedside table when you’re not reading it. A bookshelf is a distraction; it disrupts the simplicity you need, as well as gathering dust.
No electrical equipment. TVs, computers, games consoles: get them out.
Anything else which is not necessary - high-school trophies, gym equipment, store them away, or find another place for them.
As I’ve mentioned, a controversial one is plants. Some people say they are ‘good energy’ others say they are ‘bad energy.’ You can make your own mind up - but if you have them, make sure they are well kept and healthy.
The centerpiece is the bed, surrounded by a space which will help you focus on sleep and time spent with your partner.
The bedtime ritual
In temples and holy places there are all kinds of rituals. When it’s time to go to sleep, develop your own routine.
Why not bow when you enter the space where you sleep? Over the top? Arguably, but it will separate the outerworld from the world in your bedroom.
Taking off your shoes is another way to do this.
Going to sleep, or at least to the bedroom, at the same time every night is a good start to your ritual.
You might enter the room, spend ten minutes meditating, cuddle and talk with your partner, be intimate with your partner, keep a daily journal (perhaps a gratitude journal or a challenge journal), read for half an hour.
Whatever makes you happy and helps you relax.
It’s worth noting that for some people it can be detrimental to read in bed, especially if you have insomnia. It distracts from that focus on sleep, and create an association between bed and being awake. You can always read, write in your journal, or do exercises, in another room and then make your way to bed when you feel sleepy.
Avoiding caffeine is highly recommended. A hot infusion before bed is what to go for!
By keeping a routine, you are not only giving sleep the respect it demands, but also conditioning your mind to prepare for sleep. Once you have a bedtime ritual that fits you, you will begin to sleep better and wake up more alert and ready for the day.
An aside: Gadgets
You don’t see many gadgets in a temple. Nevertheless, gadgets have become part of the paraphernalia of sleep in recent years.
For example, the Oura Ring (amongst other devices) is designed to study your sleep patterns. You can use items like this to work out when best to sleep and when to wake.
Cooling pads, or electric blankets, which can be programmed to give you exact temperatures through the night, are another popular tech.
You can download apps that play relaxing sounds of nature, or perhaps sleep meditation.
Use these at your discretion, but don’t let them become a necessity. Simplicity is the key to any temple.
Your temple; your holy place
Make your Temple of Sleep suit your personality.
If you live with somebody, discuss ideas with them and make a design that works for you both.
Everybody is different, so one person’s ideal sleep temple is not necessarily the next’s. Think about the options, plan, experiment, invest…
If you have to travel a lot, try to make your Temple wherever you lay your head. Keep that bedtime ritual.
Pleasant, comfortable sleep will make you feel better, think clearer, and approach the dawning day with a freshness that will affect all aspects of your life.
Have a good night, and sleep sound.