10 Tips to De-Stress Your Bedroom and Get a Better Night’s Sleep

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated November 29, 2021
Person waking up from night’s sleep
Photo: Big blue / Adobe Stock

Ditch the VOCs to catch some Zzzs

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Your bedroom should be a sanctuary, free from distractions or irritants (both physical and mental). If your sleep space hasn’t felt as clean, comfortable, and healthy as you’d like, and you find yourself losing more shut-eye than you’re getting, it might be time to ditch the toxic chemicals and chase out the toxic energy.

1. Ditch the Devices

It’s always tempting to send a few emails right before bed to get ahead of the next day of work, but doing so can zap your body’s ability to produce melatonin, a hormone that influences our sleep-wake cycles. The blue light from our phones that tricks our brains is also found in tablets and TVs, so to de-stress your space, try reading during the last 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. 

You can also charge your devices in a separate room and rely on an old-school alarm clock to get you up in the A.M. If you really can’t put down your iPhone, look into anti-blue light glasses, which will reduce your exposure.

2. Buy Eco-and-Body-Friendly Bedding

You should know what your bedding is made from, as many manufacturers use potentially-harmful materials.

Mattresses

Some mattresses can release volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, from the polyurethane foam used in the mattress. When we sleep, our body heat can increase these emissions. That said, CertiPUR-US, which tests and certifies foam mattress VOCs based on regulations set by the EPA, CPSC, and other governmental bodies, found that several tested mattresses released VOCs below the significant risk level set by these agencies, though we don’t fully know the long-term effects of each individual compound. For children, it’s a different story: because of their smaller size and the increased time spent in bed, these VOCs might be harmful

If you are worried about VOCs, invest in a mattress made with cotton, wool, or natural latex as opposed to polyurethane. If you want a foam mattress, make sure to let it air out for three days before sleeping on it. In addition, research companies whose mattresses carry the Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX label, which states that their mattress materials have been tested for harmful substances. The Global Organic Textile Standard label is another one to look out for—it certifies mattresses made with a minimum of 70% organic materials. If you’re on a budget and a new mattress isn’t in the cards, you can buy a mattress topper made from less harmful materials.

Linens

Just like mattresses, sheets, comforters, quilts, and coverlets can all carry the OEKO-TEX and Global Organic Textile Standard labels if you’re worried about your bedding containing formaldehyde or other potentially harmful materials. In addition, organic cotton or eucalyptus is grown without pesticides and can be an excellent choice for your linens.

Pillows

The filling in pillows is frequently made with materials that offgas in a similar fashion to mattresses and are environmentally harmful (polyfill, for instance, is petroleum-based). If that worries you, buy pillows made with organic materials such as buckwheat, kapok, or natural latex.

3. Invest in an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are excellent at removing dust, smoke, and pollen in your bedroom, all of which can be allergy and asthma triggers. The purifier can only remove pollutants floating in the air, though; mites and mold often fall to the ground too quickly for the purifier to filter them out. Make sure to purchase one that is capable of handling the size of your bedroom and to replace the filters regularly.

4. Use Plant-Based Cleaners

Some conventional all-purpose cleaners contain chemicals such as ammonia, sodium hypochlorite, and trisodium phosphate; research has shown these ingredients to irritate the skin, nose, eyes, and throat. In addition, they are harmful to people and pets if consumed in any way. 

Consider swapping out these cleaners for ones made with plants; you can also save money and make your own cleaning solution by mixing together one-half a teaspoon of baking soda, 2 teaspoons of borax, one-half a teaspoon of liquid soap, and 2 cups of hot water.

5. Clean Often

Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is key to keeping pollutants and irritants out of your bedroom. Make sure to wash your bedding in hot water once a week, clean the floors, and wipe down all surfaces that might be gathering dust.

6. Institute a No-Shoes Policy

Shoes are meant to protect our feet from dirt, debris, and bacteria outside, and unless you’re hosing down your shoes every time you come into the house, you’re tracking that grime—which might include E. coli or pesticides—inside. 

Take off your shoes before you enter the home and place them on a rack or in a basket to prevent anything icky from getting in your home or bedroom, and also cut down on the amount of grime you need to clean off your floors.

7. Block Out Light

Closed blinds in bedroom at home
Photo: Bonsales / Adobe Stock

Natural light is wonderful for our moods when we’re awake, but most people are sensitive to any kind of light when they are sleeping. To get your optimal eight hours each night, invest in blackout curtains (which will also help you save on energy!) or buy a high-quality sleep mask.

8. Block Out Sounds, Too

Some people are not only light-sensitive, they’re also sound-sensitive. Or, if you live in an urban environment, you might find the sound of traffic and passers-by to be distracting. 

A white noise machine will produce consistent soothing background sounds—like water running, thunderstorms, or fire crackling—that block out disruptive sounds that keep us awake and restless.

9. Repaint

House paint can also release VOCs. Paint doesn’t release VOCs forever—the chemicals dissipate over time—so if your house was painted over five years ago, you can paint over with a fresh coat of no- or low-VOC paint. 

If you want to completely eliminate the source of VOCs, however, you should hire a local painting professional to remove the old paint and replace it with a low VOC option. If your home is older, a professional is absolutely necessary for this project, as you don’t know if your existing paint contains lead.

10. Sleep Naked (Or at Least in Something Comfy)

It’s a bold suggestion, but sleeping naked can allow your body temperature to drop quicker, which signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep. It also keeps our body temperature stable throughout the evening, helping us stay asleep. 

If a birthday suit is not your preferred pajama choice, consider organic, comfortable clothing without tight cuffs or collars. Cotton is extremely breathable, while silk is a thermoregulator, keeping us cool when it’s hot, and hot when it's chilly.

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