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Students sleep in all kinds of places: shared apartments, random couches, the occasional classroom or office. Some of those spots work far better than others, in part because the length and quality of our sleep has a lot to do with our immediate environment. We asked you how you make your bedroom into a sleep-happy space. For students’ tips, click on each element.

Roommate peace plan

Negotiate the rules with your roommate

“If you have a roommate, be sure to let them know how you feel about noise when sleeping. Some people like to fall asleep with the TV on and some people can’t stand it, so you have to communicate what you want your dorm/bedroom environment to be like.”
—Kathleen S., second-year student, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

Lock the door so no one busts into your room. Inform everyone in your home that you’re about to go to sleep, so they’re not too loud.”
—Shyericka T., online student, Georgia Southwestern State University

“If you sleep next to someone, don’t be afraid to use separate blankets.”
—Johanna S., second-year graduate student, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota

Set a time that you and your roommate will transition into sleep mode and then any other work must be done out of the room.”
—Ethan G., second-year student, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Window treatment

Need a sleep cure? Try a window treatment

“Get thick curtains to block out the light from street lamps, neighbors, and the like.”
—Joseph A., second-year student, University of the District of Columbia Community College

“Block out the windows with dark trash bags to keep the sun and heat out.”
—Chad S., second-year graduate student, Southern Illinois University

“Use curtains or sheets to cover windows to ensure darkness in the room during sleep.”
—Jessie L., second-year graduate student, Western Illinois University

Temperature & white noise

Fan for temperature control

“White noise and cold air from a fan makes a great sleep zone.”
—Christi G., fifth-year student, Tulsa Community College

Open a window for some fresh air, even in winter.”
—Nicholas F., third-year graduate student, Humboldt State University, California

“Keep it cool. Your body temperature needs to drop before you can fall asleep; it also makes the covers feel good.”
—Abigail P., second-year student, Wake Technical Community College, North Carolina

Fan for white noise

“I use white noise. I have a loud fan on every night to help me fall asleep and stay asleep.”
—Carrie L., second-year graduate student, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

“Sleep with a fan to drown out outside noise.”
—Laith W., certificate program, University of Delaware

Décor & layout

Consider your décor and room design

“Turn it into a comfortable and homey place for yourself. I enjoy surrounding my bed with pictures from home so I feel comforted.”
—Abigail A., fourth-year student, Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania 

Organize the furniture in a way that makes you feel comfortable. You want your room to feel like your room. I like mine with the bed against the wall and facing the window so I can fall asleep/wake up looking out the window, and with open space so I don’t feel all penned up.”
—Chad A., fourth-year graduate student, Clemson University, South Carolina

“Cleaning out your room is a good way to make it more peaceful. Paint the color of your walls a light color, such as baby blue to make it look relaxing.”
—Kyle B., second-year student, Pasadena City College

“Look into Feng Shui. I used to think it was a joke but I have a close friend who practices it in her apartment, and every time I walk into her place it feels so comfortable and put together.”
—Female fourth-year student, name & school withheld

“Sleep with your head in the corner of the room, so you are able to turn away from distractions.”
—Male fourth-year student, name & school withheld

“Have a ‘quick stash’ area next to the bed. If it’s too cold you can snag an extra blanket, too hot you can put the blanket in a safe spot. Often getting up and fixing the problem can be too much, so we suffer through the night.”
—Rebecca J., fourth-year student, Portland State University, Oregon

Lighting

Light touch: See these shining examples of watts being saved

“Make sure that all electronic lights are turned off. Artificial light can affect the circadian rhythm and mess up a good night’s sleep.”
—Male second-year student, name & school withheld

“A lamp that has yellowish/red light helps me sleep. Bright fluorescent lights keep you from getting sleepy.”
—Heather H., third-year student, University of California, Irvine

“Have a couple of lamps in your room to lessen the harshness of the overhead light.”
—Maria H., fourth-year student, Elon University, North Carolina

“Put up fairy lights/Christmas tree lights instead. They make for a better atmosphere all together.”
—Female second-year student, name & school withheld

Cover all light including night lights, TVs, and cable boxes.”
—Dawn G., third-year student, San Bernardino Valley College, California

Before adding lighting to your room or apartment, check your fire code for restrictions.

No clutter

Put away your physical and metaphorical clutter

“If you’re surrounded by clutter there’s a good chance your mind will be cluttered as well, which can make it hard to relax and sleep.”
—Grace N., third-year student, Humboldt State University, California

“Keep only the bare necessities, like a computer, a single desk, an extra shelf (too many will just create more clutter to clean later).”
—Ramish R., second-year graduate student, SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology)

Put away anything that you would be tempted to use instead of sleeping. For example, put away your laptop in a case or drawer.”
—Male third-year student, name & school withheld

“Always keep it clean because a clustered environment fosters a clustered mind.”
—Cooper B., third-year graduate student, Park University, Missouri

“Having a clean place to relax is very important to be able to sleep. I’ve noticed that when my room gets a little out of hand it stresses me out.”
—Ivette V., first-year graduate student, California State University, San Bernardino

“Get your mind ready for sleep by focusing on one thing. It can be your breathing, doing a crossword puzzle, or reading. This concentration helps keep out anxieties of the day and prepares your mind for rest.”
—Anna Marie M., fourth-year graduate student, University at Buffalo

Your bed

Make it so you want to go to bed with yourself

“Make your bed super comfy! Get nice sheets, a foam top, and down comforter.”
—Kat Z., online student, Montgomery College, Maryland

“A comfortable-looking bed sets up your subconscious to want to relax and sleep.”
—Matthew B., second-year student, University of Dallas, Texas

Make your bed every morning. There is no better feeling than pulling back the covers when you’re ready for bed.”
—Hollie M., fifth-year student, Missouri Southern State University

“Make sure your bed is cleaned off completely before trying to sleep in it. It just works better. Laptops do not snuggle well.”
—Sal I., second-year student, Michigan Technological University

“A variety of pillows and warm blankets are essential for me so that I’m comfortable and can adjust my pillows to my preference each night. I’ve had my mattress pad for over a year now and I don’t know what I would do without it. It really makes a big difference.”
—Rajeev I., fourth-year student, Drexel University, Pennsylvania

“No studying, texting, or eating in your bed. Use your bed solely for sleeping.”
—Jennifer U., fourth-year student, Fort Hays State University, Kansas

Nightstand makeover

Make over your nightstand

“If all else fails, try a sleeping mask and the sound of ocean waves.”
—Karalyn F., fourth-year student, University of West Georgia

“If you can’t deal with ‘college noise,’ get some earplugs!”
—Casey V., fourth-year graduate student, Roger Williams University, Rhode Island

Noise-canceling headphones are a must if you have noisy neighbors, especially upstairs neighbors with noisy feet.”
—Matthew C., fifth-year student, Humboldt State University, California

“If you have trouble sleeping, read until you fall asleep! Keep a book by the side of your bed but not textbooks, schoolwork, or debris. If you have a pet, let them cuddle you.”
—Female graduate student, name & school withheld

Scents like lavender [may] help relaxation and promote a longer sleep.”
—Sofia L., fourth-year student, Western Oregon University

Listen up

Now listen up

Many people fall asleep more easily when they listen to music, guided meditation or relaxation, audio books, or white noise apps. This habit calls for discipline around electronic gadgets. Consider using an old iPod or other device without internet access so you won’t be tempted to roam or surf, or place your audio gadget on the other side of the room.

“I like to meditate in bed before I fall asleep. There are meditation podcasts for sleep, and I always sleep very soundly and wake up happy when I use them.”
—Andrea D., third-year graduate student, Humboldt State University, California

Noise control: Music will either send you off to dreamland or ruin a perfectly good night’s sleep.”
—Male fourth-year student, name & college withheld

“A slow beat or blues music can do wonders for getting sound sleep.”
—Nurudeen K., fourth-year graduate student, SAIT Polytechnic (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology)

Soft music playing quietly helps me make my room a sleep-friendly zone.”
—Jared D., third-year online student, Algonquin College

“Play light classical music if there’s a lot of noise in your house.”
—Second-year community college student, name & school withheld

“I have an iHome that plays rain sounds while I sleep to help me relax and not focus on my internal thoughts.”
—Danielle C., fourth-year student, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

“Listen to ASMR to fall asleep.”
—Cecilia P., third-year student, California State University, San Bernardino

+ ASMR app
+ Free audio books
+ Free guided mindfulness
+ Meditation & white noise app

Work zone

Work zone: Preserve the separation of work and sleep

Separate your work/study space from your sleeping space.”
—Rebecca S., second-year student, University of Wisconsin Colleges Online

“Do not do homework on your bed or anywhere near where you sleep. Instead, do work at a desk, or in the living room, or even outside. This is because, over time, your brain will associate your bed as the homework area and not the sleeping area. This may make it harder for one to fall asleep and to get the needed REM sleep.”
—Kerry C., third-year student, Wake Technical Community College, North Carolina

“Your brain associates tasks with places. Doing something stressful in the bedroom creates a stressful association with the bedroom. It also makes doing that work harder because your body is telling you to sleep instead.”
—Glen B., fourth-year student, Santa Clara University, California

Recharge

Recharge: Try electronic engineering

(It’s easier than you think)

“Put your cell phone on airplane mode, far away from your bed.”
—Jeff P., fourth-year student, Saint Mary’s University, Nova Scotia

“Do not put your computer/laptop next to your bed. If possible, put it across or facing away from your bed.”
—Truc N.-P., fourth-year student, San Jose State University, California

Don’t have a TV in your room.”
—Caelen C., second-year graduate student, University at Buffalo

“On my smartphone and laptop I use programs that ‘remove’ the blue light emitted from electronic devices. This blue light disrupts your melatonin level, which also makes it harder to fall asleep.”
—Amber M., third-year student, The Boston Conservatory, Massachusetts

Turn the electronics off one hour before you sleep. The light and activity from being on an electronic device can actually keep you up because your brain is so active.”
—Athena P., first-year student, Red Rocks Community College, Colorado

“Get all of the distractions away from your bed. Plug in your phone, iPods, computers, etc. across the room so you are not tempted to use them while lying down. Also, do not put a TV in your bedroom. Sleep is a wonderful thing and you want to get every bit as you can.”
—Erika H., first-year graduate student, Husson University, Maine

Light control for iOS devices

+ f.lux 
+ screen dimmer

Light control for Android devices

+ Twilight
+ screen dimmer

Bedtime routine

Cherish your nighttime routine

“I always make my bed before leaving my bedroom in the morning. That way my bed is only unmade when I am trying to sleep. It’s a tiny ritual, but the act of climbing into a bed that hasn’t been lying unmade all day feels like an official beginning to a night’s sleep.”
—Anne H., third-year graduate student, Emory University, Georgia

“Try to have a bedtime routine if you have trouble getting to sleep. Creating this schedule can help your body and brain.”
—Ed W., second-year student, Mount Wachusett Community College, Massachusetts

“As far as my bedtime routine: I like to shower and brush my teeth, set my alarm on my phone, jump into bed, and read a magazine or book. Once I begin to feel sleepy (usually about 15 minutes), I turn off the bedside lamp and go to sleep.”
—Male second-year graduate student, name & school withheld

“Create a regimen when prepping yourself to sleep. For example, I fluff my pillows and spray my bed with calming fragrances such as lavender.”
—Female student, name & school withheld

Work out your problems before going to bed so you don’t stay up for two hours just thinking.” [If your worries tend to end up in bed with you, keep a pen and notebook on your night stand; writing them down can help release your mind.]
—Karen S., second-year student, Temple University, Pennsylvania

“My bedroom is my office too, so it’s hard to separate school-zone from bed-zone. An hour or so before bedtime, I clear the clutter off my bed, and I turn off overhead lights and electronics. That way it starts to feel more like a bedroom. It also helps if I read a non-school book in bed to get my head out of the computer and out of school-zone before going to sleep.”
—Elizabeth G., second-year student, Front Range Community College, Colorado

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Joanna Carmona is communications coordinator at the National Patient Safety Foundation. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Student Health 101. She has also edited collegiate textbooks for Cengage Learning and creating language learning materials for the US Department of Defense, libraries, and other educational institutions. Her BA in Spanish is from the University of New Hampshire.