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Students sleep in all kinds of places: in residence, shared apartments, random couches, the occasional classroom. 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 loud roomies, wear ear plugs.”
—Jenna P., fourth-year undergraduate, Memorial University of Newfoundland

“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 undergraduate, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

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 undergraduate, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Lights out at a specified time and make sure your roommate has working headphones.”
—Micah M.-A., third-year undergraduate, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

“Always shut off alarms in a timely manner, don’t leave the lights on when you leave if your roomie is still sleeping, be quiet and courteous at all times. Don’t do things you would be annoyed at your roommate doing.”
—Hope K., third-year undergraduate, university withheld

Window treatment

Need a sleep cure? Try a window treatment

“Use thick curtains or blinds to block light.”
—Dean A., fourth-year undergraduate, University of Waterloo, Ontario

“Make the room as dark as possible. If that requires you to go out and buy curtains to put over the supplied blinds, I would highly recommend it.”
—Paige W., third-year undergraduate, Memorial University of Newfoundland

“Use small Velcro pads to keep the curtains in place and light from outdoors out.”
—Morgan P., second-year undergraduate, University of New Brunswick

Temperature & white noise

Fan for temperature control

Run a fan for temperature control and white noise.”
—Breanna B., third-year undergraduate, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

“Find a temperature where you’re not too hot with the covers on. Sometimes sleeping in a colder room can help you fall asleep faster. I don’t mean cold enough for icicles to form, just cool enough to where you’re comfortable. It even helps with utilities. ;)”
—Korrah B., third-year undergraduate, Queen’s University, Ontario

“Make sure you open your window and let the fresh flow of air in.”
—Abdul B., third-year undergraduate, SAIT Polytechnic, Alberta

Fan for white noise

White noise in the background always helps.”
—Marissa H., first-year graduate student, Georgian College, Ontario

“If you are sensitive to noise, consider using a white-noise machine, like a fan or air purifier.”
—Elizabeth G., third-year undergraduate, Humber College, Ontario

Décor & layout

Consider your décor and room design

“Keep your room tidy and welcoming (posters, decorated with your favourite colours, etc).”
—Natalie D., undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

“Just to make it a comfy space, somewhere you’re going to cool down that is not hectic. You want to be able to relax.”
—Brittany A., first-year undergraduate, Fleming College, Ontario

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

“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 undergraduate, name & university withheld

“Put your bed on the highest level. It makes you reluctant to get out of bed, and it makes others reluctant to sit on your bed. And not to mention that it makes you feel like you are on a throne. Second, get a lofting kit and attach it onto your bed and then put a ‘privacy sheet’ over it. This allows for privacy if you need to study, if you want alone time, or even if you just do not feel like being bothered with your roommate.”
—Jeremy B., third-year undergraduate, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

“Sleep with your head in the corner of the room, so you are able to turn away from distractions.”
—Male fourth-year undergraduate, name & university 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 undergraduate, Portland State University, Oregon

Lighting

Light touch: See these shining examples of watts being saved

Turn off any lights and any devices that are on, so you have no distractions and get to sleep faster.”
—Trevor V., first-year undergraduate, Fleming College, Ontario

“Overhead LED lights found in dorms can be harsh, so I like to kill the overhead lights and switch on a lamp or a string of fairy lights.”
—Rachel B., fourth-year undergraduate, University of Lethbridge, Alberta

Learn which light is best for you. Some need complete darkness because they have trouble getting to sleep; others need their curtains open to wake them up in the morning.”
—First-year undergraduate, name & university withheld

“Put tape over any little lights, like on surge protectors.”
—Stephanie S., fourth-year undergraduate, Northern Illinois University

Before adding lighting to a residence hall room, check your fire code for restrictions.

No clutter

Put away your physical and metaphorical clutter

“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 Polytechnic, Alberta

Simplicity is key. Too much clutter is stressful and harder to keep clean.”
—Kailey W., first-year, University of Guelph, Ontario

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 undergraduate, name & university withheld

“Don’t bring baggage to bed with you—meaning clear your mind of worries.”
—Male fourth-year undergraduate, name & university withheld

Your bed

Make your bed comfortable and inviting

“First and foremost, keep your room clean and clutter-free. I like to have my room feeling open with as much space to move as possible.”
—Marci G., second-year undergraduate, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia

“Make it as cozy as possible. I brought a mattress pad and a mattress topper, and they made a huge difference.”
—Kyla X., first-year undergraduate, University of Windsor, Ontario

Clean the sheets. It works 100%. It will feel less sticky.”
—Brian W., second-year undergraduate, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia

Nightstand makeover

Make over your nightstand

“Get a sleeping mask and ear plugs!”
—Leona L., fourth-year undergraduate, Mount Royal University, Alberta

“Use an eye mask if needed. You can find them at the dollar store.”
—Robyn P., first-year undergraduate, Fleming College, Ontario

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

“If you are struggling to sleep, a book or magazine will keep your bed ‘screen-free’ while satisfying your evening entertainment needs.”
—Onyx B., second-year undergraduate, Colorado College

“Get a [scent] diffuser and diffuse an essential oil like lavender before bed.”
—Martina W., second-year undergraduate, Seneca College, Ontario

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.

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

“Turn on some calming music very low to help you get to sleep.”
—Megan M., third-year graduate student, St. Clair College, Ontario

“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 undergraduate, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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

Audible book reader.”
—Buffi N., second-year undergraduate, Pittsburg State University, Pennsylvania

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

Work zone

Work zone: Preserve the separation of work and sleep

Never bring your work to bed with you.”
—Justin N., second-year undergraduate, University of Regina, Saskatchewan

“Use your bed only for sleep.”
—Tymoteusz S., second-year undergraduate, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario

“I find that separating my sleep area from my study area helps me sleep better and focus better. If my desk is facing away from my bed, I’m not tempted to sleep [when I should be studying]. I also try to avoid studying in bed so that I only associate my bed with sleeping.”
—Amanda M., fourth-year undergraduate, University of Waterloo, Ontario

Recharge

Recharge: Try electronic engineering

(It’s easier than you think)

“Keep your computer powered off at night, use F.lux [a light-dimming app] on it, and keep your cell phone away from your bed so you don’t stay up scrolling.”
—Ryan R., second-year undergraduate, University of Alberta

“Limit the use of technology or light [in the] 30 minutes before bed, as this will aid your brain in recognizing that it is time for sleep.”
—Name & university withheld

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

Do not put a TV in your room. Try to [keep] your computer out of reach from your bed so you’re less tempted to fall asleep using your computer.”
—Rebecca B., second-year graduate student, University of Alberta

Light control for iOS devices

+ f.lux
+ screen dimmer

Light control for Android devices

+ Twilight 
+ screen dimmer

Bedtime routine

Cherish your nighttime routine

“I organize my bedroom every night before bed. It’s a great way to wind down before bed. It allows me to make sure I have everything I need to sleep soundly!”
—Second-year graduate student, name & university withheld

“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

“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 undergraduate, name & university withheld

“It helps me to relax knowing I’ll be waking up to a tidy room that’s ready for the morning. I make sure my keys are by the door, my bag is packed for the next day, and I usually have my breakfast planned out as well. Just a few minutes at night help me have stress-free mornings.”
—Kim G., third-year undergraduate, Santa Clara University, California

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 undergraduate, Temple University, Pennsylvania


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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.