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When we think of bedrooms we tend to picture cozy retreats; private hideaways from the cares of the world.
If we’re not careful though, things start to creep into our sanctuaries, and those cozy retreats can become extensions of the very world we’re trying to catch a break from.
Some of that is just life; we don’t live in showrooms or catalogs. But when it’s time to draw the hard line here are five things to definitely plan on keeping out of your room.
1 – Television
If you want to keep your bedroom a haven of rest, having a TV in there isn‘t doing you any favors. The first obvious problem is that you risk getting sucked into what you’re watching and staying up later than you’d planned. Also, aside from the odd white-noise program, TV shows aren’t designed to bore you to sleep. When you switch on the evening news you’ve literally invited crime, politics, natural disasters, and the tension associated with them right into your bed. Sweet dreams.
And on another note, if you and your partner are both in bed and you’re not ready to fall asleep do you really want to watch TV instead of snagging the opportunity for an intimate moment?
2 – Work
Does this one really warrant an explanation? It’s impossible to rest when you haven’t left the office. So leave your laptop and briefcase in the entryway closet, and resist the urge to check your email one last time, or tie up any loose ends before you close your eyes. You can keep a small notebook next to your bed in case you think of something you CANNOT forget to do first thing in the morning. Jot down a note and go back to sleep.
3 – Social Media
I’m not talking about the tendency to over-share behind the perceived anonymity of a screen. That could be its own article. I’m talking about when we’re too tired to stay up, so we switch off the TV, brush our teeth, and pad down the hall to climb into bed. Then if we’re not asleep in 3.2 seconds we think we’ll just pop on Facebook and see if So-and-So has posted any pictures of her vacation.
Then we spend the next three hours getting hopped up on blue light and information, and when we do finally fall asleep we do so fitfully and dream that we’ve overslept our alarms. Just don’t.
4 – Great Books
Hear me out. I love books almost as much as I love my children. But opening a good book at bedtime is almost a guarantee that I’ll be staying up until I turn the last page. For bedtime reading stick with something not-too riveting, like a how-to book, or if it has to be narrative, a collection of short stories or essays. You want something you can either easily put down, or finish in about half an hour. Avoid anything that gets you stewing on world problems or work.
I’d also avoid any audio books unless you can set a sleep timer. I admit the smooth professional narration puts me right out, but I find myself waking briefly over and over while the recording plays on, until finally, I surface enough to turn it off.
5 – Pets
When we first got our dog I was fairly set on training her to sleep in a crate, or at least curled up in a cozy dog bed in the mud room. Unfortunately, I married a 225 pound teddy bear, who couldn’t stand to hear her puppy cries in the night. I have to admit there is something super sweet about cuddling up with a soft warm puppy. However, that seven pound ball of wiggly softness turned into a smelly, dirty, seventy pound DOG, who while she has learned to sleep under (instead of on) the bed, still wakes me at least once a night with weird sleep-howls, ear scratching, or needing to be let out. It’s like sleeping with a perpetual two-year old.
And on the topic of two-year olds, my best advice is: It’s only a problem if it’s a problem for you! I’m not even going to attempt to advise you against having kids in your room. I find people generally have good reasons for their choices concerning where children sleep.
I know I slept better if they were in arm’s reach when mine were babies. But like that snuggly little puppy, they grew, and now they know that they have to sleep in their own beds.
So if you feel well-rested, and happy sharing the space, co-sleep on! But if you find you’re not sleeping as well as you’d like it may be time to think about getting Junior transitioned to his own room. Totally up to you, and no judgment here!
Again, I know there are extenuating circumstances, and the occasional good reason to bring your phone to bed, or fire off a quick e-mail before you hit the sack, but most of the time you’ll be better rested and more ready to face each day if you work to keep the bedroom a restful sanctuary instead of bringing the chaos of the outer world in with you.