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Students sleep in all kinds of places: residence halls, 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 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, college withheld

Window treatment

Need a sleep cure? Try a window treatment

“Purchase blackout curtains. They are extremely effective. Once you close your bedroom door, everything becomes pitch black.”
—Alexander S., recent graduate, Florida International University

“Block most or all of the sunlight coming through your window(s). This can be done with a black fleece blanket. It’s easy and inexpensive.”
—Male fourth-year undergraduate, name & college withheld

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

“Sleep with socks on, and keep your room slightly cooler than the rest of the house.”
—Mark P., first-year student, Eastern College Fredericton, New Brunswick

“Control the temperature with AC and the heater or fans.”
—Thiago A, third-year undergraduate, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Fan for white noise

“Get a fan or a white noise machine! As a light sleeper I often find dorm sleeping difficult, but the noise from my fan and white noise apps help me a ton!”
—Female third-year undergraduate, name & college withheld

“In my sophomore year my roommate and I used a fan every night. She wanted it to keep the room cool (that also helps greatly with sleep), but even when she wasn’t there I would turn it on because I was so used to it. Now even at home I use a fan. It doesn’t have to be loud, just enough to help sleep.”
—Samantha M., third-year undergraduate, Husson University, Maine

Décor & layout

Consider your décor and room design

“Decorate with calming colors; blues and yellows, not bright and exciting colors. It helps to relax you as you walk into your room…Your sanctuary.”
—Sarah F., second-year undergraduate, Trinity University, Texas

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 & college 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 & college 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


Light touch: See these shining examples of watts being saved

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

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

“Don’t use the overhead lighting in your dorm. Put up fairy lights/Christmas tree lights instead. They make for a better atmosphere all together.”
—Female second-year undergraduate, name & college 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

“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 undergraduate, 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, 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 undergraduate, name & college withheld

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

Your bed

Make it so you want to go to bed with yourself

“A comfortable-looking bed sets up your subconscious to want to relax and sleep.”
—Matthew B., second-year undergraduate, 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 undergraduate, 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 undergraduate, 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 undergraduate, Drexel University, Pennsylvania

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

Nightstand makeover

Make over your nightstand

“When I was in a dorm, an eye mask became a must for when I wanted to sleep before my roommate was ready for bed!”
—Karalyn F., fourth-year undergraduate, 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 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

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

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

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

“I prefer piano or classical when I’m trying to fall asleep.”
—Breanna B., third-year undergraduate, University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

“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

“[If your bedroom is where you study] have a desk in your room and do schoolwork at the desk, so the bed doesn’t become a work place.”
—Heather H., third-year undergraduate, University of California, Irvine

“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 undergraduate, Santa Clara University, California


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 undergraduate, 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 undergraduate, San Jose State University, California

Don’t have a TV in your room.”
—Walter M., fourth-year undergraduate, University of California, San Diego

“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 undergraduate, 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

Light control for iOS devices

+ f.lux 
+ screen dimmer

Light control for Android devices

+ Twilight 
+ screen dimmer

Bedtime routine

Cherish your nighttime routine

“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 & college 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.