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Build a Better Bedroom

Make your master say 'serene retreat,' not 'time to sort piles of laundry' 

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Sarah Peng / AARP / Getty

If you’re having trouble with sleep, sometimes it feels like nothing will bring back those blissful seven or eight hours. But giving yourself a bedroom that’s primed for slumber can give you a fighting chance at a good night’s rest — and help you look forward to turning in.

Soothing color

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Lighting Science

A fresh coat of paint can go a long way toward reinventing your space. Stay away from busy wallpapers and bold colors such as yellows and reds, which are stimulating. While blues, greens and grays tend to be more mellow, and therefore appropriate, you can “really experiment with the palette as long as the colors are soothing and muted,” says color consultant Amy Wax, who notes that she likes the deep and soothing lilac shade called Inspired, as well as the grayish green Tranquility, both by Benjamin Moore, for bedrooms. To add drama, paint just the headboard wall a deep, saturated hue like Benjamin Moore’s Egyptian Clay or Porch Swing. 

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Restful lighting

Electronics, with their blue glaring light and endless alerts, can overstimulate a restless mind. But even ordinary lights in our home might be keeping us awake at night. “The single biggest environmental threat to a person’s sleep is light,” said Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert. That’s because electronics and many light bulbs, particularly LED bulbs, emit a harsh blue light that sends a signal to our brain to stop producing melatonin, a powerful hormone that helps you sleep, Breus said. (Think of it as the difference between staring into a campfire versus a blowtorch.)

To make your room more restful, replace the bulb in your bedside table with one that has a depleted blue spectrum, like the Good Night Bulb by Lighting Science ($18, at The company also sells a Good Night bedside table lamp ($38).

3 Hacks to Help You Handle Your Linens

Better bedding

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Your bed should feel cozy and inviting — but it shouldn't be so warm that you wake up in a pool of sweat. If you often get overheated at night, invest in breathable cotton sheets, such as lightweight percale organic sheets from Sol Organics (, which keep your bed cool while you rest. If a busy, anxious mind keeps you up, consider a weighted blanket, like the Gravity Blanket ($249, at, which comes in three colors and four weights. Choose one that is roughly 7 to 12 percent of your body weight. The heavy weight of the blanket stimulates pressure points, which its advocates claim will increase serotonin and melatonin production.

Sound asleep

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Philips Communications

From sirens to snoring, outside noise can make it hard to fall asleep. To tune it out, try a good noise machine, such as the LectroFan ($50, at, which comes with a timer, offers 10 noise variations plus 10 fan sounds. It is also small enough to put in your suitcase when you travel. Or surround yourself with ultra-soothing sounds and music that only you — not your partner — can hear with a Dreampad Pillow ($149, at, which uses a Bluetooth receiver and a free app to create its own kind of “surround sound” experience once your head sinks into it.

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A sweet slumber

A 2016 study found that inhaling essential oils could improve the quality of your sleep. Select an oil that you find soothing, such as lavender, sandalwood or jasmine.

And use an aromatherapy diffuser like the Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser ($19, at, which not only disperses a pleasant  aroma, but also features seven color-changing lamps and a night-light to give your room a romantic glow.

Gently awake

We all have to get out of bed eventually, but it need not be a startling experience with a blaring alarm clock wrenching you from a deep slumber. Instead, let the light wake you up. “Blue light is bad at night and great in the morning,” Breus said. “If you want to wake up, go outside and get some sunlight.” Since most of us can’t leap from our beds to the sun-filled streets, consider the Philips Wake Up Light ($140, at instead. It sits on your bedside table and gradually increases the light for 30 minutes before an alarm goes off. It includes 20 different brightness settings, five different wake-up sounds and FM radio. By the time your alarm goes off, your bedroom is full of light and you are ready to leave the sanctuary of your room and face the day. 

Sleep Like You're at a 4-star Hotel

We asked experts how to replicate the hotel-bed experience at home. They are Michael Weiss, Marriott senior director of online retail; Eric Rager, director of housekeeping at Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Bettina Landt, general manager of White Elephant, part of Nantucket Island Resorts. 

Pillows: Pile on four. You can't go wrong with goose down, our pros say. If you need something hypoallergenic, take advice from Weiss, who notes that his company offers "eco pillows" made from recycled plastic. 

Comforter: Down is the filling of choice, though hotels sometimes opt for a sneeze-free alternative: Polyester fiber is cut and stuffed into the duvet, to simulate feathers. 

Linens: Pick white for that clean, fresh look, the experts agree. The fabrics they prefer range from a 300-thread-count cotton-polyester blend to 600-count cotton. 

Mattress Topper: This is a key to comfort. A quilted pad typically provides an extra one to two inches of cushioning, but some hotel beds are even plusher, with a topper made of allergen-free duck feathers. 

Mattress: Weiss reports that his guests prefer foam, so the hotel uses 9- to 12-inch soy-based foam mattresses. Rager goes with a pocketed-coil model, which minimizes motion transfer. Landt favors innerspring pillow tops. 

— AARP The Magazine

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