Maybe it was stress; maybe it was the political climate; maybe it was aging and my addiction to sugar; or maybe it was a combination of all of the above (and then some)… but I had the worst sleep of my life in 2018. I’m talking restless nights, waking up at 4am with a rolling to-do list, and a 3pm slump that felt like I had been ambushed with a tranquilizer gun. That’s why when January hit, instead of pulling out the scale and skinny jeans, I set out with a resolution to create a bedroom that would deliver me a restful night of sleep. I began to realize over the next 30 days of change that the place where I spend roughly 50 percent of my life was the opposite of zen and peaceful.
I partnered with Buffy, a super soft and environmentally friendly comforter to make my bedroom the most comfortable sleeping environment possible. After 30 days of research and practice, I’ve perfected the combination that leads to more zzz’s.
1. Marie Kondo your room.
At first glance this may seem like a hefty step. Before you hit the tiny x and move on with your scroll, hear me out: your bedroom is more than begging for a good purge and deep clean. I removed all the furniture (that I could lift) and items that weren’t attached to the wall to our living room and made a pile, á la Marie Kondo. Before I began purging, I set out to do a deep clean on the entire space. Steam cleaning the rug, removing the curtains and washing them, vacuuming the mattress, scrubbing the baseboards, wiping down all the furniture, dusting the ceiling and fan, disinfecting light switches and doorknobs… anything you can think of, it was scrubbed.
The next step is to look at your room. If your first thought is, “Wow… this looks so much bigger!” you’re not alone. Over time it’s natural to grow accustomed to clutter so seeing it bare will help you prioritize what really deserves a spot in your sacred space. Ask yourself if the orientation of the room is working for your life. Can you rearrange the furniture for more space or a better flow? If not, focus instead on only adding back in what is necessary. Go through the very large pile in your living room and only add in what’s necessary. Purge your closet and drawers, avoid cramming “storage” under your bed, and approach the entire room with a “less is more” mentality. This is the room where you need to get your zen on, so prioritize calm and clean.
2. Invest in your bedding.
The most important part of better sleep starts with where you lay your head. Optimizing your bed is the first major step in making your bedroom a haven rather than a crash pad. We had just received a new set of sheets for our wedding a few months ago (one of our favorite presents we registered for), but our bed was still lacking. I kept thinking of that moment when you crawl into a luxurious hotel bed and think, “That’s it. I’m never going home.” I wanted that exact feeling every time I crawled into bed. Not asking for too much, right?!
I set out for a new comforter, but after a single visit to our local big box home store became incredibly disappointed. Comforters that tout “hotel grade” or “luxury quality” were around $400 for a Queen-size. That’s more than my car payment and cell phone bill… combined. And what’s worse is that because we live in the South with extremely hot summers, most of these expensive plush comforters would have to go into storage during non-winter months. Thank u, next.
Enter: Buffy. A new-to-me brand that brings high quality comforters directly to consumers (with free shipping might I add) with every size being under $200. These comforters are made with an eco-friendly fill of recycled bottles (which helps keep 2.5 million plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill or our oceans) and silky eucalyptus fabric. Unlike down, this filling is hypoallergenic and resists harmful allergens, microbes, and mites — meaning you can count on it staying clean no matter how long you have it. I felt safe testing out the new comforter because of their 30 day free to try policy so if I didn’t love it, I could send it back hassle-free.
The Buffy package seems oddly small considering it’s housing a cloud of luxury — which is why after receiving the delivery notification and not seeing a massive package waiting for me, I shook my fist at the sky honestly assuming it was stolen. But when I rounded the corner there it was, tucked behind my front porch like a tiny love note from my favorite delivery man. I was so impressed with the minimal packaging, because often brands are wasteful with the amount of virgin plastic they include for even the smallest purchase. Buffy’s core value of sustainability goes well beyond the product itself — and as someone who wholeheartedly recycles and composts, I appreciate that.
I know some of you will be doubting how something so fluffy and soft could come from such a small air-tight package you see above, but it puffed up to a standard comforter size (see the photo below) in a matter of minutes.
The Buffy comforter was so soft, I almost didn’t want to put a duvet cover on it. But because we have pets that think our bed is also theirs and the cleaning instructions for the Buffy comforter is to dry clean it, I knew that I needed to get a cover on it, STAT.
In my quest to make our bedroom a comfy oasis, I purchased a new duvet cover. I decided to go with a small ticking stripe pattern to break up all the stark white bedding (but could still be thrown in the washer with our sheets). The Buffy comforter took no time to tuck in to our new duvet — it’s equipped with spots on the corners to hook inside your cover so you never have to worry about it falling down. Because it’s winter and we religiously monitor our gas bill, I layered a light quilt underneath the duvet and between the sheets. After the first night under our new comforter, we realized that the Buffy was so warm that we could go without the quilt.
3. Say ‘goodbye’ to screens.
You knew it was coming. Whether it’s avoiding blue light an hour before bed or keeping technology out of your bedroom entirely, screens and the time we spend staring at them right before bed inevitably have an effect on how we sleep… and not in a good way. I would love to sit here and pretend that I am a purist but to be perfectly honest, we have a television in our bedroom and I would give up quite a few of life’s comforts before I give up my wall mounted TV. Our mount even has a movable arm so if you want to lay in bed perfectly horizontal and not move a muscle, you can angle the TV to optimal viewing. And when I have potato Saturday — where I lay in my bed all day taking in hours of Gossip Girl re-runs — that is exactly the vibe I want. So while I was willing to sacrifice and change a lot for a better night of sleep, that wasn’t one of them. (Disclaimer: we don’t turn on the TV in our bedroom on weeknights. We use it primarily for weekend laziness, the occasional movie in bed, or when we need to separate to watch our own shows.)
Instead, I moved our cell phone and smart watch charging station (and all the hideous cables) from the nightstand to the opposite wall on the dresser. That way when we were ready to get in bed and relax, it meant placing our phones on the charger and essentially saying ‘goodnight’ to them — and our sense of connectedness. I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I’ve already saved by giving up the end-of-night-first-thing-in-the-morning scroll. And despite holding on to my TV like Rose held onto that life raft, this is where I saw the most change in my sleep. Disconnecting from work and social life triggered me to wind down and with each passing night I found myself having less stress dreams than the night before.
One thing I didn’t expect was alarm clock paranoia. The first few nights I would get in and out of bed to double check that I set my alarm and that my phone was on loud… completely defeating the purpose of a restful, worry-free night. To combat this bad habit, I picked up a google home mini for our bedroom so I can just shout at it from bed to set my alarm. It also doubles as a sound machine so I can fall asleep to the sound of rain or fan noises and honestly it’s fantastic.
4. Block out light.
It’s time to convert your bedroom to Dracula’s cave. No vampires required — unless you’re into that sort of thing and in that case please leave a comment on what you’ve been reading since Twilight (asking for a friend). It’s gonna be great, I promise. You will be so spoiled by your dark cave bedroom, you’ll wonder how you ever slept without them.
When purchasing your blackout curtains, make sure that you measure and only buy panels that fully cover your entire window — both at the top and sides. I know, they are an investment, but they are worth it, I promise. We’ve had our set for 3 years and they have barely any wear. I wash them every few months in cold water and let them hang dry. Never (repeat after me) never put them in the dryer.
If you already have curtains you love, consider blackout liners, which can affix to the lining on the back or go on a separate rod behind and allows you more control on the amount of light you let in. If you really need to justify it, blackout curtains can help reduce energy costs. Especially in the winter where they help keep heat in your room rather than letting it escape through the window.
5. Add in the fluff.
My husband asked me why we need so many pillows on the bed if at night we just throw half of them on the floor, only to put them back on in the morning. And while his logic is sound (don’t tell him I said that) this same sentiment could be applied to lots of other things that bring us joy. Why do you put on jewelry if only to take it off at the end of the day? Because it makes you feel put together. And when you feel put together, you feel like a boss and go out in the world to accomplish things like Beyoncé. The same applies for your bedroom: putting extra pillows on the bed and making it each morning adds to the experience. When you cross in to your bedroom, it should be a signal for rest and relaxation and this starts with treating your space like the oasis it is.
Your nightstand should be free of clutter. Keep the receipts and whatever else was in your pockets out of your resting area. I found the best nightstand combination for me was a glass of water, the book I read to wind down, and a candle. If you’re someone that tends to have a lot of stuff on your bedside (and you just can’t avoid it), go for a nightstand with a top drawer. That way you can house the essentials while maintaining a clear, clutter-free exterior.
A lamp on your nightstand might sound like a no-brainer, but it truly is essential for creating a mood of rest and comfort —and it’s just super handy because who wants to get up when they are comfortable to turn off an overhead light?! Make sure to pick one that doesn’t take up the entire space on your nightstand. A good rule of thumb is the base should only take up 1/4 to 1/3 of your space. If you don’t have the room or are looking for something more visually interesting, go for a wall sconce. Yes, they are super cool and if we didn’t have a window in the way that is what I would choose.
Now go forth, climb in to your bed and don’t feel bad if you never want to leave and face the real world. That’s what winter is for, amirite?
This post was in partnership with Buffy, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.