You know those nights when you’re just too tired to pick up the clothes on your floor, load the dishwasher, and take out the recycling? Instead, you tumble into bed early, happily anticipating eight hours of solid rest…only to wake up the next morning feeling like you barely slept.
You’re not dreaming this up: Research proves that people surrounded by clutter are more likely to experience disturbed sleep and feel more tired the next day.
De-cluttering expert Christa O’Leary explains that mess leads to stress. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to become distracted and making it more difficult to relax both physically and mentally. Your home, and especially your bedroom, “should be a sanctuary where you’re able to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit,” says O’Leary.
January is Get Organized month, so it’s the perfect time to get organized and get some rest. Here are four tips to help you get out from under the clutter so you can sleep better, starting tonight:
1. Start small—and smart: Of all the rooms in your home, the bedroom may be the most important to keep neat and organized. We spend about a third of our lives there—more time than in any other place. It’s a room where you should feel rested and relaxed, which clutter works against. According to sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D., “When you walk into a room, what your eye sees can actually determine whether or not you’re going to have an easy time falling asleep.” In fact, the very first thing Breus advises patients with sleep complaints is, “Clean up your bedroom.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for organizing your space. It’s key to declutter in small, focused bursts. For instance, say you’ve set aside a Saturday afternoon to take on your bedroom. Set a timer and stick to it: Clean up for 30 minutes, take a 30 minute break, then pick up again for another 30 minutes. The goal is to avoid the frustration and high emotions that often accompany organizing, especially if it involves deciding what to keep or trash.
2. Involve the family: If clutter has invaded your entire home, don’t go at it alone. Get the family involved by starting with a room everyone uses and making each person responsible for a section. Put on some tunes to make it more fun and tackle one area a time, decluttering one area before moving on to another. You’ll all share a sense of accomplishment as you see the cleanup, little by little, and everyone will be equally invested in maintaining your progress.
3. Create designated spaces: This is especially important for smaller things that accumulate. For example, use a pretty dish or bowl to hold earrings, watches, or other pieces of jewelry, rather than leaving them lying around. Put unread magazines, unpaid bills, or other random papers in a basket (and toss them when they’re read or paid). When you take something from its designated spot, put it back when you’ve finished with it. This may sound simple, but it takes practice and commitment.
4. Fling open the closet doors: Behind those closed doors can lurk the biggest messes: shelves of clothes you no longer wear, shirts that are half hung, and shoes scattered about. Always take the extra minute to properly hang up your clothes or fold and stack them on a shelf. Put dirty laundry in the hamper or a laundry bag. Spending time on front-end maintenance makes decluttering easier and less time-consuming down the road.
Over the last 10 years, Janet Ungless has developed a comprehensive expertise in health and well-being as a writer and editor. With a particular focus on sleep, meditation, and wellness, Janet has worked with a host of digital platforms to help consumers live healthier, happier lives. Find her on Twitter @jungless.