In honor of Better Sleep Month, Sleep Savvy examines how adding bedroom ambience to your showroom floor can boost shopper comfort and increase sales.
We offer a suggestions to help your customers create a restful retreat at home, too
BY JULIE A. PALM
It starts, of course, with that all-important supportive, comfortable mattress. But, for consumers, it doesn’t end there. People generally don’t sleep in bare rooms on bare mattress sets. We sleep in bedrooms and, depending on how those bedrooms are outfitted and maintained, the surroundings can either help or hinder our goal of sleeping well. A bedroom can be a crowded, uncomfortable and stressful place. Or it can be a restful, welcome retreat.
As a sleep products retailer, you can go a long way toward helping your customers create their ideal sleeping space. Better Sleep Month, an annual industrywide public-relations campaign held in May, is an excellent time to step up your efforts. The promotion, sponsored by the Better Sleep Council (the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association), highlights the important links between sleep, a quality mattress and a healthy lifestyle. You can tie into BSC messaging to explain to your shoppers how to build a restorative, relaxing bedroom that centers on that brand new mattress. Think of it as May Is Bedroom Makeover Month or, as registered nurse Terry Cralle, phrases it, “Bedroom Management” Month.
“The bedroom is the most important room in the house,” says Cralle, a certified clinical sleep educator and health and wellness spokeswoman for the BSC. “We need to look at the bedroom very differently—not as a full-service room, but as a room that’s managed with an eye toward sleep. It’s amazingly simple to do and the payoff is incredible.”
Sleep Savvy is a longtime proponent of mattress retailers selling a host of sleep-related products, everything from pillows and linens to aromatherapy. It’s an easy way to increase your bottom line and bring customers into your store more frequently. It also enables you to help shoppers create that welcoming sleep sanctuary for themselves.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the products you can carry to make it easy for your customers to build their ideal sleep environment. In the accompanying article on page 18, we offer tips for creating and maintaining a sleep sanctuary that you can share with shoppers.
Essential sanctuary products
O Pillows: High-quality, comfortable and supportive pillows are as important to sleep as the mattress itself. If you carry no other additional sleep products, you need to offer an array of pillows in various constructions (foam, down, poly fill, down alternative, gel) and styles (for back, stomach and side sleepers; neck rolls; body pillows). Encourage your customers to rest-test a variety of pillows while they choose their mattress. And train your retail sales associates to discuss pillow lifespans with shoppers. “Pillows should be replaced every six months to two years at the latest,” says Lissa Coffey, an author, lifestyle and relationship expert, and BSC spokeswoman. (Sleep Savvy gives you more ideas for how to best display and sell pillows on page 20.)
O Bed linens: To help your customers create a complete bedding ensemble, carry a wide selection of soft, inviting bed linens. Coffey recommends focusing on natural fibers in calming colors. She also suggests offering sheets, blankets, comforters, duvets and quilts in a variety of weights. Encourage your customers to create a layered ensemble that enables them to easily add and remove items over the course of the night and as the seasons change. (For more information about selling and merchandising linens and various protectors, see the September 2014 issue of Sleep Savvy.)
O Sound machines: “You want the bedroom to be quiet. If you’re in the city, you want to cancel out traffic and other noise. At the same time, some people have trouble sleeping if the room is too quiet,” Coffey says. The solution to both problems can be white-noise or sound-therapy machines, which play sound-masking white-noise, nature sounds (rainstorms, ocean waves) or soft music. Carry a few different models and demonstrate their use in different sections of your store, maybe white noise near the sales desk and ocean waves near an adjustable bed base. You also can offer customers CDs of relaxing sounds and music.
O Alarm clocks: The BSC advises against people sleeping with their phones, which represent a source of daytime stress and, with all their audible notifications and vibrations, interrupt sleep. That means no relying on a phone to be an alarm clock—even if it has an app for that. An actual alarm clock is the way to go. Offer your shoppers some of the better, more innovative models, which wake people up with gradually brightening light, chimes, nature sounds and even aromatherapy instead of harsh radio stations or grating alarms.
O Aromatherapy: Soothing scents—especially lavender, vanilla, jasmine and chamomile—can help prepare the body for sleep. Candles are an obvious choice, but you also can offer aromatherapy diffusers, which include both oil-infused discs that consumers place on lightbulbs and electronic models that they plug in. Use them in your store: Customers will notice how great they make things smell. You also can carry a selection of scented bath products—sleep experts suggest people unwind with a bath before bed. Some sleep-products manufacturers incorporate scents into the products themselves: Think lavender-scented mattress fabrics or pillows and protectors that come with sweet-smelling sachets. Talk to your vendors about what’s available.
For your customers
Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary
Sleep Savvy encourages you to share the following tips for creating a sleep sanctuary and practicing good “sleep hygiene” with your customers. Use your imagination. You can post the ideas on your website, tweet them or include them in a brochure your delivery team leaves on a new mattress after set up. Share them far and wide. Just remember to credit Sleep Savvy and the Better Sleep Council, the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.
Buying a new mattress is a great time to assess the state of your entire bedroom. Has it become a dumping ground for half-finished projects? Does it function more like a second living room—a place to watch TV, while texting and finishing that spreadsheet that’s due in the morning? Is streetlight stream in through the windows, keeping you up every night?
Your favorite mattress retailer can help you choose the best mattress, pillows, bed linens and other sleep products for your bedroom, but there are a number of steps you can take on your own to make your bedroom a peaceful place.
“Many of these tips sound really obvious and easy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work,” says Lissa Coffey, an author, lifestyle and relationship expert, and spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council, the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association. “That’s actually the great thing: You can make some minor changes to your bedroom and your habits, and you’ll see a real difference in how well you sleep and how you function the next day.”
Registered nurse Terry Cralle agrees.
“It’s under our control to have a bedroom that’s conducive to sleep,” says Cralle, a certified clinical sleep educator and health and wellness spokeswoman for the BSC. “I once gave a talk on sleep. While explaining her trouble, a woman in the audience mentioned that her son’s boa constrictor slept in the room with her. Who’s going to sleep well with a boa constrictor in the room? Once people make some simple changes in the bedroom, they have an ‘ah-ha’ moment—and sleep better.”
Start with this fundamental edict in mind: If you want to get the best, most restorative sleep, reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex. Other tips:
O Keep clutter out of the bedroom. Because they aren’t seen by guests and because we spend a good deal of time in them, bedrooms can become clutter magnets. But climbing over piles of unpaid bills and unfolded laundry is not conducive to sleep. If you’re pressed for time, spend less effort tidying up the living room and more time organizing the bedroom. Start every day by making your bed so that it’s clean and inviting at bedtime. “It’s partly why people sleep well in hotels. The room is so nice and clean,” Cralle says. “People love the peace and quiet.”
O Declare the bedroom a tech-free zone. In our increasingly connected world, this idea is hard for many people to embrace. But sleep experts are adamant that you’ll sleep better if you keep smartphones, tablets, laptops and televisions out of the bedroom. Technology is troublesome for two reasons: First, it tempts us to do just one more thing (send another email, post another photo to Facebook) and, second, the lighting in electronics triggers chemicals in the brain that promote wakefulness. If you can’t maintain a moratorium on computers and phones, turn the devices off at least an hour before bedtime and store them in another room. If you insist on having a TV in the bedroom, make use of the timer to turn it off after 30 or 60 minutes so that the noise and light don’t disrupt your sleep throughout the night.
O Use soothing colors on walls, flooring and bedding. Your bedroom décor should trigger thoughts of rest and relaxation. Take a cue from hotel rooms and spas, which favor neutral tones and subtle patterns over bright colors and busy designs. “There have been some studies that show white, in particular, is very conducive to sleep,” Cralle says.
O Never use your bedroom as a home office. It’s hard enough to try to forget everything you need to accomplish the next day at work when you head to bed each night. If your bedroom actually houses your home office, it can be virtually impossible. Sleep experts say it’s critical to keep work out of the bedroom. Move your office to another room.
O Help children develop good habits. Just as your bedroom shouldn’t be cluttered with work and unfinished projects, a child’s room shouldn’t be a jumble of toys and homework. If your home doesn’t have space for a separate playroom for the kids, make sure their toys fit in a bedroom closet or a set of organizing bins. “You can even make a bedtime ritual of cleaning up the bedroom,” Coffey says. “You can say, ‘You’re going to sleep, so let’s put our toys to sleep. Let’s put our stuffed animals to bed.’ ”
O Keep the bedroom cool. Though preferences vary, most people sleep best in a cool room, around 65 to 68 degrees. A ceiling fan can help keep the room comfortable and has the added benefit of masking outside noise.
O And dim the lights. “Start dimming the lights about an hour before bedtime. If you make the bedroom as dark as possible, you’ll go to sleep faster and you’ll stay asleep longer,” Cralle says. There’s a physiological reason for this: The body doesn’t produce melatonin, a necessary sleep hormone, in bright light. If streetlight is a problem, invest in black-out curtains or shades.
Embrace the dark
Creating good sleep habits is vital to getting restful sleep. The BSC offers these tips for practicing good “sleep hygiene.”
O Make sleep a priority. Maintain a consistent sleep and wake schedule, even on the weekends. If you really struggle to make time for sleep, try adding it to your to-do list or write your target bedtime on your daily calendar.
O Maintain a relaxing sleep routine. Create a bedtime ritual. Experts recommend reading a book, listening to soothing music or soaking in a hot bath.
O Stop drinking caffeinated beverages after lunch. Caffeine, a powerful stimulant, can remain in your system longer than you might realize.
O Don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime. If you want to indulge, enjoy your glass of wine early in the evening. Alcohol can help you fall asleep but actually disturbs sleep later on.
O Take short naps. Naps (20 to 30 minutes) can be restorative. Experts say even a 10-minute nap can improve alertness.
O Eat lightly in the evening. Finish eating at least two to three hours before bedtime. If you must eat something before bed, make it a “protein/carb combo” such as a few crackers with hummus, Coffey says. Pair the snack with a small cup of herbal tea—chamomile is a relaxing choice.
O Keep a worry journal. Writing down the things that are bothering you can provide perspective and help you relax. Just don’t keep the journal in your bedroom.
O Set a snooze button quota. If you’re a snooze-button addict, hit it only once. You will feel more refreshed if your sleep isn’t disrupted multiple times.
Julie A. Palm, chief wordsmith at Palm Ink LLC, has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for a variety of newspapers, magazines and other publications. She served as editor in chief of BedTimes for more than nine years and was editor in chief of Sleep Savvy for two years. She can be reached at japalm623@gmail.