What does an insomniac do with his bedroom?
July 5, 2008 8:26 AM   Subscribe

One of the most common recommendations for insomniacs is to not use a bedroom for anything but sleeping (and sex, though I suspect that's a compromise to reality). And that's helped a lot. But... now I've crammed my entire life into my living room, because I have a one-bedroom apartment. And it's cramped!

Right now, my bedroom consists only of bed, dresser, and a couple of bookcases that wouldn't fit in the living room. My living room, on the other hand, has to be my office (desk), library/study (bookshelves/comfy chair), entertainment space...

So: How do other insomnia-fighting folks deal with the fact that we're not exploiting the bedroom's space as much as other folks might?

I could make it a kind of storage-space, putting all of my shelves and such there, but I really want to have books 'on display,' because I'm a bibliophile and having visible shelving is a key part of 'home' for me. I'm not sure if putting up a big divider in the bedroom, and using half of it for an office, is viable - has anyone else tried that and found it to be a sufficiently 'different' space to still get the anti-insomnia benefits?

NB: I recognize that, ideally, I'd only live in apartments with very-small bedrooms and larger living rooms, or multiple bedrooms, but I wasn't able to find anything quite like the former, and my budget prevents the latter. Maybe in a couple of years...
posted by Tomorrowful to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I heard it was not to use the bed for anything other than sleeping or sex. You can use the room the bed is in anytime you want. That is, you shouldn't sit in bed and do work or watch TV, but if you have a desk in the same room as the bed, you can use that area as you office. Same with the comfy chair. You can sit and read in the chair, or watch TV. When it is time to sleep, turn off the TV and go to the bed.
posted by birdherder at 8:41 AM on July 5, 2008

I haven't heard of this strategy before, but it makes sense. And based on my past experience at times when I've had trouble sleeping, I'd say the desk does need to be in a separate room. Otherwise it's too tempting to just get up and go putz around on the computer or get some work done or whatever.

And it doesn't sound to me like putting up a divider would create enough separation. The one idea I did have is that maybe if you can secure the divider(s) to the wall, and lock it closed at night. Otherwise, I'd say storage is probably the best way to increase the efficiency of your space. Make sure you consider all the options though. Obviously, if you use it how most people think of "storage", then you'll just end up emptying out closets, and nothing from the living room. Consider storing things like DVDs in your room, even though the TV is not in there. It will free up some space.

Another thing is that it might be okay to move a piece of furniture or two from the living room to your room. If you have more than just a sofa in the LR, you might move an armchair or something into your room. Just try not to use it, especially at night. Maybe you could just keep it there for storage and looks, and take it out when you have enough guests that it's needed in the LR. You could also maybe keep a coffee table in your room. Just make sure the magazines don't come along with it. A floor lamp could move. Depending on your use of it, consider keeping some of the office stuff in your room, as long as it's not constantly needed, and as long as it's not something that will enable you to start working at night.

Also, be careful having the bookcase in your room. If you have it in there, make sure your current book is not on it.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:03 AM on July 5, 2008

Response by poster: gaucho: I'm fine with not letting my current book 'distract' me; I actually keep it on my nightstand right now. Moving DVD storage is a good idea, though.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:12 AM on July 5, 2008

If your bedroom is big enough for this, I'd suggest getting a big folding screen and hiding your bed and dresser behind it in a corner. Then you could use the rest of your bedroom for office or library space, and it would be like having two separate rooms. I did this in high school (when I was living at home and only had the one room), and loved it. You could even paint the main wall of your sleeping space a different color.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:18 AM on July 5, 2008

Sorry, I apparently didn't read thoroughly, but I still think the different colored paint thing might work.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:20 AM on July 5, 2008

I have the same issue. I was lucky enough to find an apt with a tiny BR/large LR and kitchen. But I used to use the divider method and it worked reasonably well, though I am not a hard core insomniac.

The other thing is that, while keeping all non-essental electronics (tv, laptop, stereo) out of the bedroom helps, it doesn't really bother me to have books and a chair in my room. I try not to read anywhere in my room near bedtime though. And if I do find it hard to sleep, and want to read for awhile, I make myself go into the living room.

Man, I am so jealous of people who can read in bed!
posted by lunasol at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2008

Also, if your BR is larger than your LR, maybe you could swith them? A little unusual, I know, but there's no rule that says a room has to have a bed and a dresser just because the architect called it the bedroom.
posted by lunasol at 9:47 AM on July 5, 2008

Have you considered a box bed? Maybe something like the one on this site, though I'd build mine around a window and seriously increase the ventilation.

You could accomplish something similar with a four-poster bed and good curtains.

The goal would be to make your bed a special haven that's clearly separate from anything else in the room.
posted by PatoPata at 9:53 AM on July 5, 2008

If you have suddenly become as obsessed with old European box beds as I have, you might enjoy visiting what appears to be the mother lode of box beds.
posted by PatoPata at 10:05 AM on July 5, 2008

Best answer: I agree with Birdherder, I use the "bed is only for sleeping and sex" technique. I've never heard of that technique being expanded to a whole room of the house. I suppose my suggestion would be to just try limiting the technique to your bed and see if it still works for you, that way you can get your rest AND your space!
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 10:11 AM on July 5, 2008

If your room is smaller and a standing screen won't work, hang a curtain/sheet/pretty fabric from the ceiling to divide the room. It will give you the same effect for less loss of space.
posted by SuzySmith at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2008

Could you just enclose the bed on all 4 sides with curtains (like a 4 poster bed). That way, you could have you desk, etc in the BR--when you want to go to sleep, just pull the curtains closed, shutting off the room around you. And it is so romantic looking!
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 6:08 PM on July 5, 2008

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