IN THE MATTRESS INDUSTRY, we talk a lot about “selling sleep.” It’s shorthand for a more specific mission: to sell products that facilitate getting a good night’s sleep.

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 sleep-ing 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-rela-tions 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, “Bed-room 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 incred-ible.”

Sleep Savvy is a longtime proponent of mattress re-tailers 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

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 ex-pert, and BSC spokeswoman. (Sleep Savvy gives you more ideas for how to best display and sell pillows on page 20.)

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 easi-ly 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 protec-tors, see the September 2014 issue of Sleep Savvy.)

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 differ-ent 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.

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 first way and, second, the lighting in electronics triggers chemicals in the brain that pro-mote wakefulness. If you can’t maintain a moratorium on computers and phones, turn the devices off at least an hour be-fore 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.

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 condu-cive to sleep,” Cralle says.

NEVER USE YOUR BEDROOM AS A HOME OFFICE: It’s hard enough to try to forget everything you need to ac-complish 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 bed-room. Move your office to another room.

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 bed-room 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.’ ”

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.

AND DIM THE LIGHTS: “Start dim-ming 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 cur-tains 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.”

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.

MAINTAIN A RELAXING SLEEP ROUTINE: Create a bedtime ritual. Experts recommend reading a book, listening to soothing music or soaking in a hot bath.

EXERCISE EARLY: Regular ex-ercise can help you sleep better, but complete your workouts at least two hours before bedtime to give your body time to wind down.

STOP DRINKING CAFFEINAT-ED BEVERAGES AFTER LUNCH: Caffeine, a powerful stimulant, can remain in your system longer than you might realize.

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.

TAKE SHORT NAPS: Naps (20 to 30 minutes) can be restorative. Experts say even a 10-minute nap can improve alertness.

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 “pro-tein/carb combo” such as a few crack-ers with hummus, Coffey says. Pair the snack with a small cup of herbal tea— chamomile is a relaxing choice.

KEEP A WORRY JOURNAL: Writ-ing down the things that are bothering you can provide perspective and help you relax. Just don’t keep the journal in your bedroom.

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.