It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Clutter and Sleep Poll

I was just reading an organizational blog where I came across the idea that children sleep better in an uncluttered room. Well. I have never heard of such a notion, and am not quite sure what to make of it, but I am curious, so…

I’m looking for your input. What do you think? Does the state of a child’s room have any bearing on how they sleep?

Let’s take a poll! Answer, if you will, these two questions about your child (or for each of your children).

1. Is your child’s room neat or sloppy?
2. How does he/she sleep?

February 21, 2007 - Posted by | memes and quizzes, sleep


  1. 1. Jeffrey’s room is generally neat. We usually mess it up during the day and then I pick up before we read books and pop into bed.
    2. He sleeps like a rock but that being said he’ll pretty much sleep anywhere. He sleeps for 11-12 hours at night and usually two hour to hour and a half naps during the day at home. At daycare he usually only has one hour long nap in the afternoon. He sleeps great when visiting other peoples homes and I know they not all neat.

    Comment by Dani | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  2. 1. Depends
    2. Soundly

    Comment by Peter | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  3. My son is 12 now and his room is very very very disorganised. I clear his bed before he goes to sleep usually — if I miss it, he sleeps that way, moving around the books/gameboy/whatever he’s left on it.

    He sleeps like the dead.

    As a baby, he started out in my bedroom, in a cot by my bed. It was certainly cluttered. He slept badly, but I to this day believe we were waking each other up, over and over in the night. When I moved him to his own room, neat and tidy simply because the room was totally un-used other than naps/sleeping, he slept like a charm.

    I don’t reckon it makes a difference, personally.

    Comment by sylvia | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  4. I know I sleep better in an uncluttered room and I know this has been true since I’ve been old enough to pick up after myself. I also study, read, and generally do most things better when clutter is at a minimum.

    Comment by Amy | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  5. 1. Mine doesn’t care what state the room is in, but she’s only 20 months old. Plus, we’re bad parents and still allow her to fall asleep on one of us before moving her to her own crib – she just may not know what her room looks like. But she’ll go to sleep pretty much anywhere at her home-based daycare, so my guess is that it doesn’t matter to her.
    2. She goes back and forth between sleeping soundly and waking up a few times. But when she does wake up in the middle of the night, she usually goes back to sleep within a couple of minutes without needing any help from us. She’s a light sleeper after 5:00 am and often will wake up if we have to go down the creaky hardwood floors on our way to the bathroom. A bit of a problem, now that I’m pregnant and have to pee a lot some nights.

    And if she ever has a problem sleeping or being in messy/cluttered spaces, she will have a hard life living with us 🙂

    Comment by smashedpea | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  6. the rooms have got more cluttered as more children arrived.

    The children have slept (marginally) better as rooms got more cluttered/more children arived/I got too tired to give a damn:-)

    Of course, I don’t put anything on their beds. Except maybe one favoured toy. Unlike some beds that I have seen where there is barely room for the child under all the cuddlies. That can’t help them sleep imo.

    Comment by juggling mother | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  7. 1) Messy

    2) They sleep fine, though it always takes Christian a bit to get to sleep, which is more Asperger’s than messy room, I suspect.

    Comment by Jen | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  8. 1. Madeline’s room is very tidy.
    2. She’s not a good sleeper. Finally began to get up only *once* a night when she was at least 28 months old.

    Maybe I should try a messy room 🙂

    Comment by laura | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  9. My oldest son, the worst sleeper of the bunch, arrived home to pristine surroundings.

    The surroundings grew more cluttered with each subsequent kid (and a move back to a tiny Tokyo apartment) and his sleep improved — and the next two kids were decent sleepers. In fact, my daughter can only be called an EXCELLENT sleeper, to this day.

    So our family says PPPPPPPFFFFFT! to that theory.

    Comment by L. | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  10. My granddaughter potters around her bedroom moving things before going to sleep, or when she wakes up in the morning. I don’t think she cares about clutter, one way or the other. She’s 23 months.

    My mother, however ill, could not lie in an untidy or dusty bedroom. She had to get up and sort it out.

    To answer the questions
    1 Not untidy, but not rigidly neat. Not sloppy, I guess
    2 She is tranquil, even when not asleep

    Comment by z | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  11. 1. Relatively neat – not much in there, since we close his door at night and I don’t like leaving toys around that he can use to dent walls/chip paint! Books and soft toys only.

    2. Relatively well. He sometimes wakes up at around 2am if there’s something uncomfortable (nappy, room temp, thirsty).

    Personally, I don’t think the lack of clutter is so much about the toddler sleeping but about removing distractions to sleep. Now, my husband? I think he sleeps and, more importantly, wakes up better in an unclutterd room, but I think that’s something he grew up with.

    Comment by Kat | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  12. We tidy my kid’s room everynight, and everything is neat and organized, and she sleeps pretty well for the most part. I sincerly believe that a tidy room helps you sleep better, as does a tidy house overall.

    Comment by cece | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  13. Elcie used to sleep covered up with so many stuffies there was barely room for Elcie. Didn’t faze her one bit.

    Rebecca is as apt to fall asleep on the couch as in her bed. I have rule. Never awaken a sleeping Rebecca.

    Rochelle prefers the floor but I don’t let her do it often.

    kids are strange. The one thing they have in common is their willingness most of the time to sleep when it’s time. It’s never been a real issue even when they were babies except for Rochelle who is a vampire.

    Even she though will settle down when I tell her to.

    Cluttered? Organized? Doesn’t seem to matter.

    Comment by ann adams | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  14. vaguely messy but both sleep very well. Do you read the one about the colour of the duvet and pillow affecting sleep, (sounds like a joke, its not!) orange is a big no-no apparently, C’s is beige and cream and J’s is Thomas the tank engine!

    Comment by jenny uk | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  15. All right. The tally, as of 7:30 Thursday morning (including my own children):

    Messy room, good sleeper: 8
    Tidy room, good sleeper: 6
    Tidy room, poor sleeper: 2
    Messy room, poor sleeper: 1

    Plus Peter’s three, and two of Ann’s, who sleep soundly regardless of the state of their room.

    Seems that 7 children’s environment/sleep experience supports the theory, while 10 children rebuts the theory. Since Peter’s and Ann’s sleep equally well regardless, I suppose they don’t support the theory, either.

    So, our small sample suggests it doesn’t make a difference.

    My feeling? If you love a tidy environment, mess will bother you, and perhaps even make it hard to sleep until it’s dealt with. But your child? Far less likely to be an issue (until you train your preferences into him/her) – unless he/she’s inherited your tidy genes!

    Comment by MaryP | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  16. A little late for the poll, oh well…

    Ian likes to sleep in the middle of his books, whether it be on the floor or in his bed. I don’t know if this will continue when he’s older, but I think it’s cute.

    Comment by mamacita tina | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  17. I don’t think that messiness or tidiness would affect the quality of sleep. But I feel that the bedtime process and waking-up process are nicer if the room is picked up. It’s so much nicer to be able to swing out of bed and not stumble over clothes and other detritus on the floor, and to lie reading before bed without being surrounded by reminders of other activities and toys.

    Comment by roundabout | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  18. I used to leap over the piles of clothing to get to my book covered bed and slept fine. My husband needs everything neat and tidy and sleeps fine…I sleep badly in our mostly tidy bedroom, but attribute that more to an 8 month old and snoring…sometimes in stereo though the baby monitor!
    LittleE has a pretty tidy room and a few things in his cot (stuffed aligator, sprinkling of dummies (pacifier)and his FP aquarium) and has only just mastered sleeping through the night.
    Secretly I want his to be as tidy as his father but fear he will be as messy as his mother.

    Comment by hazela | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  19. Yeah, I’m late too, but my children sleep terrible anyway. The state of the room doesn’t matter. it’s getting better, but on’es teethinga and the other has a cold. I’m not really in the mood to talk about sleep. Ally’s bed is always filled with stufffed animals though. They keep the monsters and alligators away.

    Comment by ktjrdn | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  20. 1.a. Christopher’s room is perpetually a disaster area.
    b. Sophie’s room is generally spotless, with everything in it’s place at all times.

    2.a. Like the dead. Seriously. He sleeps through nebulizer treatments.
    2.b. Quite well.

    It must be noted that Christopher needs total darkness to sleep, so he can’t even see the mess in his room when we turn out the lights. Sophie sleeps with two night lights in her room, plus a night light in the hall and falls asleep much faster than Christopher does. But they both sleep very, very well.

    Comment by candace | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  21. I think there is a difference between messy & cluttered. Sweet Boy’s room can look like ToysRUs barfed in it when he’s been playing really hard…. but there is a place for everything if/when it all gets put away.

    And I’ve discovered we can avoid a LOT of melt-downs by keeping things kinda organized…. so when he wants to play football with daddy he knows (or I know) the nerf football is probably in the white toybox in his room rather than tearing the place apart looking for it. Similarly, the “little people” accessories go in the yellow basket, the baby toys go in the blue basket, dress-up stuff & sports stuff in the white toy box, puzzles & a dishtub of random little toys under the tv, books in one of three wicker baskets around the house or on the shelf…. It makes it easy for him to find and put away his own toys. And typing this makes me realize how MANY TOYS we have…. hee-hee. But we do rotate them in and out a lot to keep things interesting and keep enough open space in his room for him to be able to play.

    Oh, and to stop rambling and answer the question… he’s a good sleeper and has a low-clutter room.

    Comment by Homestead | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  22. Here are just a few suppositions on my part. I have always been sloppy, but I always seemed to sleep better when my room was tidy. Maybe that is why I never slept well. That said, I have a very commonsense answer to why children might sleep better in a tidy room. It has to do with the path to the Bathroom. If that was clear I seemed to be more content and slept better, I did not feel as trapped. Also for many children objects in the room take on new forms in the twilight, Dragons monsters and strange plants etc….

    It all depends on the child I would think. The more secure the child is with their environment the more likely a messy room might not bother them.

    Comment by Bill | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  23. “can look like ToysRUs barfed in it ” is a fabulous line. I’m off to visit Homestead on the strength of it.

    Comment by z | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  24. Generally my son’s room is pretty neat (save a stray shirt or pair of socks that didn’t quite make it into the hamper). We always make sure the books and toys are picked up before bedtime because I have personally always believed that you sleep/work/think better in an uncluttered room. He does sleep pretty well – but I’m not sure if it’s because of the state of his room, or because we allow him to keep his light on to scare the monsters away.

    Comment by Mama's Moon | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  25. M

    Comment by Amy | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  26. Sorry about that. My child’s room is messy. He sleeps with practically everything he owns within arms reach. He takes some time arranging everything each night and then – bam – he’s out until we wake him up.

    Comment by Amy | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  27. I freak out if the bedrooms in our house aren’t picked up before bedtime. My daughter on the other hand LOVES to make piles of her toys and fall asleep on top of them in the middle of her room. Like this……….

    Comment by So Called Supermom | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  28. Late to the party… but FWIW:

    Her room is cluttered – mostly because it is SMALL (she’ll move into a bigger one with a bed later this year)so there are bins of books pushed next to her hamper between the door and the futon, which is right up to her crib, which is tight up to the bookscase, hidden behind the rocking chair next to the potty and diaper pail, aroudn the corner from the change table and clothes… (I can’t wait to let her spread a bit soon!)

    She sleeps well most nights. This past week she’s taking longer to go to sleep, and every few months she’ll have a spat of four or five nights where she wakes, but mostly she sleeps from about 8 to 7-7:30 soundly.

    Comment by kittenpie | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  29. The risk manager at my former place of employment made me clear boxes from my office and under my desk, saying that clutter makes you more stressed, whether you’re conscious of it or not. I’ve found that he was right. I can imagine that it would be similar for children.

    Comment by McSwain | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  30. My son’s room is tidy. There are some nights when there is no time to put away the toys before he goes to sleep. I don’t think he cares either way.
    He sleeps OK. He now wakes at 12 & at 3. He is 16 months.

    Comment by mamabones | February 26, 2007 | Reply

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