Our bedrooms can tend to be the neglected rooms of our house, with mismatching colour schemes and full of clutter. We tend to prioritise the social areas of the house like the living room and kitchen for makeovers… and our own bedroom can be last on the “to do” list. However, your bedroom should be your top priority when decorating and fitting out your home. It is the place you spend at least 1/3 of each day and should be your sanctuary to recharge. A well thought out bedroom created with care will help you to sleep well and feel calm and happy every day.
Here are a few things to think about when planning your perfect bedroom.
Something as simple as the colour of your walls can have an effect on how long you sleep and how you feel when you wake up. A recent survey suggested that people sleep the longest (7 hours 52 minutes) when their bedroom is painted blue, relative to other colours. They found that 58% of people with blue bedrooms regularly woke up feeling happy. This could be because the colour blue is associated with feeling calm. In contrast, people whose bedrooms were painted red or purple regularly slept less than 7 hours per night. These warmer tones are stimulating and energising colours, increasing your heart rate and making it harder for you to switch off and relax at night. If blue is not really your colour, then consider a more neutral, earth or skin-based tone which will be more calming, and promote positive energy flow according to feng shui. Also, it is important to note that having your walls painted blue does not affect your sleep in the same way as “blue-frequency” light emitted from LED devices, suppressing your melatonin production – they are two very different things.
The national sleep foundation (NSF) suggests evaluating the condition of your mattress every seven years or so. If your bed itself is old and uncomfortable then you will struggle to drift off to sleep when you are repeatedly aware of backaches or even rogue bed-springs sticking into your back! A good mattress should support your body while being comfortable enough for you to feel relaxed. Your shoulders and hips should sink into the mattress, with your back supported, so that your spine itself stays straight, instead of being curved. If your mattress is too soft or too firm, then you will wake up during the night as you try to get comfortable. The Sleep Council has an online MOT check to see if you might benefit from a new bed https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/bed-mot/ . Since the average person spends close to 3,000 hours a year in bed, this is one bedroom update that is worth the splurge.
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Although having numerous pillows and cushions piled up on your bed may look lovely and inviting, for most people one pillow is usually sufficient. When you use only one pillow this enables your spine and neck to stay in a neutral position, rather than causing your chin to point toward your chest or toward the ceiling. If you use two pillows, you may wake up with a sore neck as your head may be raised too high relative to your spine. However, the type of pillow you use changes with your sleeping style – a side sleeper may benefit from a memory foam pillow, whilst a back sleeper may need a thinner pillow.
The material, colour and weight of your bedding can have an impact on your sleep. Generally, natural fibres such as cotton and linen will help to wick away any perspiration on warmer nights, making your bed more comfortable to sleep. With man made fibres such as polyester, moisture can stay on the surface of the fabric making you feel damp and uncomfortable. As with bedroom colour, you may find that blue or neutral colours would be the most calming to promote sleep. A new set of covers, cushions or a throw can be a cheaper way to add some of these calming sleep-inducing colours to your bedroom compared to a full bedroom makeover. It is important to physically go to the shop so that you can touch and feel the fabrics to learn what appeals to you.
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Your room should be a haven for relaxation. If your room is cluttered, then this can promote feelings of stress and anxiety which will hinder sleep. Piles of laundry, work and general mess lying around will make you think of everything you need to do instead of drifting off to sleep. Many people sleep better in a hotel room and one reason for this may be because hotel rooms tend to be tidy, decorated beautifully and less cluttered. An ideal bedroom will not double up as your office or TV watching room, so that there are no distractions when it is time to sleep. If you do need to work in your bedroom then perhaps invest in a beautiful room divider to help hide the workspace, or make sure that your desk is tidy, and your laptop is stored in a drawer overnight.
Sight and touch are not your only senses. Smell is a wonderful way to emote feelings of relaxation and calm. Fragrances like lavender, vanilla and jasmine may help you to relax while also improving sleep quality. You can use an air freshener or, even better, use a diffuser with essential oils to fill your room with beautiful, relaxing, luxurious smells.
The temperature of your room is also really important for a good night’s sleep. As you fall asleep, your body temperature naturally drops. Therefore, if your bedroom is too hot, then your body temperature will struggle to drop which will hinder sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is cool enough and that your bed does not make you too hot. Consider sleeping with a window open, or making sure that your mattress and covers allow air to circulate instead of making you too hot and sweaty.
The lighting level of your bedroom also affects sleep. It is hard to sleep during the daytime because bright daylight suppresses our natural melatonin production – the hormone that promotes sleep. Bright artificial lighting in your house in the time leading up to bedtime can also disrupt melatonin production. Make sure that you have thick enough curtains or blinds to keep your room dark at night. Also, in the time leading up to bedtime, dim the lighting to help your brain get used to a lower light level – telling yourself that it is night and will soon be time for sleep. Perhaps you could install a dimmer switch for your overhead lighting, use lamps or light some lavender scented candles to help create a relaxing atmosphere conducive to sleep. Make sure you blow the candles out before actually falling asleep though!
When we are trying to drift off to sleep, noises like traffic or people outside can disrupt us from properly falling asleep. If you struggle with noise, you could try closing your window (as long as your room is not too hot) or facing your bed away from any windows that open onto a busy street to lessen the effect of lights or noise on your sleep. Also, if noise continues to be a problem then you could use a white noise machine or an app that generates a low level calming sound such as rainfall or the wind to disguise the outside noise. I don’t generally advise falling asleep listening to spoken word books as they can wake you up again as you fall asleep.
You spend 1/3 of your life sleeping and therefore you should make your bedroom a priority to help you sleep well and wake feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Try using a few of these tips to transform your bedroom from a neglected dumping ground into a haven of peace, relaxation and comfort where you look forward to going at the end of the day.
Dr Lindsay Browning is a sleep expert and Chartered Psychologist who offers help to people of all ages with sleeping difficulties at her private practice Trouble Sleeping. www.troublesleeping.co.uk