We spend a third of our life in bed. Some of this time is not necessarily spent sleeping, but nevertheless, our bedroom should be conducive to sleep or it is very difficult to drift into the Land of Nod.
Often, bedrooms are last on the list when it comes to interior design. We pour time and attention into downstairs rooms but neglect the bedroom on the basis that nobody actually sees it apart from us.
This is a mistake. Just because your friends are not privy to your bedroom, it doesn’t mean you should ignore its décor. An untidy, unloved bedroom with peeling wallpaper and stacked high with ironing and junk, is hardly relaxing. In fact, it could be directly responsible for your insomnia!
Here are some simple tips to help you design your bedroom for sleep. Most are inexpensive, so you can tackle them in a weekend and without blowing a fortune on your credit card.
Avoid harsh lighting
Bedrooms can be tricky to light as they are often a multi-purpose room. A central pendant light is the most common type of bedroom light in a modern home, but pendant lighting is harsh. If you can, do away with a pendant light and replace it with wall lights.
If this isn’t an option, look for a beautiful chandelier or feature light and install a dimmer switch so you can turn down the light. Alternatively, fit a light-coloured shade with a warm LED bulb so it isn’t too harsh.
Recessed lighting works well in a bedroom. Fit recessed lights in wardrobes or below wall storage units.
Bedside lamps are essential, especially if you love to read a book before you go to sleep. Look for height adjustable lamps that won’t disturb your partner when you are engrossed in the latest bestseller. Some people prefer a wall-mounted reading light, but make sure it is positioned at the right height and the bulb is shaded.
Don’t forget about decorative lighting, too. String lights look very pretty when threaded around a headboard or over a dressing table. You can pick up string lights very cheaply from discount stores. Choose coloured LED string lights to match your décor and replace when the bulbs eventually wear out.
Turn your brain off – mentally unplug
It is impossible to sleep when your brain is racing at two hundred miles an hour and you are mentally reviewing your in-tray for the following day. Unfortunately, technology is our enemy in this regard.
Most people take any number of electronic devices to bed. They lie next to their partner, scanning through social media posts, reading the news, or catching up on emails. This makes it extremely difficult to switch off and go to sleep.
We need time to wind down and prepare for sleep, so it is a good idea to ban electronic devices from the bedroom in anticipation of sleep. The world won’t stop if you leave your smartphone or iPad downstairs. Although it might feel like it for a few days!
Get into the mindset that your bedroom is a haven of rest and relaxation. Ban work and other mentally stimulating activities. Do not have a TV in your bedroom either. The light emitted from electronic devices, including televisions, disrupts the melatonin levels in the brain and can cause serious sleep problems.
Implement a bedtime routine to prepare your body and mind for bed. Take a hot bath, light some aromatherapy candles in the bedroom, listen to soothing chillout music, settle down in bed, read a chapter of a good book (hint: violent crime thrillers are not relaxing), and then turn the lights out ready for sleep. If you stick to the same routine each night, you will sleep like a baby.
Selecting the right pillow
Pillow choice is largely a matter of personal taste. Some people prefer soft pillows whereas others like a firm pillow. It also depends on how you sleep.
Match your pillow to your sleep position. A side sleeper needs a firm pillow to cushion their neck. A front sleeper is close to the mattress, so they need a thin pillow. Back sleepers benefit from a pillow that offers medium support, such as a memory foam pillow.
Best colours to promote sleep
Bold, bright colours may work well in the living room, but crimson red or lime green is a bad choice for the bedroom. Instead, stick to pale pastels and soothing shades.
Pale grey is fashionable and romantic. Pale blue is soothing and relaxing. In general, the softer the shade, the more relaxing it will feel. If you prefer bolder colours, don’t be despondent. You can introduce a bolder shade as an accent colour.
For example, try a bold colour on one wall or invest in bright, colourful bedding or a blind for the window. If you use black, make sure it is well balanced out with lighter colours, or your bedroom will feel too oppressive.
Choosing the right mattress is just as important as selecting a pillow that matches your sleep position. A good mattress should support your body, yet be comfortable enough to soothe you to sleep. It needs to let your shoulders and hips sink in, whilst supporting your side and waist.
The wrong mattress, whether it is too soft or too firm, will cause you to wake up several times each night, which is hardly relaxing or restful.
Test out different mattresses to see how comfortable they feel, preferably for at least 20-minutes. It is best to spend as much as you can afford on a high-quality mattress. Mattresses made from breathable materials prevent you from overheating at night, but if you suffer from allergies, look for a hypoallergic mattress.