If you’re like most people, you probably have no shortage of stress in your life. Between career, family, and other concerns, a good night’s sleep can seem almost impossible to get. The "Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine" estimates that 30% of adults suffer from insomnia. Sleep is essential to health, well-being, and mental functioning, so getting a full night is important in both the short and long-term. Researchers at the National Sleep Foundation estimate that adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night for optimal cognitive functioning, and a lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems.
While there are many ways to improve your sleep duration and quality, one of the simplest is designing your bedroom for optimal sleep. With a few small changes, your bedroom can become a haven from the stresses of daily life, a place to relax, escape, and -- most importantly -- get some much-needed zzzzzzs.
Lower the Lights
Light has a major impact on sleep quality. CNN reports that blue light, the kind emitted from smartphones, tablets, and computer screens, can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, so it’s best to reduce exposure in the hours before bed. Red light is least disruptive to sleep, so using red light bulbs in the bedroom makes it easier to fall asleep. Red light bulbs can be fitted into most light fixtures, so they are an easy way to dramatically improve sleep quality.
Less light means more sleep, so lower light in the bedroom is best. However, if you need more light in your bedroom during the day, there are a few ways to create light effects that allow low light in the evening and normal light earlier in the day. The Better Sleep Council notes that installing dimmer switches lets you change light levels as needed, with just the touch of a switch. If you have an overhead light, avoid turning it on before bed time. Instead, use tabletop or floor lamps with red light bulbs to create a bedtime-specific light scheme.
Because even a little bit of light can disrupt sleep, window coverings are an important consideration as you create your sleep sanctuary. If drawing your curtains doesn’t help, you may want to consider installing blackout curtains to keep external lights out. If you prefer the appearance of your current window dressing, blackout curtain liner fabric can be applied to the back of drapes. Solid panel shutters are another option for keeping light out at night. If you have trouble waking up in the morning without light streaming through a window, consider an alarm clock with an attached light.
Colors have subtle but profound effects on mood, and simply changing the color of your bedroom can make you feel more relaxed and ready for sleep. “Real Simple” magazine says that cool colors, like muted blues, pale greens, light yellows, and silver, promote calm and serenity. Bright, stimulating colors, like red and purple, are more activating and can make sleep more difficult. Perhaps surprisingly, white should also be avoided. Matte, rather than glossy, finishes are also more relaxing. Of course, personal preference plays a role here, too, so choose a color that you like and makes you feel peaceful.
If you don’t want to paint your room, these same color principles can be applied to furniture and decoration. Paintings featuring a blue ocean, or a nature scene, for instance, can provide a soothing touch. Light blue bedding will relax both body and mind. Decorative items like curtains or cushions can also be purchased in soft colors.
Keep it Simple
We all know the feeling of lying awake worrying. A cluttered space can have the same effect on sleep as a busy mind. Decorating your room in a simple, serene manner can calm your senses, and make stepping into your room an invitation to relax and sleep. Ideally, your bedroom should be used primarily for sleeping and winding down in the evening, so there is no need for a lot of furniture. Your bed, a night table or two, and a dresser is probably all you need. Shelving areas that attract clutter should be kept out of the bedroom if possible. Since some people sleep better in cool temperatures and with some white noise, one thing This Old House suggests adding to your room is a ceiling fan.
Since watching TV before bed can delay sleep onset, keeping your TV in another room is best. However, if you do keep a TV in the bedroom, you may want to keep it in an entertainment center with doors that close. That way, when you close the doors to go to bed, you signal your mind and body that it’s time for bed. Light from phones, computer screens, and even digital clocks can affect sleep quality, so if you have trouble sleeping, you may wish to remove these items from your bedroom.
Peace and Harmony for A Good Night’s Rest
The way you arrange your furniture should promote peace and well-being. Avoid having your bed facing doors or windows, as this creates stress and may disrupt sleep. Although you should avoid keeping too many things in your room, make sure that you have any items you need easily within reach. Think about what you may actually need in the night, and place anything necessary on the nightstand. This creates a sense of security and reduces worry.
Once you’ve created your sleep sanctuary, enjoy it! Take time to bask in the haven you’ve created, and then -- sleep easy.
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