The physical space in which you sleep can have a major effect on how much sleep you get, and the quality of that sleep. Along with considerations such as lighting, room temperature, and noise, basic design elements such as the color of paint on the walls or fabric of the bed sheets can affect your sleep experience.
It’s no coincidence that some people sleep better in hotel rooms than they do at home. Hotels generally feature fewer furniture items, and those that are included are usually arranged in a way that feels relaxing. It’s not exactly a new concept: The ancient Chinese principle of feng shui emphasizes configuring personal spaces to be in harmony with those in it.
To work a little harmony into your own home, position your bed as far from the doorway as possible. You might also face it away from any windows that open onto a busy street to lessen the effect of lights or noise on your sleep (and if noise is still an issue, a white noise machine can do wonders). Remove extra side tables, chairs, or redundant mirrors that make the space feel cluttered.
The color you choose for your bedroom walls can influence how ready you are for sleep. Warm tones such as reds or bright yellows are believed to have an energizing effect, possibly even increasing a person’s heart rate in response. On the other hand, cooler or more neutral hues such as blue, cream, and beige can have a relaxing effect. In fact, people with blue-colored bedrooms tend to sleep longer than those without the soothing backdrop.
The influence of color on feelings of sleepiness is due to specialized receptors in the retina of your eyes called ganglion cells. These cells are responsible for relaying information to the part of your brain that controls your body’s circadian rhythm, which affects when you feel alert or sleepy. Ganglion cells are most sensitive to the color blue, which is associated with feelings of calm. When blue-hued items are picked up by ganglion cells and relayed to the brain, it helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate, all of which help you receive a solid night’s sleep.
Choosing the right window treatment can also go a long way toward enhancing your bedroom’s sleep appeal. Blackout curtains are cut from thick, opaque fabrics— including polyester or an insulated weave — and are reinforced with extra lining to block out external light. They tend to be sized long enough and wide enough to offer full coverage around the windowpane (not just the window itself).
Bedding fabric is another important variable. Natural fibers such as cotton and linen will help wick away perspiration or moisture on warmer nights, making your bed more comfortable to sleep. Your best bet: Be sure to touch the fabric before you buy. You may find that you prefer the soft or silky, heavy or lightweight feel. High thread count or not, nothing is as good as your own senses when it comes to determining what sheet is right for you.
Making over a bedroom is about more than just the visual: How a space smells can also affect the quality of a person’s sleep. Consider infusing your space with an essential oil diffuser. Lavender, vanilla, and jasmine aromas have all been found to have relaxing, anxiety-easing, sleep-enhancing effects.
Of course, no bedroom makeover is complete without addressing the bed itself. NSF suggests evaluating the condition of your mattress every seven years or so. There are multitudes of styles and special features to consider and given that the average person spends close to 3,000 hours a year in bed, this is one bedroom update that is worth the splurge.