How to create a sleep-friendly bedroom

Interior design isn’t just about style and taste – it’s important to create a home that fulfils its core functions. And when it comes to the bedroom, that means helping you to have the best possible night’s sleep.

Several factors in your bedroom can help you get a good night’s sleep, including carefully selecting the palette. Soft, natural tones, such as this pastel bedroom, are considered the best option. Courtesy Norsu Interiors
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Buy a better mattress

If there’s one thing you should be spending decent money on, it’s a mattress. Ordering over the internet is a real no-no – you absolutely have to go and test it out in person to see whether it will give you the correct amount of support. If a shop offers a trial period at home, grab it. Do your research on the options available – foam or latex mattresses, for example, are usually durable and breathable, making them an ideal choice if you’re allergic to house dust mites. Memory-foam mattresses that mould to the shape of your body are very popular, but they do reduce air circulation, so can make you feel warmer in bed – not ideal on sweltering summer nights.

And a better pillow

There’s no use having a comfortable body if your head and neck are uncomfortable, right? Again, the type you choose is up to personal taste and requirements, but be sure to have a look around at all the different options. There are various levels of thickness and firmness, as well as different filler materials, such as down, feather and synthetic foam. There are also more unusual types, such as wedge pillows, H-shaped neck pillows, contoured and memory-­foam pillows. Even if you’re happy with the one you’ve got, you might want to think about how old it is. By the time a pillow is six years old, between 10 per cent and 25 per cent of its weight may be made up of dust mites and their by-products.

Choose restful colours

Colour psychologists tell us that every colour has its own unique characteristics that can significantly affect the way we feel, emotionally and physically. Red, for example, is a stimulating colour, which makes it a poor choice for a bedroom. Instead go for soft, natural tones such as sage green and pastel blue. Which one of these shades you choose is up to you, though – the key to colour psychology is not to look at colours in isolation but think about how you interact with them as an individual. If your hated old school uniform was navy blue, for example, you might not want to be surrounded by it as you try to relax before bed.

Get your lighting right

Light has a huge role to play in our sleeping habits. As the night falls, a part of our brain called the pineal gland is stimulated to release melatonin, which helps us get into sleep mode, but bright lights inhibit the release of this important hormone. So while you might want a nice bright light to help you pick out your clothes and apply your make-up before a night out, a bedroom should also include softer lighting that helps your body make the natural transition towards sleep.

Bedside lights with different brightness settings are a great option if you like to wind down by reading in bed, and also mean you won’t have to get up again to switch the lights off when you’re ready to drift off. But don’t make the mistake of reading from a tablet, smartphone, laptop or light-emitting e-reader, as the blue light from these devices mimics daylight and is therefore stimulating, keeping you awake for longer.

Kill ambient light

Once you’re ready to go to sleep, you’ll no doubt switch off the lights, close your eyes and assume you’re in darkness. But you’ll be surprised by how many sources of ambient light there are. The street lights outside – and even moon and starlight if it’s bright enough – can create a strong glow, even through curtains. Blackout blinds or curtains will help cut this particular source. Within the room, make sure that electronic gadgets are well covered – something as simple as the charging light from a mobile phone plugged in near your bed can break through shallow sleep, and that glow-in-the-dark alarm clock is definitely a no-no.

Keep it clean

While cleanliness is obviously a welcome quality throughout the home, it’s particularly important in the bedroom to ensure a good night’s sleep. Vacuum regularly to avoid sneeze-inducing dust, and be sure the room is aired so there are no stuffy smells disturbing you as you wind down for bed. Turn and vacuum your mattress regularly to keep the air circulating, too. There are also psychological benefits to keeping things clean and tidy – think how much easier it is to drift off when you’re not surrounded by piles of clutter, clothes that should be in the laundry basket, and so on.

Keep it cool

Deep sleep occurs when our body temperature drops, so when it’s still baking hot at midnight, it can be incredibly ­difficult to get a good night’s rest. Anything you can do to reduce the temperature in your room will help. During the day, keep the blinds or curtains drawn to prevent heat entering the room in the first place, and make sure you choose light, natural bedding (cool, breathable cotton is ideal), rather than naturally insulating or synthetic fabrics (wool or polyester, for example) that will make you sweat. You could even freeze a half-filled hot-water bottle to create a soothing in-bed ice pack.

Don’t multitask

You might have a dining table in your kitchen or a computer station in your guest room, but try to keep your bedroom as a single-function room. That way, when you walk into it at night, your brain will associate it with sleep, rather than work or any other activity. Create a ritual as you prepare for bed, giving yourself time to wind down, so that by the time you’re ready to shut your eyes, you’ll be able to drift straight off to sleep with no problems at all.

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