When it comes to decorating your bedroom, there are many things to take into consideration. Style, of course, but also function. Are you using your space in the best possible way? Do you have enough storage? Does it look cool? But there’s one more thing you should take into account next time you’re doing a little redecorating: your sleep.
There are so many different factors that can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. Lifestyle choices are a big contributor, as are the products most directly connected to sleep (like your mattress, pillow and bed frame). But don’t forget that your bedroom environment plays a major role as well. Things like wall color, lighting and even the layout of your room can affect your mood, stress level and ability to get the sleep you really need.
Color Affects Your Mood
Simply going about your day to day life, you are sure to notice how color can affect your mood. Some colors just make you feel happier, while others can seem more depressing or sultry or exciting. And there’s research to back those feelings up! Cooler colors have shorter wavelengths, which have been shown to evoke more relaxing feelings than warmers colors like red, which can be more stimulating. One report from the University of Kentucky even found exposure to blue and green was correlated with calming physical responses, including lower pulse rate and blood pressure.
Beyond just the color itself, you also have to take into account its particular saturation and brightness as well. The saturation refers to the purity of the color, while the brightness refers to its relative lightness or darkness. Colors that are highly saturated but less bright (think: jewel tones) can be energizing, while those that are bright but less saturated (like a bright sage green) are known to be more relaxing.
Color Affects Your Temperature
Research has also shown that rooms painted in warmer colors, like reds and oranges, can actually make us feel like the temperature is warmer than ones painted with cool colors like blues and greens. Recently, the paint brand Valspar teamed up with the head of Crossmodal Research Laboratory to explore this phenomenon. The participants were placed in three separate rooms; each one was set to the ambient temperature of 66° F, but painted different colors. When asked to record the temperature they felt in their room, 28% felt coolest in the one painted navy blue.
This small survey reinforces an idea that color plays a big role in shaping our perceptions. The color of your bedroom walls may not only impact how hot or cold you feel, they can also affect how calm or relaxed you are when you get into bed at night—and how much sleep you end up getting.
Color Affects Your Sleep
Given all of these different factors, much of the research suggests that cooler colors are best for the bedroom, like blue or green. In fact, according to a 2013 survey from Travelodge, participants who slept in bedrooms painted blue slept the longest and woke up the happiest out of any other wall color.
If you can’t actually paint your bedroom walls, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to incorporate color into your room through furniture, bedding and art.
Light plays a big role in your sleep quality, in part because light plays a big role in your brain’s ability to tell time. All humans have an internal clock that reflects the normal cycles of the day: it tells us when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to wake up. And this part of the brain is directly affected by light. When it starts to get dark in the evening, this sends signals to our brain to start getting ready for sleep—it promotes melatonin and drops our body temperature. The morning light helps reverse these chemical shifts to help us wake up and feel alert.
Of course, we don’t rely on natural light alone anymore—and artificial lights can throw a wrench in this very natural cycle. This can especially be a problem for city dwellers. Bright street lights or car headlights streaming in your windows at night can make it more difficult to fall or stay asleep—which may mean that it’s time to swap out your gauzy white curtains for something a little more substantial. Lack of light can also cause problems. Not getting enough sunlight in the mornings can make it more difficult to wake up. If that’s the case for you, investing in a smart alarm clock light may do the trick.
Placement Of Your Bed
This is the section where we’re going to veer a little bit away from hard science, so bear with us. When it comes to arranging the furniture of your bedroom, you want it to be both stylish and functional. Does all of your stuff fit nicely? Can you easily get around? If you don’t have an eye for decorating, it can be hard to decide what should go where. And that is where feng shui can come in.
Feng shui is described as “a practice of looking at our living spaces and working environment and striking a balance with the natural world.” It offers specific design principles that are said to help promote the uninhibited flow of energy throughout your home and improve your overall quality of life.
And according to feng shui, the position of your bed is very important to this energy flow. The correct placement is supposed to help generate feelings of security, balance and stability. Architect and certified feng shui consultant Anjie Cho recommends placing your bed in such a way that, when you are lying down, you can easily see the door—without being directly in front of it. She also suggests that the bed should be placed against a solid wall (not windows)—and you should always invest in a headboard.
While there is little hard evidence that following these guidelines will bring instant harmony into your life, the logic around your bed does make some sense. If you’re unable to see the door from your bed, your mind may, on some level, feel a little unsafe—which will keep you from really falling into a deep sleep. At the very least, following some feng shui guidelines can give you some helpful direction if you’re stressed about what should go where.
Of course, none of these kinds of design elements will definitively make or break your sleep. And they shouldn’t be prioritized over good sleep hygiene habits or products that offer proper comfort and support. But simply taking them into account may help you adjust your mindset about sleep—from an annoying afterthought to a rejuvenating nightly ritual. And that may have even more of an impact on your sleep than you ever imagined.