A Bedroom Designed for Better Sleep.

How to design your bedroom for better sleep.

Each room in your home has its own purpose.  Mentally look round your home now and you’ll see that some rooms are for sharing with people you know socially, others are for working in, some house children’s play and some you share with people you know intimately.  And as you look around you’ll see how you’ve designed each room with its purpose in mind.

Often we keep the ‘public’ rooms – dining room, lounge area and possibly the kitchen – tidy and ready for guests.  They have the best furnishings and lighting, the neatest arrangements and newest gadgets etc because we feel that people might be judging us on how these rooms are presented.

But what about our bedrooms?  Are these areas neglected and considered ‘dumping grounds’ for the stuff that doesn’t have a home in another part of the house?  Imagine there is a leak in the roof and flood at your house while you are on holiday.  Your neighbour goes in to see what damage has been caused so that she can call the repair people.  She needs to go into your bedroom – what would she see?

Is your bedroom filled with clothes that don’t have a cupboard/closet to live in, fitness equipment, computers and work-related stuff, kids’ toys and all sorts of stuff that has nothing to do with a good night’s sleep?  Well think about it.  We spend more time in the bedroom than anywhere else – the fact that we should be unconscious for most of that time shouldn’t stop us from making the bedroom beautiful.  And if you’re not unconscious when you should be, think about whether the design of the room might be contributing to that problem.

7 steps to putting it right.

How do you feel when you walk into your bedroom and look around?  Do it now – we’ll be right here when you get back.

So?  Did you feel frazzled and stressed because there’s a work file in there that needs attention?  Anxious and confused because you’ve lost your keys and know they’re in there somewhere?  Depressed because you’ve been meaning to use the treadmill that’s covered in clothes/decorate/tidy up/vacuum/all of the above for ages?

None of these emotions are compatible with a good night’s sleep I’m sure you’ll agree.  But whether you live in a bed-sitting room or a mansion, there are changes you can make that will make sleep come more easily.

  1. Tidy up.  If you’re not naturally tidy this can seem like a real chore but if you’re sleeping badly then that’s probably not much fun either.  So invest half an hour or so, play some energetic music, and get tidying.  If you want more hints and tips on de-cluttering then look here, including what to do with the stuff you no longer want

Only have what is beautiful, practical or meaningful on display in your bedroom.

While you’re tidying up, if at all possible, remove all exercise equipment, work-related stuff, computers and TV/DVD players.  Sometimes this can be a big deal because there’s nowhere else for them to live or you like watching TV and doing last minute emails in bed.  But TV and computers are sleep-killers because they keep your mind active.  Do a trial without them for 2 weeks and see if you sleep better as a result of moving them.

If you can’t find other homes for things you want to remove from the bedroom, go to point 4 below – furniture and storage solutions.

  1. Colour.  Once a room is painted or papered we take no conscious notice of it.  However our unconscious notices and bright colours that are associated with wakefulness and energy won’t let sleep come easily.

Choose a colour that’s light but makes you feel safe and warm and – obviously – a colour that you like from a palette you want to live with.  Colour therapists say that greens are good for relaxation and calm.

  1. Lighting.  Bright overhead lights are fine in the dining room when you want to see what you’re eating but not so great in the bedroom when you want to relax.  However there is a place for overhead lighting as well as low lights.  When you dress or put on make-up you want to make sure that you’re going to be looked at for all the right reasons when you go out.  But at night, think relaxation and use lamps.  Bedside lights and standard lamps with low wattage bulbs (40 Watts) will give this effect.  Or if you can, perhaps a dimmer switch on the main light would be a good addition.  Have switches close to hand – there’s nothing worse than having to get out of a warm bed into a cold room to turn the light off.
  1. Furniture and storage.  It goes without saying that your bed is the most important piece of furniture in the bedroom.  Buy the best bed base and mattress you can afford as these are an investment in your sleep and your health.  Look here for advice on mattress buying and here to find out if your bed is stopping you from sleeping.

Storage for the things that are gathering dust and making clutter should be simple and easy on the eye.  Look for closets/cupboards or boxes in natural colours or in the colour palette you’ve chosen.  Sets of boxes, storage seats or divan beds with storage drawers will help you put away everything you don’t need on a regular basis.  This will reduce the visual clutter and the stress that translates into in your mind.

  1. Good ventilation.  If windows have been painted shut then get professional help to un-stick them.  Once they can be opened, put security locks on them to prevent theft from your home and use mosquito nets if bugs are a problem in your area.
  2. The right temperature.  This can be achieved by getting the right bedding (more or less of it, the right weight of duvet) and/or adding a fan, open window, air conditioner, heater or extra radiator.
  3. The right smell.  Good ventilation will help to keep the room fresh and candles or air fresheners will perfume your bedroom.  If you have allergies be careful that some perfumes aren’t making your symptoms worse.  Some smells evoke memories for us – good and bad – so make sure yours are all good and relaxing.

For other ideas on bedroom planning, look at our article on Feng Shui for bedrooms.

We all live on a budget these days so getting all this done with the money available can be difficult.  However think outside the square a little.  Here are some ideas;

  • Look on eBay or other online auctions.
  • Join your local Freecycle (Google ‘freecycle + your local area’ for a group near you) and see what other people are giving away or make a post on what you’re looking for
  • Use price comparison websites
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle if you’re in a store – especially towards the end of the shopping day or near the end of the month (when salespeople want to make a sale to make their commission) or season when stock will change
  • Go to charity shops/goodwill stores that sell second hand goods.  Inspect items thoroughly, especially furniture and wash things thoroughly when you get them home
  • Watch for sale times on sites like Amazon.com.

Elspeth Raisbeck

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