An endearing phrase we use often use on tucking our little ones in at night, ‘sleep tight’ is believed to have its origins in bygone days when mattresses were supported by ropes laced across wooden bed frames, those ropes requiring on occasion to be tightened to ensure a sound night’s sleep. It was those same days that we were up with the sparrows, our sleep patterns much more in tune with nature.
Today, the world sleep epidemic is fast becoming a major health challenge and scientists are quite certain that we need sleep, in the same way that we need water and oxygen. ‘Sleep is not an optional lifestyle luxury but a non-negotiable biological necessity’ says Matthew Walker, author of ‘Why we Sleep’. And being a professor of neuroscience, he should know. Extended working days and long commutes, the ever-increasing temptation to check our screens and modern lighting that bathes us in artificial light way past the hour when the sparrows are tucked up in their nests, are all messing with our body clocks.
But there is something of a rebellion going on – you only need to Google ‘sleep revolution’ to find any number of books, Ted Talks and scientific papers dedicated to sleep and why we need to get more of it. So instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, al la Thatcher who famously bragged that ‘sleep is for wimps’, we should be turning our attentions to the bedroom, making sure it is designed to give us the best chance of a good night’s sleep. Sleep improves our wellbeing, our happiness and ultimately makes us better at being us.
From an interior design perspective, there are many things we can do to make our bedrooms more conducive to sleep. Once the room where nobility entertained, our bedrooms are now private spaces, our sanctuaries. The place we go to reset and refresh.
Bedroom Space Planning
- Position your bed so that it is easily approached from both sides.
- Balance the room with a bedside table on each side of the bed.
- Position your bed diagonally opposite & furthest from the door. Our innate human instincts dictate that when we feel safest when furthest away from the cave entrance where we can see what is approaching!
- According to the principles of feng shui, placing your bed so that you sleep in a westerly direction will afford you the best night’s sleep.
- Limit the amount of furniture in your room so as not to clutter the space – a divan bed will keep any under-bed storage out of sight.
- Good storage for clothes and other possessions will also allow your bedroom to remain clutter free, allowing you to switch off at night.
- Buy the best mattress you can afford. As we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed, a great bed is a wise investment. Buy the best, buy once.
Bedroom Air Quality & Temperature
- Ensure your room is well ventilated and give it a quick blast of fresh air before turning in to improve the air quality.
- Open a window, turn down radiators or set your thermostat to 18°C, the optimum sleep temperature for a comfortable night.
- Natural essential oils can help aid a restful sleep, especially lavender, which can help decrease heart rate & cedar wood, which helps the body release melatonin. It is important that they are essential oils however, and not fragrances which may contain toxic additives.
Reduce Bedroom Noise & Light Pollution
- Use dimmable lighting in a bedroom and/or bedside reading lights with a colour temperature that errs towards warm white rather than blue white, imitating natural light at sunset.
- Make sure outside lights are eliminated with a suitable window treatment – black out blinds, curtains with a thick lining or a combination of both.
- Window treatments can also help with noise reduction as fabrics absorb sound. Use as many noise absorbing materials as possible in the bedroom: carpet, fabric wall hangings, felted furniture, upholstered headboard and cushions.
- Consider double-glazing to reduce street noise.
- Paint your room a calming shade. Skin tones or nude shades are a good starting point – from deep brown to palest pink.
- Avoid too much pattern in the bedroom, or limit it to behind the bed so that you are not distracted by it when winding down for sleep.
- If you can, use natural bedding made from cotton, linen and wool. Natural fibres help regulate body temperature while you sleep.
- Bedding made using natural fabric dyes not only contain fewer toxins, but have a restful muted colour palette more conducive to sleep.
- Weightier bedding is thought to reduce anxiety and insomnia, so layer up or use a mixture of sheets & blankets to achieve the right balance for you.
Alongside the interior design of your bedroom, maybe introduce a few bedtime rituals to ready your body for a sound night.
- Wind down and prepare your body for sleep: turn off screens an hour before bedtime, dim the lights and do something relaxing like reading, meditating or listening to music.
- Take a bath before bedtime. Your body temperature will be raised then lowered as you hop out, mimicking the natural drop in body temperature that occurs when our brains ready our bodies for sleep.
- Go to bed and get up at around the same time each day, even in the holidays, as this helps your body establish a regular sleep rhythm.
If you would like help designing your very own sleep sanctuary, childs bedroom or nursery, please do get in touch. You may be interested in our pocket-friendly online design service which you can learn more about here.