What’s the one room of the house where you want the decor to be a snoozefest? The bedroom.
Without a restful space, getting a good night’s sleep is nearly impossible and you need that sleep to be your best. According to the National Sleep Foundation's 2015 Sleep in America poll, released Tuesday to kick off National Sleep Week, good sleep is key to good health.
By decorating your bedroom to optimize a hearty slumber, you’ll be making sleep a priority, and people who do that have better sleep quality, according to the poll. To help you out, we asked a sleep expert and an interior designer for their tips on how to create a heavenly haven for slumber. Ready, set, dream!
1. Surround yourself with relaxing colors
Fire-engine red or electric blue may be your favorite color, but keep them out of the bedroom.
“Colors in a bedroom should envelope you to create a warm and cozy cocoon,” says interior designer Courtney Lake, principal of Monogram Decor in San Francisco. “I prefer soft and muted colors in bedrooms with grey tones. Think the warm colors you see during sunset if you are looking for color inspiration.”
2. Add calming aromas
Incorporating fragrant plants, scented candles or diffused essential oils into your bedroom’s design can help you fall asleep.
“Any fragrance that makes you calm and relaxed — lavender, vanilla and jasmine — can promote sleep,” says Dr. Natalie Dautovich, who focuses on the important role that one’s bedroom environment plays in achieving and maintaining a good night’s sleep.
“Your olfactory system is directly linked to the emotional center in your brain, so when you sniff something that brings back a good memory, your body releases feel-good, relaxing chemicals that can set the stage for great sleep,” Dautovich says, adding that buying a fragrant candle or spraying your pillow with an essential oil could help do the trick.
3. Plan lighting wisely
Lowered lighting signals to our brains that the day has come to a close, so mimic a setting sun in your overhead fixtures and bedside lamps. Dimming the lights about an hour before bed will tell your brain it’s time to shift into sleep mode, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
“Dimmer switches are a no-brainer. For less than $15, you can do so much to help you relax and ease into rest,” Lake says. In addition to dimmers, Lake only uses 60-to-75-watt bulbs in lamps, and switches to candlelight before bedtime — extinguishing flames before falling asleep, of course.
“The soft flickering flame is so calming and relaxing before bed,” he says. Flameless candles are also an option.
4. Hang light-blocking curtains and shades
If your bedroom isn’t pitch black at midnight, you need to re-evaulate your curtains or shades, Dautovich says.
“Light pollution reflects and refracts light, which eliminates the darkness that cues our bodies to sleep,” she says. “So consider blackout curtains if you’re having trouble sleeping. Fabrics enforced with light-blocking properties can make it easy to take back the darkness and get deeper, more restorative sleep.”
5. Cover your bed in bedding you love
According to National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 survey, nine out of 10 Americans rated the comfortable feel of sheets and bedding as important to getting a good night’s rest.
“Thread count should be between 300 and 440 and look to the pick, ply, weave and type of cotton. It should be extra-long staple cotton,” Lake says. “I love the look of crisp white bedding but that can be boring, so I always ensure that there is some visual interest whether it’s unexpected prints on sheeting and duvets or fun accent pillows." For affordable bedding, Lake often looks to the online retailer Crane and Canopy "because they offer bedding in both solid and patterned options without the middleman markup.”
Experts also say you should buy new bedding every 18 to 24 months because, like with any fabric, repeated washings negatively affect how it feels. If that’s not in your budget, opt for just new pillowcases for a fresh feel.
6. Don’t go overboard with pillows
All those decorative throw pillows on the bed sure are pretty when the bed is made, but what do you do with them when it’s time to climb in? It can be annoying to have to remove them all, and they often just end up cluttering the floor.
“Less is more when it comes to pillows,” Lake advises. “Stick with two or three Euro shams, two standard pillows and one lumbar/accent pillow. When it's time for bed, then you are only removing two or three pillows, which I suggest placing under your bed at night. Out of sight and out of mind!”
Picking the right pillow for your sleep style — side or back position — is also important. Popular memory foam pillows come in a range of styles and price points to cater to any sleeper.
7. Banish any non-sleep-related items
Ideally, the bedroom environment should be reserved for sleeping and sex and nothing else. Certain items should never be in the bedroom because they could affect your ability to sleep restfully.
“Bringing in technology, like a laptop or TV, and other items unrelated to sleep, like laundry, can interfere with optimal sleep,” Dautovich says. “Anything that reminds you of the office or chores, or doesn’t relax you, shouldn’t be present in the bedroom. A television in the bedroom is a cue for feeling mentally aroused which is not conducive to falling and staying asleep and can also distract us from winding down at the end of the day and relaxing into sleep.”
“The glow from an alarm clock can disrupt sleep,” Dautovich adds. “Consider turning the clock around and placing it at least three feet away from you head.” Also, try an alarm clock that emits an amber tone instead of a blue light.
8. Include a decor-friendly pet bed for Fido or Miss Kitty
Having pets sleep in the bed with you can be disruptive for your sleep, according to a 2012 Sealy Sleep Census that showed pet co-sleepers took longer to fall asleep and woke up more often than people who did not sleep with pets in the bed. Instead of sharing with your furry family member, create a separate pet bed in your bedroom.
“Whenever possible, I try to make dog beds match their owner’s bed for consistency,” Lake says. “For an inexpensive but extremely décor friendly option, I buy extra bedding and have a seamstress create a slipcover for the doggy bed. Just be sure to have zippers included so it can be periodically washed.”