Most of the rooms in your home are full of hustle-and-bustle —the living room is ready for a party, the kitchen is full of people, warmth and activity, and the bathroom feels like Grand Central Station on weekday mornings.
But there’s one space in your home that should be a calm, quiet haven. Your bedroom is your sanctuary in a busy, noisy, overstimulating world. Bring the peaceful feeling in and keep the rest of your house out by following this checklist to create a relaxing bedroom that supports sleep.
Your bedding basics
This is one area of the bedroom where you don’t want to scrimp. Investing in good quality bedding from the floor up will improve your space and transform your sleep. You may not have the need or budget to change everything about your bed, but there are a number of quick fixes that will make a big difference.
Your mattress makes the difference between blissful slumber and eight hours of staring at the ceiling, so choose the best you can afford. To keep it fresh and supportive, don’t forget to turn and air it regularly. If replacing your mattress is unnecessary or beyond your budget, you can add extra comfort with a mattress topper or wool underlay.
Sleep comes more naturally when your body temperature drops slightly. If your sheets contain manmade fibres – like polyester or microfibre – they can make you overheat. In general, choose breathable natural fabrics like organic cotton, flax linen and bamboo. Good quality sheets are a pleasure to use, they’ll last for years if properly cared for, and will get softer with age.
Lumpy, dusty old pillows can be a breeding ground for allergenic (not to mention just plain nasty) dust mites. A pillow that’s too thick, thin, or soft is less likely to support your head and neck correctly. And while other natural fibres make better sheets than silk, a silk pillowcase is a very practical luxury – its smooth fibres are naturally gentle on your skin and hair.
Colour it calm
Paint is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to make your bedroom feel more relaxing. Think soft, neutral tones like dusky pinks, buttery creams, light, earthy greens or even cool blues. patterned sheets and ornate touches on the headboard add plenty of interest without shouting out for attention. Avoid bright tones and primary colours. Try dark accents of navy, hunter green or gunmetal grey to create some romantic drama. A neutral colour palette needn’t be boring – add interest and texture through artwork, rugs and bedding.
Did you know… The ideal room temperature for sleeping is 18.5°C. This may mean opening a window at night in the summer, and opening the curtains during the day to let in the sun in winter.
Green your space
Invest in a couple of house plants to help oxygenate and humidify the air. Living plants not only create visual interest and texture, they create a sense of wellbeing through ‘biophilia’, our innate sense of connection with nature. Choose one large plant for the floor, or several smaller plants grouped on your bookshelves, windowsills or dresser. These eight plants are easy to grow and widely available in garden centres and specialist indoor plan shops.
- Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum
- Heart Leaf Vine – Philodendron Hederaceum
- Mother in Law's Tongue/Snake Plant – Sansevieria trifasciata
- Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum
- Swiss Cheese Plant – Monstera Deliciosa
- Rubber Tree – Ficus Elastica
- Radiator Plants – Peperomia
- Cactus – Cactaceae
Light the way
If you didn’t have anaesthetic, would you want to sleep in an operating room? It makes sense to leave brighter lights to task-oriented areas like your make up mirror or wardrobe. If you like to read in bed, you’ll need a lamp or wall-mounted light that creates enough light to prevent eye strain. If selecting LED bulbs, go for ‘warm light’ or ‘soft light’ options, as these give more of a yellow than blue light. Other than that, the softer the lighting in your bedroom the better. Lamps or switches with dimmers enable you to adjust the brightness to your needs.
Banish the blues
By this, we mean blue light – that enemy of restful sleep. Strictly speaking, we should be switching off our devices at least 30 minutes before getting ready for bed.
Let’s face it, most of us get tempted to bring our laptop to bed for that Netflix box set or flick through social media on our phone. But these electronic devices emit blue light, which tricks our brains into thinking it’s morning. Try to set the habit of leaving devices outside the bedroom. Or if you really must, switch your device to ‘night mode’ in the settings. The exception is an e-reader that isn’t backlit – as reading can actually help us nod off after a stressful day.
Sleep and snuggles only
Eating, working or watching TV in bed send the wrong signals to your brain. It’s important to start associating your bedroom solely with sleeping and intimacy and keep other activities in other rooms. As much as possible, try to keep your sanctuary clutter-free, as mess is a reminder of all the chores you need to do. Hardly restful! If you are working from home and have to do this in your bedroom, at least keep it away from the bed, and preferably hide your workspace. Establishing clear boundaries between ‘awake’ and ‘asleep’ zones, will help set the scene for a restorative night’s sleep.