Best Environments for Sleep

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There are plenty of sayings about the comfort of sleeping in your own bed. But besides that special cozy feeling of being home, is it possible to make your bedroom even better for sleep?

If you’re looking to create the ideal bedroom for sleep, this guide will help you design your perfect sleep environment, from the bed itself to lighting and decor.

The best bed for sleep

A good night’s sleep starts with the right bed. There is no “best” bed for sleep – only the best bed for you.

Mattresses and pillows

Choose mattresses and pillows ideal for your body weight and sleeping style (back, side, or stomach). The more you keep your spine properly aligned, the more restorative your sleep will be.spine alignment during sleep

  • Back sleepers should look for medium firm memory foam or latex mattresses. Pillows should be soft enough to prevent the neck from arching forward while allowing the spine to lie flat.
  • Side sleepers should look for soft to medium firm memory foam mattresses. Choose pillows with heights that match the difference between your neck and your shoulder to keep your spine straight while asleep.
  • Stomach sleepers of average weight should look for medium firm memory foam or hybrid mattresses. Thin pillows are best for keeping your back and neck as flat as possible and preventing you from arching upwards while asleep.

Ensure you choose an appropriate size mattress to comfortably fit you and any people, pets, or stuffed animals you sleep with. If you want to follow feng shui, avoid king-size beds – they are large enough to divide you and your partner and cause a chasm in your relationship. Feng shui also recommends sturdy wooden headboards to promote strength for your head.

Keep your bed in top shape by following these care and maintenance tips:

  • Wash your bedding at least weekly and clean your mattress and pillows every few months.
  • Invest in a hypoallergenic mattress cover that fits your bed snugly to protect against stains, bacteria, and dust mites.
  • Replace your bedding when it gets old. Mattresses should be replaced if you’re waking up with aches or pains, or you can see stains, sagging, or other visible signs of wear. This usually happens after about 7 years or so, depending on the quality of the mattress. Replace your pillows every 2 years.

Bed position

According to feng shui, the ideal bed position is as far away from the door as possible, but with the ability to see it. In feng shui, this position helps promote the free flow of chi energy throughout the room. On a more practical level, this position also helps minimize light and noise.

A more macabre reason feng shui advises against positioning the bed toward the door is to protect against the so-called “death position.” The death position describes sleeping with your feet pointed toward the door, similar to the way dead people are carried out of the door feet first. In feng shui, sleeping in this position is believed to drain your life force.

There should also be sufficient room around the bed to exit comfortably on either side. This ensures no energy gets trapped and can continue flowing freely throughout the room.

Feng shui in the bedroom

Feng shui is an ancient Chinese architectural philosophy that relies on spatial arrangement of objects and rooms to promote the best flow of energy throughout a building. While feng shui has not been scientifically proven, it remains popular nonetheless and is a common designing principle many people follow in their homes.

Removing clutter from the bedroom

Feng shui is all about promoting a free flow of energy. So it makes sense that it would strongly advise against clutter.

Declutter your bedroom to foster a sense of zen and calm. This isn’t just a principle of feng shui. Academic studies have examined the negative effects of clutter on the psyche.

feng shui bedroom layout

Source: Dreams

In feng shui, clutter thwarts your progress and represents loose ends and unfinished business. The more clutter you have, the less freely energy can flow throughout the room. This also applies to unseen clutter, such as that hidden in closets or under the bed.

If you can’t get rid of clutter, or have other stressful things in the room like an office desk, hang curtains or use screens to block the energy so you don’t see them while you sleep. Similarly, the room should be cleared of stimulating electronics (more on that below).

Symmetry in design

Symmetry is a defining principle of feng shui due to its association with balance. In the bedroom, symmetry takes on additional significance in relation to representing romance and duality. Feng shui views the bedroom as a place for the couple, so even if you’re single, it recommends designing your furniture as if it you’re not. For example, feng shui recommends having two nightstands and two lamps on both sides of the bed.  

The far right corner of the bedroom represents the “love center” in feng shui. Take advantage of this by keeping something romantic in that area, such as a photo of you and your partner. It’s okay to have a plant there, too, as long as you take special care not to let it die!

Other feng shui concepts for the bedroom

Besides decluttering and emphasizing symmetry, feng shui offers a few more guidelines for the bedroom:

  • Feng shui recommends curved ends to furniture because sharp ends can direct negative, sharp energy toward you while your sleep.
  • Candles help clear energy and provide a warm, intimate atmosphere.
  • When you sleep, close all doors to the bedroom. This prevents energy from escaping, so it instead moves throughout the room strengthening and healing.
  • Do not hang mirrors in the bedroom. They are believed to magnify anxieties and bounce the energy around in a restless way.
  • Artwork should make you feel good and represent images of your ideal life or happy romance and relationships.
  • Plants in corner placements help keep the energy moving throughout the room instead of getting stuck.

Best colors for the bedroom

Color has the ability to persuade your emotions and mindset. That’s why brands take special care when designing the colors in their logos and product packaging. Color psychology as it relates to the bedroom should focus on choosing colors that relax and calm you.

Travelodge-Bedroom-Colour-Infographic

Source: Travelodge

Follow these rules of thumb when it comes to deciding on color for your bedroom walls, bedding and decor:

  • Light pastels are calming, as are neutral, earth- or skin-based tones. Feng shui says these colors promote yin energy.
  • Darker colors will make the room feel smaller, and perhaps cozier (unless you’re claustrophobic).
  • When decorating and choosing accent pieces, take care to choose colors parallel to each other on the color wheel rather than ones that contrast. The contrast in color is stimulating to the eyes and thus not calming.
  • Feng shui advises against bright reds and oranges in particular, which are too stimulating and bring bright “yang” energy into the room.

The color blue

The best color for the bedroom may be blue. It promotes calmness, and has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate.

Anecdotal research backs this up. In 2013, Travelodge surveyed over 2,000 British households who reported the amount of sleep they got by the color of their bedroom walls. Individuals with blue bedrooms got the most sleep.

Color of bedroom wallAmount of sleep
Blue
Yellow
Green
Grey
Brown
Purple
7 hours 52 minutes
7 hours 40 minutes
7 hours 36 minutes
6 hours 12 minutes
6 hours 5 minutes
5 hours 56 minutes

People often associate dark colors with calmness, so seeing purple at the bottom of the list may come as a surprise. While purple is indeed a deep color, it’s also associated with creativity which awakens the mind. Some even believe purple bedroom walls could cause more vivid dreams.

Best scents for the bedroom

Even if you don’t believe in the benefits of aromatherapy, candles soften the lighting in a room and their pleasing scents simply make you feel good. They help us relax which makes it easier to fall asleep. If you choose to use candles in the bedroom, be sure to blow them out before you fall asleep.

Studies have found lavender oil to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature (all good for falling asleep). Conversely, lemon and peppermint are rousing, activating scents.

Also ensure you like the scent (or lack thereof) of your laundry detergent so your sheets and bedding don’t irritate your nose or cause undue sneezing while you sleep.

Best temperature for sleep

The ideal temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures are conducive to sleep. This may be one reason why it seems easier to fall asleep in the rain – the drop in temperature upon the start of the rain makes it easier.  

Blackout curtains obviously block out light, but they’re also quite effective at keeping the temperature cool, since they prevent the sun’s heat from prematurely warming up your body and waking you up in the morning.

Depending on the bedroom temperature, you can sleep naked or wear socks to stay cooler or warmer, respectively.

You can also regulate the bedroom temperature in other ways. Ceiling and floor fans can be a more affordable option than using the A/C to cool the entire house down, especially for those in warmer climes. Plus, they provide a steady, soothing form of white noise.

Tips for hot sleepers

Staying cool while you sleep is more challenging for some. Some people tend to run hot because they’re overweight, ill, or just because. In these instances, special mattresses, bedding and pillows can be better than others.

For hot sleepers, less bedding and clothing is recommended. Hot sleepers should look for breathable fibers in their bedding and pajamas such as cotton or linen (as opposed to synthetic material like polyester which can trap heat). Women with hot flashes may find it helpful to keep an extra set of pajamas by the bed for a quick change if they wake up during the night, or a bowl of ice water to dip a washcloth in. While some sleep products tout cooling gel in their features, these often have no real impact on bed temperature.

However, some mattress types do trap heat more than others, such as memory foam and mixed foam mattresses. Instead, opt for mattresses that offer superior temperature regulation, such as innerspring mattresses. Although these mattresses won’t conform to your body as well as a memory foam mattress, they’ll keep you much cooler. Latex and hybrid mattress can offer a good middle ground for individuals who want some contour ability while maintaining a reasonably cool temperature.

Best lighting for sleep

Light controls your body’s circadian clock and sleep-wake cycle. We are made to sleep at night. That’s why you turn out the light when you go to bed. Most people can sleep in low light, but all things being equal, darker is better.

Blackout curtains can be a huge help in this regard, as well as eye masks. These block out any additional ambient light, such as from the hallway, the streetlamps outside, and even the moon and the stars. They also keep the sun rays out so you don’t wake up earlier than you’d like in the morning. Plus, when you do wake up, pushing back the curtains and being confronted with the strong sunlight will help shock your body into waking up for the day.

Lampshades can help soften the light in the bedroom and make it feel more relaxing. Consider installing dimmer switches so you can gradually decrease the brightness in your bedroom, similar to the sunsetting.

If possible, low-wattage lights should be used in the bedroom, and stimulating electronics should be kept out.

Electronics and blue light

Why are electronics so disruptive to sleep? Electronics like televisions, smart phones, and digital alarm clocks, all have a higher concentration of blue light. Blue light is the strongest wavelength, and thus the most disruptive to our melatonin production.

Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep. Your brain begins producing melatonin in the evening as the sun goes down. Leaving the lights on and using electronic devices tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime, so it delays melatonin production and keeps you awake longer. This is why electronics should be kept out of the room.

If you must keep certain electronics in the bedroom, there are ways to minimize the strength of the light and its impact on your ability to fall asleep.

  • If you’re afraid of the dark or wake often during  the night and need to be able to see where you’re going, look for a nightlight that uses red light instead of blue. Turning on the room light will disrupt your circadian clock and make it tougher for you to fall asleep. Let a nightlight lead your way instead.

  • If you like to read at night, opt for paper books instead of an e-reader. Reading lamps with telescoping necks shine the light directly on your book instead of into the room or your eyes. If you prefer an e-reader, turn on the red-light filter when using the device at night.
  • Cover up the clock face of your alarm clock – it will still ring to wake you, but the light from the clock won’t interrupt your melatonin production.

Best noise for sleep

Modern houses are not built to make bedrooms particularly quiet. Occasionally, in larger houses, the architect segregates the bedrooms from the living area.  But it is rare that the materials used to construct those rooms are different or intended to muffle sound. Further, depending on the business of the street and the position of the bedroom, the neighborhood noise could matter. Snoring sleep partners can also pose a problem.

The quieter your bedroom environment, the better quality your sleep will be. Even if you’re tired enough to fall asleep in a noisy room, it’s unlikely your sleep will be restful. Noise alerts the mind and keeps you in the early stages of light sleep. For sleep to feel truly restorative, we need to be able to sleep throughout the night and experience the appropriate amounts of deep sleep.

There are many products that help block out noise to help you fall asleep, such as earplugs. Many people find white noise helps them fall asleep.

White noise

Unlike regular noise that changes randomly, the constant ambient sound from white noise is great for sleep. White noise products are widely available, perhaps in some forms you’ll find surprising. For instance, fans, humidifiers, and ventilation systems can all serve as white noise.

White noise machines are small speakers that fit on your bedside table and emit a steady sound of white noise. White noise smartphone apps have become increasingly popular in recent years because they offer extensive sound libraries that are regularly updated. Not only will you enjoy varieties of white noise, but they also often include ambient sounds, classical music, and natural sounds like babbling brooks or crickets.

White noise apps

Have you ever wondered why it seems easier to sleep on rainy days? The sound of the rain itself is a white noise. The changes in temperature and light level are circadian cues to sleep.  Rain also cleans the air, leaving a fresher smell, and some people find that makes it easier to sleep. Recreate the calming noise of rain in your bedroom with a small fountain or a nature sound library.

Cleaning your bedroom

Once you’ve designed the ideal sleep environment, you’ll have to do some work to keep it that way. Keeping your bedroom clean and tidy is beneficial for your physical and mental health.

As discussed above, decluttering helps relieve anxiety. You’ll have fewer reminders of the pressures of the daytime world. Plus, a cleaner environment relaxes your mind and makes it easier for you to breathe at night. Vacuum regularly, and invest in an air purifier with a HEPA filter to really clean the room. There will be fewer dust mites, pet dander, parasites, and other allergens to interfere with your breathing and keep you up at night.

Plants can also help clean indoor air and bring a sense of life and calm energy to the room. NASA’s Clean Air study revealed the 15 plants that do the best job and cleaning indoor air and removing toxic chemicals.

best plants for sleep

Now you have what you need to create the perfect environment for sleep. Enjoy with a good night’s rest.

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