There’s nothing quite like crawling into bed after a long day. But is your bedroom as relaxing as it could be? How you light, decorate, and furnish your bedroom can have a big impact on your sleep quality. Even if you aren’t ready for a complete boudoir makeover, a few changes can have a positive effect.
Lighting and Electronics
Light is an important part of the sleep-wake cycle. Natural light gives the body cues to stop releasing melatonin1, a hormone that triggers sleep. However, artificial light can trick the body into delaying sleep2 long past sundown.
- Turn down the lights a few hours before bed. Gradually reducing light exposure starting 3 hours before bed mimics natural sundown patterns, cuing your body to start winding down.1
- Use low-wattage bulbs. If your pre-bedtime activities require light, keep it as low as possible. Try to light your bedroom selectively, using lamps to illuminate only the areas of the room you need.
- Avoid blue spectrum light. Electronics are notorious blue light emitters, which is why sleep experts recommend turning off smart phones, tablets, computers, and televisions at least one hour before bed.3 Many light bulbs also give off blue light. Replace the bulbs in your bedroom with ones that produce mostly warm yellow light.
Believe it or not, but how your bedroom is decorated can have a big impact on your sleep quality4,5,7
- Choose a calming colour. The colour of your bedroom walls and linens can make a big change to your sleep. Reds and yellows are associated with energy. They also stimulate appetite4, so it’s best to avoid them when decorating your bedroom. Instead opt for more calming hues, such as blue or green5.
- Minimise clutter. Laundry baskets on the floor, messy bedside tables, and items stored under the bed may leave you anxious at night.6,7 Give loose items a permanent home inside bedside tables or in a closet. Keep your washing in the laundry room until it can be put away properly. Out of sight really is out of mind when it comes to clutter!
- Reduce light and sound. We’ve already covered how blue light effects sleep. Banishing television and electronics from the bedroom is a big step in the right direction. You may also want to add thick curtains or blinds to bedroom windows to block out morning light as well. A plush rug will help muffle late night noise from bathroom trips or items dropped in the dark.
We spend as much as one-third of our lives in bed. Choosing the right kind of bedding—and caring for it properly—can turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.
- Replace your mattress. Mattresses aren’t meant to be kept forever. Our bodies change over time, so a mattress that was once comfortable may no longer suit your body type. Also, mattresses collect all sorts of nasties, including dust mites, fungus, and germs. These can make allergies worse and negatively impact your sleep. A good rule of thumb is to replace your mattress about every 10 years.
- Pick the right pillow. Your sleep position will likely impact your choice of pillow. Generally, stomach sleepers could try to use soft pillows; back sleepers may opt for a medium-to-firm pillow to properly support the head and neck; and side sleepers might try to stick with firm-to-extra-firm pillows to keep the spine aligned. Just like mattresses, pillows need to be replaced. Lifespans vary depending on the material, so check the packaging before purchase.
- Change your sheets often. Ideally, you should be washing your bed linens weekly (more often if you’ve been sick). Natural hair and skin oils, sweat, and other things brought into bed--pet hair, food crumbs, dirt, etc. -- will create an unsanitary environment over time. Fresh, clean sheets will make you feel better about slipping into bed!
- Wash your sheets carefully. Investing in nice sheets is useless if you don’t care for them properly. The best advice is to follow the washing instructions provided by the manufacturer, which usually warn against washing in hot water. Dry sheets on the clothes line when you can to avoid shrinking.
The sleepvantage Team
"Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine)” The Mayo Clinic. 1 November 2013. 25 September 2015.
Gooley JJ, Chamberlain K, Smith K, Khalsa SBS, Rajaratnam SMW, Van Reen E, Zeitzer JM, Czeisler CA, Lockley SW. “Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. March 2011; 93(3): E463-E472.
Chahal H, Fung C, Kuhle S, Veugelers PJ. “Availability and night-time use of electronic entertainment and communication devices are associated with short sleep duration and obesity among Canadian children.” Pediatr Obes 2013; 8: 42-51.