Sweet Dreams

Sleep - credit Neil Rashba

by Stella Katsipoutis // photo by Neil Rashba

Counting sheep seems to be losing its effectiveness in today’s high-tech, high-speed world, so getting a good night’s rest is becoming more difficult. A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that more than one-third of adults in the U.S. aren’t getting nearly enough shut-eye on a regular basis.

The consequence? Let’s just say it could be a lot more serious than feeling groggy the next morning. “Lack of adequate sleep is linked to increased risk for heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and stroke,” says Dr. Vichaya Arunthari, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center in Jacksonville. “Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental health and quality of life. It also promotes a healthy immune system.”

Turns out, the look and feel of your bedroom is a determining factor in how well you snooze. “Since we spend so much time in our bedrooms, attention to the layout and furnishings will pay off in a restful night’s sleep if chosen wisely,” says Katrina Hosea, president and founder of BeeTree Homes Inc. “Color, tactile response and light all have a tremendous effect on our ability to relax and fall into a deep sleep.”

A few simple tweaks to your bedroom’s atmosphere could actually help you get the rest you need. The key is to eliminate any environmental factors that may be robbing you of peace at night and replacing them with soothing elements that promote healthy sleeping habits. Here are five décor tips that’ll turn your bedroom into a comfortable, relaxing haven for better sleep.

Surround yourself with peaceful hues
“It’s scientifically proven that warm colors increase your blood pressure and appetite, and softer, cooler colors promote relaxation and reduced heart rate, creating a calmer environment,” says Amanda Webster, design principal of Amanda Webster Design. “If you are someone who just has to have color, then I tend to push toward very dark walls in deep tones, such as blues, purples and greens,” says Marsha Faulkner, design principal of Studio M Interior Design Inc. “This can also promote rest.”

Keep the lights low
From the street lamps shining through your window, to the brightly illuminated numbers on your alarm clock, to the blinding glare of your TV or smart phone screens, artificial light tends to creep into your bedroom in more ways than you may realize. “Exposure to light can affect things like your brain wave pattern, cell regulation and hormone production, particularly the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, thus making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep,” says Arunthari.

Keep your bedroom dark at night by turning off or hiding sources of bright light. (Better yet, keep TVs and gadgets out of your bedroom altogether.) Splurge on a set of luxurious blackout curtains or shades: They’ll look great and buy you back some precious snooze time. Hosea recommends using only light bulbs that are labeled “warm white,” which give off a soft glow. She also suggests having no more than three fixtures in your bedroom: a dimmable chandelier above the bed for romance, sconces behind the bed for reading and table lamps on nightstands for general tasks.

Invest in a high-quality mattress
You spend roughly one-third of your life sleeping. Your tired body deserves a sanctuary where it can unwind at the day’s end. So if you skimp on replacing your bed when necessary, you’re actually skimping on your own health. “If you have not invested in a new mattress in more than eight to 10 years, it is time,” says Faulkner. “Although it may not feel like it, your mattress is worn out.”

Dress up your bed with cozy fabrics
When you’re choosing textiles, don’t just spring for whatever looks best; go for what makes you “ooh” and “aah” in comfort. “Egyptian cotton bed linens will have you sleeping like a baby. Other good choices are pima and supima cotton. These have long, high-quality fibers, which make for a much softer sheet,” says Hosea. “Don’t be swayed by the thread count. Linens with a high-quality fiber but a lower thread count will last far longer than ones with a higher thread count and short, inferior fibers.”

Keep clutter to a minimum
Keep work-related furniture—like computer desks—in a separate room, stow away all of your clothing and belongings in the closet and don’t go overboard with décor. Simplicity will help keep your mind at ease and get you to sleep more quickly. “A bed, bureau, chair or bench, and bedside tables are all you really need,” says Hosea. “Too much furniture will make your room feel cramped and suffocating.”