How to design the perfect bedroom for sleep

Your bedroom setting is vital to getting healthy and consistent sleep. Creating a relaxing space that will help you fall and stay asleep can make a world of difference to our sleep quality. Little changes to lighting, sound, smell, and temperature – plus finishing touches to design and bedding – all play a significant role in creating the perfect sleeping environment.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of top tips that you can use to transform your bedroom into a comfortable, cosy, and relaxing sleeping environment where you can get a proper night’s rest.

How to enhance to the visual elements of your bedroom

Interior design is all about establishing the look and feel of your home. When it comes to your bedroom, you can create an interior design that not only reflects your personal taste, but also encourages peaceful sleep. Below are a few ideas how:

Emphasize colours that make you feel at ease

Floors, walls, furniture, and bedding all contribute to the colour scheme of your bedroom. It’s therefore useful to emphasize colours that make you feel at peace at bedtime. For a lot of people, these tend to be warmer, softer colours, but you can pick whatever works best for you.

If you’re renting or are on a limited budget, it’s still possible to re-work the colour scheme of your bedroom. For example, you could use bedding, rugs, cushions, houseplants, or wall art, to add your desired colour to the space.

Declutter and organise your belongings

Visual clutter can cause us to feel messy, out of control and overwhelmed. This can stir up feelings of stress and anxiety, which are known to be significant barriers to sleep. Decluttering and reorganising your bedroom can help to make it a much cleaner and stress-free space.

This 2016 study of people with mild to severe clutter issues found that their messy living spaces had a significantly negative impact on their home, and satisfaction with their lives overall. Research also shows that people who have more cluttered bedrooms take longer to fall asleep than those with neat and tidy rooms. This pattern forms part of an unhealthy cycle where you then wake up lacking the energy to tidy your room.

For some useful tips, you might like to have a read of our articles How to declutter and reorganise your home and 16 creative upcycling ideas that could save you money and help the planet.

Take steps to make the space practical and easy to navigate

No matter the size of your bedroom, it’s important not to feel cramped. Making the most of underbed storage or vertical space can help make the most of even the smallest of bedrooms. This can free up floor space that you can use for furniture such as a bedside table that can help keep things tidy. Or you might just like to keep the more airy feel that the freed space creates.

When designing and organising your bedroom, a handy tip is to try and make every action you’ll do in that room stress-free. For example, having a clear pathway from your bed to the bathroom can remove tripping hazards, and organising your wardrobe neatly can make it easier to get ready in the mornings. Creating a stress and frustration-free bedroom will help to give your space an aura of calmness and comfort.

Use finishing touches to make your bedroom feel homely

There’s nothing more comforting than having somewhere cosy to unwind and relax, especially after a long day. The most effective way to achieve that sense of ‘home’ is often very personal. Examples might include displaying pictures of loved ones and/or objects that reflect special memories – or hanging meaningful art on the walls. Other decorations like fairy lights and warm blankets are another great way to give your bedroom that cosy feel.

These personal touches don’t have to be expensive or fancy, they just have to mean something to you.

How to make your bedroom a practical place to sleep

The practical setup of your bedroom can also impact how well you sleep. Generally speaking, this means taking steps to limit any potential distractions that could disrupt sleep.

Light

Light is the most powerful signal of melatonin – the hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock). When it’s dark, production of melatonin increases and signals to the body that it’s time to sleep. Meanwhile, light decreases melatonin production, tricking the body into thinking that it’s daytime. Therefore, making your bedroom as dark as possible before sleeping can help to keep your circadian rhythm in check and promote healthy, restorative sleep.

Arguably, the most important thing you can do is to take steps to reduce (or eliminate) the use of electronic devices before bed and in your bedroom. This includes mobiles phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs. Screen time exposes your eyes to blue light, which stimulates your mind (making it think it’s day time, so it needs to be alert), and lowers melatonin levels, and disrupts your circadian rhythm. This makes it much harder to fall asleep and can also disrupt sleep quality. If you need to use an electronic device in your bedroom, then it’s worth investing in some blue light blocking glasses, or installing a blue light filter on your phone.

Other changes include making sure that your bedside table light isn’t too bright. Or, even better, opt for one with a red light. Studies have shown that colours that are close to red on the light spectrum can stimulate melatonin production and induce sleep. If your bedroom often receives a lot of exterior light, blackout curtains can also help.

Sound

External noises can cause disruption to sleep, which can reduce quality of sleep and impact overall health. If outside noise is beyond your control, for example if you live in an urban area, you could consider trying a noise cancelling device or wearing ear plugs.

Alternatively, you could try a sleeping app. These are designed to help you relax, recentre your focus, and fall into a restorative sleep. You can find out which ones are worth a try in our article 10 of the best sleeping apps.

Smell

While different smells don’t tend to wake people up from sleep, some scents can be used to create a calming environment. For example, studies have shown that aromatherapy and essential oils can promote relaxation and help you get a good night’s rest. Lavender especially, has been shown to increase the amount of deep sleep a person gets.

There are a few ways you can use essential oils for sleep. For example, you can dilute and apply it onto your skin (after doing a patch test), or you can add a few drops into a diffuser. Healthline has more information on how to use essential oils for sleep.

Temperature

The importance of having your bedroom at the right temperature shouldn’t be underestimated. In fact, this study found that room temperature is one of the most important factors in achieving quality sleep.

The best temperature to sleep in will vary from person to person. However, around 18C – give or take a few degrees – is generally recommended for optimal sleep. Body temperature naturally decreases as we sleep, so a cool (but not cold) room will help you relax and stay asleep.

If you don’t have a thermostat to accurately measure the temperature in your bedroom, you could use a fan, or open a window, depending on the time of year, to keep it cool.

Choosing the right mattress and bedding

Your bed is the central part of your bedroom, so it’s important to make sure that it’s comfortable. Your mattress should be well-built and comfortable, however, the level of firmness will depend on your preference. The most important thing is that it supports your body weight in a way that relieves pressure on any point of your body. New mattresses can be expensive, but worthwhile if it helps you to get better sleep. Research shows that the right mattress can decrease stress and back pain. Good Housekeeping has some useful tips on buying the right mattress.

It’s also worth thinking about your pillows, sheets, duvets, and throws. Pillows are important in preventing neck pain as they keep your head and spine well-aligned. To help you out, Dreams have a useful pillow buying guide on their site.

Lastly, don’t forget to wash your bedding regularly. This will help keep it feeling fresh and limit the potential buildup of dust mites and other allergens, which could cause irritation and disturb your sleep.

Air quality

Fresh air is important not only for sleep, but your overall health too. Research shows that ventilation and fresh air help to promote better sleep, while problems like mould and dampness are linked to insomnia and excessive tiredness.

Making sure that your bedroom is properly ventilated, and cleaning the area regularly can help reduce dust mites. You’ll find plenty of cleaning ideas in our article 28 tips for a successful spring clean. However, if air quality is still affecting your sleep, then it’s worth seeking advice from your doctor about common allergies that can affect sleep, or investing in some anti-allergy bedding.

Final thoughts…

Creating a cosy and comfortable bedroom space can be a game changer when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Having a good clean and declutter, and making little changes to light, sound, temperature, and bedding, can all come together to make a world of difference.

If making all these changes at once seems a bit overwhelming, then why not take it one step at a time, and enjoy the gradual transformation of your bedroom into the perfect space for sleep?

If you’re feeling inspired and want to make changes to the rest of your home, then you might want to check out our articles 10 affordable ways to improve your living space and Five low cost ways to improve your property.

What things are most important to you when creating a perfect sleeping space? Have you made any changes recently? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation on the Rest Less community forum, or leave a comment below.

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