This is a contributed post by Stacey L. Nash
Bedroom design is about more than color and texture, although they’re both important. To create a bedroom that’s truly supportive of healthy sleep, you have to take into account the body’s unique needs come bedtime. With that in mind, we’ve put together our best sleep-supportive design tips along with the science behind them.
Keep It Dark at Night
The human body controls the sleep-wake cycle using 24-hour biological phases called circadian rhythms. These rhythms rely on sunlight to correctly time the release of sleep hormones.
Special photoreceptors in the eye, called ganglion cells, absorb the blue spectrum light that filters through the earth’s atmosphere and sends direct signals to the circadian region of the brain. The blue spectrum light suppresses sleep hormones during the morning and afternoon. As light levels fade in the evening, the body slowly releases sleep hormones until at night, they’re out in full force.
To get a good night’s sleep, you need a bedroom that’s completely dark so that sleep hormones flow through your body unrestrained. Window coverings, whether they be blackout curtains or blinds, need to block out as much light as possible, including moonlight and light pollution from artificial sources.
Sleep-Conscious Lighting Design
Your lighting design might need to be a little different than in the other rooms of your home. For example, high-efficiency light bulbs give off a blue light that’s similar to sunlight in that it suppresses sleep hormones. Instead, opt for incandescent bulbs, which emit a red spectrum light. Track, recessed, and reading lights should be directed away from the bed to decrease overexposure.
Inviting Nature Indoors
Natural design elements have been moving into the bedroom for the last couple of years. We’ve come to understand that nature has a powerful psychological impact on our minds and bodies. One study found that a short 32-second view of a nature scene was enough to restore focused attention. While another recorded reduced activity in the area of the brain responsible for depressive thoughts after a walk in nature.
The calming, relaxing benefits of nature come into your bedroom when you incorporate natural design elements. Houseplants are one of the easiest and most effective ways to create your own indoor forest. Plants bring all of the scents, colors, shapes, and textures you’re looking for in one design piece.
They can also help clean the air, which has been shown to improve sleep quality. NASA even conducted a study that found several indoor plants can also absorb biotoxins from the air. The list included favorites like the aloe vera plant and Gerbera daisy along with a few lesser-known species like mother-in-law’s tongue and the spider plant. Plants come in an almost unlimited array of shapes and sizes so you’re sure to be able to find something that fits with your design.
Choose Comfort Over Trends
You may be able to follow the latest design trends everywhere else in your house, but in the bedroom, choose comfort over the latest fashion. Pastels, neutrals, and muted tones help relax the mind and body. Bedding and pillows made of natural fibers and fabrics offer the best breathability over synthetics. Try to keep rough textures and overly bright colors out of the bedroom as they can overstimulate you before bed.
Sleep-supportive design can help you create the home retreat you’ve always wanted. Whether your tastes are modern or classic, you can use science-backed design to choose pieces that fit with your personality and help you get a good night’s rest.
Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.
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