Want to Sleep Better? Repaint Your Bedroom
When we think about the things that affect the quality of our sleep, it stands to reason that we focus on the most obvious ones, like the mattress and bedding we choose. After all, we've all experienced sleepless nights because of beds that were too hard or pillows that were too lumpy.
But there's another, less obvious aspect of your bedroom setup that you may be overlooking in the quest for a great night's sleep: the color of the walls. "Bedroom colors can be a major contributor—or detractor—when it comes to getting a good night's sleep," explains Terry Cralle, registered nurse, clinical sleep educator, and sleep consultant for the company.
Some colors can get us fired up and anxious, while others can make us feel relaxed and peaceful—and if the former are currently playing a starring role in your bedroom decor, they may be one of the causes of your endless tossing and turning.
Fortunately, one of the easiest ways to sleep better is to incorporate colors in your bedroom that are known for their calm-inducing properties. Here's how.
Cool tones may help you sleep better
Studies suggest that if you want to turn your bedroom into a relaxing oasis, painting it blue is the best place to start. This versatile cool tone is associated with soothing images, such as the sky and ocean, which can have a peaceful effect.
"Think of nature when you think of soothing colors," Cralle says. "The color blue is associated with feelings of calmness which, when picked up by your ganglion cells and relayed to your brain, can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, all of which can help you relax, fall, and stay asleep." In a Travelodge survey of 2,000 people, those with blue bedrooms slept an average of 7 hours and 52 minutes a night, the most of any group. More than half of those with blue rooms also said they regularly wake up feeling happy and refreshed.
Other cool tones can have a similar sleep-promoting effect. Take green, which has been known to induce feelings of peace and tranquility, thanks to its connection to the outdoors. Neutrals (think: taupes, beiges, and grays), muted tones, and pastels can also bring a calm vibe to your bedroom, according to the Better Sleep Council.
Meanwhile, vibrant colors can keep you awake
Harsh or vibrant bedroom colors, like bright yellow, red, or purple, tend to turn the space into an energized and stimulating environment, which can interfere with quieting and calming the mind before bed, says Chattanooga-based interior designer Dawn D. Totty.
Going bold with your color scheme may also disrupt your sleep by increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Save energizing colors for the more active areas of your home, such as the living room or dining room. Red, for example, has been shown to stimulate appetite as well as heart rate. In a 2003 Minnesota State University study, subjects who slept in red rooms had higher stress ratings compared with those who slept in green or white rooms.
The right paint finish matters too
Steer clear of glossy paint, which has a harsher reflection, and go with a satin finish for boudoir walls instead, suggests Totty. Reflections will be more muted, "creating a soft and soothing glow in the space," she says. (Here are some additional bedroom lighting tips gleaned from luxury hotels.)
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If you don't want to (or can't) repaint, opt for serene decor
Okay, so maybe you're not going to repaint. But you can still zen things up by opting for accents in soothing colors, such as or a super-cozy pastel throw rug. Just make sure that the colors you choose complement each other—shades that are parallel on the color wheel encourage rest, while contrasting colors have a stimulating effect.Another way to amp up the serenity is to keep the furnishings to a minimum, says Totty. Less furniture means less clutter, a proven stressor in bedrooms.
To create a peaceful sleep environment, think monochromatic
It's not just the color of your bedroom walls that can influence your sleep but the mix of colors in the space overall. “Mixing colors, as well as textures and patterns, can cause the space to feel chaotic and busy, which is exactly what you don't want in a room where your sole mission is to rest," says Totty. The fix? Use mostly the same color throughout—walls, windows, bedding, decor—to keep your bedroom simple and seamless, and in turn, establish a clean and calming environment. If monochrome seems too boring, "accenting with a few fun pops of color—throw pillows, a few accessories—will bring a nice balance to the space," says Totty. The trick is to ground your bedroom using soothing cool tones and neutrals, so that the pops of color add personality without disrupting the calming energy of the room.
The best way to sleep better? Choose colors you like
The science of color may be helpful in learning how different hues influence you physically and emotionally, but it's only a guide. The way you react to specific colors may be learned from past experiences, research suggests. So if you find that cool tones make you jittery and dark colors feel cozy, for example, go with the flow and use the colors that you're most drawn to. Striking a balance that's right for you may be just the ticket to a better night's sleep.
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