Sleeping Better Through Design
When I recentlyread about a new study showing a connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain, it was like I’d just discovered the Caramilk secret. Mind? Blown.
Get this. In the Mayo Clinic’s sleep deprivation trials, researchers found participants who lacked a solid night’s sleep were inclined to overeat by an average of 549 calories the day after.
A week of too little sleep can pack a pound on you. No wonder my codename has become “Agent Chunky Double-Double” since beginning my big move to a new city 12 weeks ago.
Face it. There’s an entire industry is invested in selling you the magic of sleep — from drugs to eye masks, from whale songs to earplugs — and we keep buying their Band-aid solutions without asking if we’re making it more complicated than it needs to be.
What if changing your bedroom could change your sleep, and your life?
Well, good news. It can.
Bedrooms need to be sanctuaries, so where do we start if we’d like to sleep like the dead?
A curtain call
In the bedroom, window treatments are not for decoration only. Don’t buy pretty curtains without taking a good look at their construction.
Well-made curtains are a defense against invasive morning light, a muffler for the bustling noise of the world outside, the first thing to run interference on fresh air when the window’s open, and more. There are a lot of considerations and it’s worth a proper investment.
When installing your window coverings, make sure they extend past the window’s perimeter to eliminate light bleeding in from around the edges — something you’ll appreciate when trying to catch extra Z’s on a Sunday morning.
Bedroom window treatments should be of “blackout” quality. This means having a thick enough fabric, a dark enough cloth, or some kind of backing, that will keep light out so your room is quite dark regardless of city lights or sunny days.
If the “blackout” ability comes from a non-breathable material, it could mean no breeze finds your bed when the summer heat comes. Most window dressings should disclose if they’re suitable for blackout, but the breathability will be for you to decide. Here’s a hint: Blow through it. Can you feel your air on the other side?
Kick the clutter
The less clutter you have around you, the easier it will be to drift off, on a couple levels.
Everything we own has an emotional value attached to it, whether it’s a rock from your first anniversary on a moonlit Cabo beach or a stuffed teddy from childhood. The more we cram into our bedrooms, the more we’re allowing subconscious moments to replay, and it’s distracting when we head to bed. Less is more when it comes to our sleep zone.
Clutter is also unhealthy, period.
If you or your partner snores in a cluttered bedroom, it could be a dust allergy acting up. It doesn’t take a lot for dust to hide, and the more knick-knacks around you, the less you can control it.
Clear the clutter, control dust with regular cleaning, and breathe easier through the night: A true recipe for great sleep.
Use color and texture
If your bedroom’s well-lit via natural or city lights, and you’re doing the best you can with blinds but are often up at the crack of dawn, you can offset that light by toning things down with paint.
Whether soft, muted shades of greys and blues, or even darker hues like hunter’s green or earthy browns, paint can dial down the “morning has broken” effect in your space and help clear your mind.
Be careful when choosing, because some colors will have the opposite effect you’re after in a bedroom, like bright reds, which seem romantic but might charge you up in all the wrong ways when you’re wanting to decompress.
This ceilings-must-be-white arbitrary rule also makes no sense when you’re making a Sleep Cave. If you want to tone things down, go ahead and paint your ceiling a shade that complements your walls. I guarantee you’ll appreciate it when it comes to sleeping late.
Texture is obviously important when it comes to great sheets, pillows, and throws. It’s not rocket science either. If the textiles are so soft and nice to touch that you want to take a nap, then you’re on the right path. Make sure it won’t pill with laundering, and the Zs will soon be yours.
If you have a lot of city noise or bad neighbors, you can hang ornamental rugs on the wall to act as a buffer and mute your room a little, and also make it cozier. If, however, you have dust allergies, it could be this cure would be worse than the noise.
A bedroom should be for recharging, forgetting about the world, and getting ready to face the next day. A lot of people make the mistake of peppering their bedrooms with photos of all the wrong things: People from their lives.
Life comes with a lot of stress and distractions, and while we love our families and friends, most of them are involved in our stress and distractions in some way, and putting their pictures into our bedrooms can bring a surprising element of subconscious distraction into what should be a Den of Zen.
Instead of photos of loved ones into your bedroom, use it as a place to remember yourself, and display only photos of places you love, things you dream of, or snapshots of you that help you remember who you really are and where you’ve come from.
Have your bedroom be a celebration of you and your passions so you’re at your best when you face your days, and save your family photos for the rest of your home.
Sleep: Results Are All the Reward You Need
“Sleep deprivation is a national epidemic. And it’s killing us,” says this national news headline.
Sleep helps both our cognitive and physical functions, it improves our moods, sustains health, and apparently now might be part of the answer to the weight crisis in America.
If sleep isn’t a priority for you, then it should be.
If a weekend of redecorating your bedroom could improve every area of your life because you’re recharging better with a great sleep on a daily basis, then what are you waiting for?