It’s easy to ignore your bedroom when it comes to decorating. But how you design the space—including the paint colors and curtains that you choose, and even what you put on your walls—can affect how well you sleep.
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“Not only do you spend a third of your life in your bedroom by sleeping seven to nine hours a night, but it’s also important because it’s where you begin and end each day,” says Charlotte, North Carolina-based interior designer Deanna Radaj, who specializes in bedroom design and teaches a workshop that’s specifically about creating the bedroom of your dreams. She uses a philosophy called “eco-shui,” which incorporates Western ideals (such as sustainable design) along with Eastern ideals (Feng Shui) to create healthy and balanced living environments. Read on for Radaj’s tips on creating your own bedroom bliss.
“Warm colors actually affect you physically by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature,” says Radaj. “I use warm colors in busy spaces, such as the family room, to promote activity, and cool colors for restful spots, like the bedroom.” Grays, blues, and even browns can be great choices, and you can always ask someone at a paint store to help you pick out the right tone. Love yellow or red? Keep it as an accent color, on a pillow, for instance, or in a piece of art.
Conventional paints off-gas (meaning you breathe in chemicals while you sleep) for up to 18 months, says Radaj. Luckily all major paint manufacturers now offer healthier options for a few extra dollars, and the only trade-off is a slightly longer drying time, according to Radaj.
“I cringe whenever I see commercials for synthetic air fresheners,” says Radaj. “Anybody with perfume allergies or sensitivities is going to be triggered immediately.” Instead, she recommends putting a few drops of lavender or Neroli (bitter orange) oil into a diffuser for a naturally calming, sleep-inducing scent.
Positioning your bed in a corner adjacent to the doorway is a no-no for feng shui, says Radaj. “It’s a little morbid, but bodies are carried out of the room feet first,” she explains. Instead, opt for the “power position,” which is in a corner diagonal from the door (as far away from the door as possible)—the headboard can be either catty corner or against one of the walls. “You’re still in a position of security, but you can see anybody entering the room,” says Radaj.
According to the rules of feng shui, mirrors are activators which bring light and activity into a space. That makes them great for hallways or dead corners—not so great for the place you sleep. “I suggest clients put mirrors on the inside of a closet door so they can close it,” says Radaj.
Even the glow from an alarm clock can be enough to disrupt sleep, especially for light sleepers. And the last thing that you need when you’re tossing and turning is to see the minutes tick by, so turn the clock around or dim it. While you’re at it, Radaj recommends positioning your alarm clock (and any other electronics in your bedroom) at least three feet away from your head while you sleep to avoid EMF, or electromagnetic frequencies, that can act as a stimulant to your nervous system.
Natural fiber cotton sheets without extra anti-wrinkle coatings are best when it comes to promoting air flow and breathability so you don’t wake up drenched in sweat during the night. Need to lighten up for summer but don’t want to change your bedroom’s whole look? Take the comforter out of your duvet and store it away until the weather cools.