I admit, I’m not the best sleeper. Within literally 2 minutes of Wayne’s head hitting the pillow, I can hear rhythmic breathing that tells me he’s already in dreamland while I lay wistfully awake at his side increasingly feeling more and more bitter that he has this ability to conk out without any issue and I don’t. For me, the room has to be the perfect temperature, perfectly dark, perfectly quiet, the bedding has to be tucked around my head and neck, my pillow needs to be perfectly fluffed but not too fluffy and even then, my brain becomes that of a mathematician, calculating exactly how many hours and minutes I have before my alarm will go off.
Added to that, I have a rare sleep disorder called Night Terrors (sounds fun, doesn’t it?) where I half-wake in the night, sometimes screaming, always in a panic, heart beating out of my chest, terrified and confused. (You think that sounds bad, try being Wayne.) I’ve had it since I was a teenager and have learned to live with it – as have those I’ve lived with over the years – many times not even remembering that it happened until Wayne tells me about my waking him up the following day, wide-eyed and yelling, sometimes trying to jump out of bed, sometimes fighting him off as he tries to calm me down*. I always thought it was related to stress but to be honest, even when everything is absolutely calm, it still happens with no real consistency – it may be 3 times in one week or it might not occur for a few months at a time.
*He does know that you aren’t really supposed to wake up, touch or console a ‘sleep walker’ but bear in mind, he’s been woken from a peaceful slumber with his bedmate screaming and thrashing around in terror and he’s not firing on all cylinders in that state either – it’s just his natural reaction.
So all this to say that it is really important to me that my bedroom is absolutely optimised for sleep. Of course there are certain things I do to ensure I get my rest. I don’t drink caffeine aside from one cup of coffee in the morning (herbal tea all the way and chamomile at night) and removing processed sugar from my diet has been a lifesaver for me (I do fall alseep so much faster now). But needing certain things to be a certain way in my bedroom led me to make some practical design choices that really, anyone can benefit from to get a better night’s sleep.
One of the most obvious things we did was paint the bedroom in a dark colour. The current colour is Dulux Night Jewels 1 – a nearly-black slate grey that creates a cave-like space in the evenings, perfect for winding down. I know a lot of people love a light and bright bedroom but for me, the darker colours suit a bedroom so much more, especially when you really want that cocoon effect in the evenings.
The total bonus of this is that colours and textures look amazing against a dark colour so not only is it conducive to a better night’s rest, it also looks pretty fantastic. Once the lights are off, the whole room is encased in darkness with little reflection from any wayward light source and you feel totally enveloped – I imagine this harks back to our cave-dwelling ancestors, you can imagine they slept well in total darkness without fear of the exposure they would have had in the open.
Another thing we did was install black out blinds. We live in town and that means we have street lamps as well as light pollution from nearby shops. Ours are a simple white colour and when rolled up, disappear against the white window frames but at bedtime, they block out pretty much all the light coming into the room and help me get to sleep faster.
I’m also a stickler for keeping a tidy bedroom. I don’t want to see clutter or a mess or a reminder of the following day’s chores before settling down for the evening, there’s nothing that will set my brain off faster. So ensuring clothing is put away or into the laundry basket, keeping our bedside tables free of any paperwork or rubbish and styling them properly means the last thing I see at night is something that makes me feel happy.
You may not think this has anything to do with getting a proper night’s sleep but consider the last thing your brain processes before it’s lights out – if you have a stack of laundry that needs folding or bills that need paying, those are going to play on your mind. Keep things tidy and organised and your body will thank you for it.
As for bedding, I realised with horror I was a ‘proper adult’ when I purchased my first set of really good quality sheets. You know I’m a stickler for saving money but this is one place where you really should consider splurging. I normally go for as high a thread-count as I can afford.
Tightly woven bedding (which is what thread-count refers to – the higher the number, the tighter the weave) gets softer and more comfortable with washing and use. There’s also a certain weight to it that just can’t be matched by cheaper fabrics which allow the bedding to breathe whilst still providing warmth. I know friends that swear by linen as well – it’s both beautifully casual and looks gorgeous. If you find you are often chilly at night during the colder months, you might also want to consider soft flannel sheets for super cosy luxury. Whatever sits right next to your skin, get the best you can afford – of course it looks great but more importantly, it’s an investment that you’ll never regret, I promise you that.
Finally, consider your lighting. There’s really nothing worse than a huge overhead light blazing away just before you wind down. First of all, put that thing on a dimmer to ‘quiet’ the room or just turn it off altogether and instead, use small table lamps to create little pools of light around a space. I’m also a fan of wall hung arm lamps, I think they look so chic. The important thing with lighting in a bedroom is that overall it’s dim allowing your eyes to adjust and your internal clock to wind down. Of course, if you like to do a little reading at night, it’s important that your lighting is suited for that (ie task lighting which only illuminates the area it needs to, not the whole room) and you don’t have to get out of bed to switch it off.
One last thought – apparently the whole ‘we should be getting 8 hours a night’ thing is a bit of a myth. A recent extensive study in Current Biology showed that even existing hunter-gatherer tribes (the closest we can get to study our pre-industrialised ancestors) don’t get 8 hours of sleep a night – it’s actually closer 6.4 hours on average, not much more than those in modern societies. So we may be getting stressed out thinking we’re not getting enough sleep and probably needlessly losing sleep over it! Oh the irony. It turns out, sleep is a highly personal thing and some of us can get by on 5 hours while others may need 7 or 8. The important thing is to not stress about it and just chill out – you might find yourself sleeping better knowing it’s quite okay to get less.
The important point to take away is that you can still design your bedroom to be practical for it’s most important function – sleeping – without having to compromise on your design. In fact, the two very much go hand in hand. Working with your own sleep requirements may actually lead to a room that’s entirely unique and speaks as much to your personality as it does to your physicality.
How do you ensure you get a good night’s sleep? Did you make any design decisions in your own bedroom to optimise sleep? Anyone else suffer from bizarre sleep disorders? I’d love to hear if you have!
Disclaimer: This post is in association with Argos and their Good Night Sleep campaign. Read more tips from the experts on getting a good night sleep here. As always, all opinions, words and images are my own. I only work with companies I really like and think you will too! Thanks for supporting the brands that support Swoon Worthy!