Here’s How Your Bedroom Impacts Your Sleep Hygiene

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Here’s How Your Bedroom Impacts Your Sleep Hygiene

The past year has affected many aspects of our daily lives in unprecedented ways and unsurprisingly, sleep is one of them. In a recent study carried out by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI, it was found that 50% of the UK population have noticed their sleep has been more disturbed than usual, and 2 in 5 said they were sleeping fewer hours a night on average compared with before the lockdown.

Too many sleepless nights or poor quality sleep can have both long and short-term effects on our mental and physical health - not something we want to contend with in addition to Covid-19. Pandemic aside, it’s common for there to be moments in life when the amount of shuteye you’re getting seems to be diminishing (here’s looking at you, new parents), or when we can’t help but lay awake at night overthinking something. That being said, good health and good sleep hygiene start at home and there are plenty of things you can do to help set yourself up for quality rest.

More than anything, you should aim to create a space that minimises sleep disturbances and promotes restful sleep. Strong sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. A disorganized or cluttered space can add to stress, impede relaxation and distract you when you're trying to drift off.

Reading area in principle bedroom.
Heard board lighting in principle bedrom.

How Lighting In Your Bedroom Can Affect Sleep

Light, both in terms of brightness and colour, impacts both the quality and longevity of your sleep. Most of us are aware that blue light, the type emitted by electronics, is detrimental to sleep, but extremely white lights can also suppress the production of melatonin and keep us hyper-alert well into the evening. Dim yellow lights on the other hand instantly make us feel more relaxed, so switching the lighting scheme in your bedroom to a warm glow with yellow or orange tones is highly beneficial for good sleep hygiene. 

Working with a lighting designer to create a bespoke ambience that is suited to your requirements and is perfectly adapted to the structure, dimensions and characteristics of your space is an excellent way of achieving your desired results to a high, expert-level specification.

Blackout curtains are a no-brainer for bedrooms, particularly if you live on a very well-lit street. Blinds, shades or drapes that are room-darkening will reduce the amount of exterior light your bedroom welcomes and they often have insulative benefits too. These can also be automated to rise at a certain time to welcome in the morning sun.

Aside from sunshine, there are many light-based wellness products on the market. Wake-up lights that simulate a sunrise by gradually getting brighter get your internal clock going in the morning so that you wake up feeling energised, and many have customisable options to suit your age, lifestyle habits or other preferences. Dimmer switches are great for all rooms in the house, especially in the bedroom. Allowing for custom-controlled brightness on overhead lights is particularly impactful. 

Ensuring reading lights and bedside lamps aren’t too glaring and are just the right brightness to prevent eye strain is important too. Choosing the right light bulb wattage based on the desired location and use for each particular lamp will help create the perfect bedroom ambience and consider that lampshades can also diffuse the strength of lighting.

The amount of sunlight we get has a huge role to play in sleep too. More of us have been working from home, children have been homeschooling and overall, we've been leaving the house far, far less. This results in less exposure to daylight, which can disrupt our internal body clocks.

Metal four posted luxury bed in guest bedroom with armchairs at the end.

The Best Temperature For Sleeping

Temperature is another key component to consider when it comes to sleep hygiene. Feeling too hot or sweaty can make it very difficult to fall asleep and once you do, stay asleep. When setting the temperature in your bedroom, you want to make sure you’re comfortable, but the ideal according to experts is slightly cooler than many may think, at around 18-19°C. Having the controls by your bed will make it easy for you to adjust if needed during the night and you can also consider a programmable thermostat. If you and your partner struggle to agree on the same temperature which suits you both, dual climate control systems are a great idea.

Your bedding has a big part to play when considering temperature too. Bed linens that are made from natural, breathable fibres such as Egyptian cotton keep you cool and dry. You may also want to invest in alternating duvets for summer and winter; a lighter summer duvet at 4-7.5 tog is great for warm weather and come winter, you can swap it for a thicker 10-13.5 tog duvet.

Decorative throws and pillows make a bedroom look aesthetically pleasing and feel comforting, but these should be removed when you're going to sleep as they can just make you feel hot and stuffy. That being said, if you sleep beside someone who runs at a totally different temperature to you, keeping that cosy throw at arm's length may come in useful!

Principle bedroom with statement designer headboard.

Soundproofing Your Bedroom For A Silent Night

If you live in a central location that means there's often a lot of noise just outside your home, you'll want to block it out so it doesn't disturb your sleep. This can be done by adjusting your home in ways far more sophisticated than using earplugs, (however, if you sleep with a partner that's a snorer, you may not want to throw those away just yet!). Sound can easily permeate from doors and windows, so checking that they are properly insulated with no gaps should be your first port of call.

Gadgets and electronics often make sounds too, particularly phone notifications. Setting up a designated area well away from the bed where your phone or tablet can be kept, and silencing them, is a smart idea. If you have a television in your bedroom, hiding this in an armoire, sliding cabinet, or behind a piece of art is also beneficial. You can also consider installing a custom pop-up or drop-down television which is built into furniture such as your bed. 

Fabrics such as wool and woven textiles are known to absorb sound, so adding a few cushions made of this in your bedroom, perhaps on a chair or sofa, can serve as sustainable soundproofing tools.

Sometimes, hearing something else can help you drown out an annoying sound. Sometimes, the whirr of a fan can be relaxing. You can set up built-in speakers to play white noise, comforting music or calming nature sounds which blur out background noise and provide some relief. There are also certain wall coatings that are applied as base or finishing paint coats that are designed to absorb mid-range sounds.

Bronze and brass bespoke panels in bedside joinery.
Bedroom walls painted in cuisse de nymphe emue by Edward Bulmer

The Importance Of A Good Quality Bed And Mattress

On average, we spend a third of our lives sleeping, so doing so on a comfortable bed is a no-brainer and if there were ever a justified investment, it's a good mattress. Aesthetically, the bed is the centrepiece of any bedroom, so you want it to look good too. A handmade bed complete with a bespoke mattress will not only improve your sleep but also your life.

"Every element of a bespoke bed can be fully tailored and personalised to exacting comfort, support and style," say luxury handmade bed specialists, Savoir. "A made-to-order bed to your exacting design and comfort specifications can help you create a truly unique space where you can switch off and achieve a restorative night’s sleep." 

Materials are as important as size and appearance for multiple reasons. According to Savoir. "Natural fibres such as horsetail, wool (sheep and cashmere) and cotton all breathe exceptionally well. They provide excellent insulation properties and are critical for temperature regulation, which is important all year round." These materials are found in higher-end, luxury mattresses, toppers and bases and are a wise investment as the quality also means longevity. 

The Top Things To Consider When Purchasing A Mattress

The four key areas of focus with bespoke mattresses are posture, support, temperature and space:

Support - With the correct support for different parts of your body you can enhance your REM sleep – the most restorative, mood-enhancing part of your sleep cycle. Correct support relieves pressure points and removes the disruption from tossing and turning.

Posture - To keep your spine in its natural position, you must sink into the bed to some extent, or your spine will bend unnaturally. Keeping your body in the correct position is vital with feet slightly elevated to improve circulation.

Temperature - Your body temperature usually varies according to the sleep stage. Naturally, breathable materials are essential to maintaining your normal body temperature at the sleeping surface, channelling moisture away and in turn, improving the quality of your sleep.

Space - Space is essential. A standard king size bed allows you a comfortable 2ft 5 (75cm) each if you are sharing, but a larger bed offers greater comfort. Partner disturbances are reduced and the quality of your sleep reaches even greater heights.

Eclectic bedroom design with bold wallpaper and traditional rattan headboard.

Maintaining A Clean Mattress For Better, Healthier Sleep

The Better Sleep Council says mattresses should be replaced every 5 to 7 years, but we should be cleaning them and rotating them far more often than that. Deep-cleaning your mattress seasonally is an easy way to remember to do it and will keep dust and dust mites at bay. 

The majority of us sleep in more or less the same spot in bed every night and over the years our mattresses will begin to wear down unevenly. Rotating your mattress twice a year means you will always receive a good amount of support. Fluctuations in health or weight and changes in age or disabilities will mean your comfort needs change throughout life too, so this should be considered. 

As for pillows, you want to ensure they're the perfect height and plumpness to suit your needs and filling wise, feather rather than synthetic pillows can help prevent dust mites. 

A moooi love sofa in red in front of the window.

Additional Health Tips For Good Sleep Hygiene

The amount of sunlight we get has a huge role to play in sleep too. More of us have been working from home, children have been homeschooling and overall, we've been leaving the house far, far less. This results in less exposure to daylight, which can disrupt our internal body clocks.

Sleep neurologists believe that inconsistent sleep patterns can be just as bad or worse than sleep deprivation. This is because it confuses our brains which, like the rest of our bodies, thrive on routine. Setting up a wind-down routine can get you into a relaxing mind frame a few hours before bed and have you drifting off effortlessly when it's time to hit the hay. Having automated functions can make this easier.

Scent plays a big role in affecting our moods. When you’re ready to drift off, sniffing on some essential oils or using a relaxing pillow mist can be beneficial.  Lavender, sweet basil and jasmine are all known to help with calming and relaxation. 

A poor night's sleep can have you struggling with irritability, brain fog, sugar cravings and lack of concentration the following day. On a good night, your brain will cycle through two main stages of sleep several times each night: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep (which has three different stages within it). The deeper, non-REM sleep is particularly vital for our brain's function and health, so aiming for 7-9 hours a night will give your body ample time to get into these deeper stages.

The food we eat and when we eat it can impact our sleep. Avoiding heavy meals before bedtime will mean that our body's aren't expending energy on digestion.

Proper ventilation and regular cleaning will tackle issues such as mould and dust mites which can affect sleep by exacerbating allergies. Hypoallergenic bedding or an air purifier to reduce humidity can make a considerable difference. 

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