Lighten the load on brain health during your sleeping hours with these smart ideas
Brain research has shown how relevant sleep is to health, so it’s more important than ever to get a good night’s sleep.
In the bedroom, that means not just decorating with calming colours, but also minimising stressors and optimising conditions for a restful night.
We asked experts for advice and products to achieve that.
A key obstacle to uninterrupted sleep is noise. To reduce it, architect and designer Adam Meshberg recommends soundproofing the walls – building an additional thin wall in front of the original, adding a layer, or sealing any cracks or gaps within the walls.
To a lesser extent, wall coverings can absorb sound, he says, though a padded wall covering will do more than simple wallpaper.
Cracks and gaps are also a problem when it comes to windows. Restoring or replacing draughty windows won’t just reduce your heating or cooling bills, doing so can make a huge difference to the amount of noise which seeps in.
For a simpler fix, getting an upholstered headboard (or a bed that comes with one) helps with acoustics, says designer Adriana Hoyos. Go for fabrics at least 1mm thick – suede, velvet, leather and leatherette are stylish options for absorbing excess noise.
Keep the lights out
Lights out is essential to bedtime. In particular, avoid exposure to the blue light from LED bulbs and electronic devices, says Pablo Castillo, sleep medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic.
“The body reacts to this artificial light as if it (were) still daytime,” he says, “and the pineal gland will stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin, resulting in poor sleep quality.”
That’s why you should stay away from bright light for at least three hours before bedtime, reduce screen time, and set devices on night mode an hour or two before bed, plus use blue-light-blocking coating on screens or glasses if you “use computers and digital devices heavily”, Castillo says.
To lightproof the bedroom, “blackout window treatments are a must”, says Greg Roth, a designer.
“Installing a cornice box at the ceiling level can help prevent light from escaping upward from the windows and reflecting off the ceiling.”
Go soft and simple
Simplify your space for sleeping only. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a mansion or a studio, you can declutter for a calming effect.
A sleep-friendly bedroom is like a “good snuggle” – one that makes you “feel embraced and safe”, like a cocoon.
As for decor, keep things light and uncomplicated.
Regulate your schedule
Not everyone needs eight hours of sleep, but to “avoid chaos in your circadian rhythms, it is suggested that you maintain the same schedule every day”, says Rachel Salas, sleep specialist and associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“Lights in the bedroom should be dimmable or have the ability to adjust to a low setting,” Meshberg says. They can help your brain transition to slumber mode.
Focus on the bed
The most important component for a good night’s sleep is the bed. That’s why selecting the right mattress, sheets and pillows can help you. Meshberg recommends 200- to 300 thread-count organic cotton sheets. They “breathe well” and don’t get “satiny and shiny” like sheets with higher thread counts.
Also, “the quality and proper weight of your duvet and down comforter are essential in regulating your temperature”, Meshberg says.
When it comes to mattress, try memory foam. These work well for those sharing beds with restless sleepers because the memory foam won’t move around as much, he says.