Sleep tight: Top tips to get a good night's sleep
When we bought our new home there was one room that I wanted to decorate straightaway – the bedroom. Since I started going through the menopause, sleep issues have been a regular problem and the bedroom has become a battleground. Consequently I wanted somewhere that would have me a sleeping beauty rather than an insomniacal ogre.
Having the right bedroom environment is key to enjoying a restful night’s sleep. The colours you choose for your wall, the temperature, lights – these can all play a part in your how much and how well you sleep.
So when the sleep experts at Tempur asked if I wanted some tips on how to make my bedroom an oasis of calm, I jumped at it!
“Simple changes to the interior design can drastically improve sleep quality, leading to better mental and physical health,” managing director Tobin James says.
“From choosing a calming wall colour to ensuring the temperature is just right, there are a number of ways to create the optimum bedroom environment for quality rest.”
If you’re sitting comfortably – but not so comfy you fall asleep, please! – here are the best ways to make sure your bedroom is the perfect place of rest…
Stay cool, baby
Your room and body temperature play a key part in how well you sleep – as anyone who has suffered a hot flush or night sweats will testify to. Our body heat naturally increases in the evening, even without our delightful hormonal changes, so bedrooms should be a little cooler than the rest of the house.
I can’t sleep without something over me, even when we lived in Madrid, so I sleep with a lighter quilt in the summer or sometimes just the duvet cover. We usually put the heavier quilt on in the winter, but this year I’m going to try having warm blankets nearby rather than a heavier quilt. It’s easier to add them than keep fighting with Mr 50Sense over who gets to throw the quilt over the other one first…
If it’s safe, keep an upstairs window open, too, so you get plenty of ventilation and air running through your rooms. I hate the stuffy feeling when there’s no air.
A word of warning, though: young children and older people may need a slightly warmer bedroom temperature – their bodies’ metabolic responses to the cold are slower and not so developed.
Dream in colour
No matter what Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen might have done on Changing Rooms, bedrooms are not the place for bright or brash colours. Muted, calming palettes such as light blue, soft pink, mild yellow, soothing green and gentle grey will create a feeling of tranquility and help you on the way to a good night’s sleep.
Forget reds, oranges and purples as they’ll increase your heart rate and blood pressure, stimulating your body to stay awake by decreasing the melatonin levels you need to feel drowsy.
We’ve gone for neutral white – it was sickly magnolia before – with pops of colour in blue and mustard. By going for colourful accents, we’re adding interest without disturbing the calming sense of the room. We just need some paintings up and we’re done. I love sitting here.
If you’re after inspiration, check out Beautiful Homes in the North for picture-perfect style.
Switch that light off
We may feel tired when it’s dark, but that’s because this is when your pineal gland starts to wake up and release melatonin. It is melatonin that relaxes our muscles and helps us drift off. Bright lights stop this process happening, so make sure your room is as dark as possible. Invest in black-out blinds or lined curtains and ensure any chinks of light are well-covered.
I can’t do it, but try using an eye mask to stop the early morning light from waking you. It may help you sleep better – and if not, you’ll still look like a glamorous 1940s film star. Or perhaps Zorro. But that’s not so bad.
Tidy up your room
You know you should listen to your mum. Having lots of clutter in your bedroom adds to your stress levels. Have a Marie Kondo tidy-up and keep what’s on show to a minimum. Cut down on books and personal items and put your shoes and clothes away.
I love ottomans for storing things in – we have a mustard one – and as I’m scarred by memories of childhood picnics (you try carrying half the kitchen to outer Northumberland on the bus with you), I use picnic baskets to store towels and linens out of sight.
Symmetry can help you achieve true zen, so try matching pairs of plants, photo frames and bedside tables either side of the bed for added balance.
Green is go
House plants are a simple way to help you feel calm and relaxed. If, like me, your green fingers leave a lot to be desired, go for an easy-to-care-for plant such as cactii, cheese plants, spider plants, ferns, aloe vera and yucca.
I had the most beautiful peace lily that would occasionally wilt, so I’d bung in a pint of water and it would keep going strong. Perfect. (I gave it to a friend when we emigrated and she looked after it, the bugger. It didn’t last.)
Lavender or geraniums also put out a lovely scent that can help you get to sleep easier. I love the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray as you can be precise where you need it. On occasions, I put the This Works Sleep Balm on my wrists, too, and sniff it when I wake up in the middle of the night. They both help just to relax me.
Take time to get the right mattress
A mattress should last around eight years so make sure you spend time getting the right one. And yes, that means jumping up on the show bed and even moving around. Your bed is by far the most significant component to achieving of a good night’s rest and must provide the right level of support for you.
A mattress that is too soft will cause slouching, while one that is too firm can put pressure on hips, shoulders and blood flow.
And no, I didn’t do this and now we have to have a mattress topper because we spent too much on this mattress to change it already.
A spritz of lavender or geranium sprayed on the pillow can also help to induce slumber.
Put your phone down
Unless you’re reading this and then make a mental note to put your phone down straight after!
Social media, emails, news sites – they all do their bit stimulate our minds and stop us sleeping. Who hasn’t lain awake for half an hour fuming over that argument on Twitter?
Menopause can make little things blow up out of proportion, especially in the middle of the night, so switching off mentally and physically is important.
Plus the blue light from gadgets can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythms, which are crucial for sleep.
Our solution has been to ban computers, tablets, phones and TVs from the bedroom altogether.
What are your top sleep tips? There are many women out there who’d like to know! Let us know in the comment box below.
Many thanks to Tempur.
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