By Diana Saufley
I have had so many friends tell me that they have a hard time going to sleep or staying asleep. I think it is in part due to the pace of life that we now feel the need to keep in step. There are many other causes, some medical, some environmental and some the choice of our décor and surroundings.
Our bedrooms are where we spend a large portion of our lives both asleep and awake. It should be a place of refuge, where we can feel relaxed. Most experts agree that having a television in the bedroom makes for bad karma and can cause sleeplessness or interrupt sleep cycles. Being an interior designer as well as a registered nurse, I could delve into some of the medical things that can cause sleeplessness, but we will stick mainly to the environmental for this purpose.
Coloring your world in calm soothing colors that appeal to you is a good place to start in designing your retreat. Bright colors tend to cause wakefulness and attention, more neutral colors or softer tones of colors like green, blue, tan, brown and off white are relaxing. Take cues from nature for picking colors used in major areas like the walls and or bedspread. Lighting affects color and its presentation to the eye. In a bedroom, lamps are essential for reading but the eye blasting overhead lighting from a ceiling fan or other ceiling fixture can be fatiguing to the eye and not a respite creator. Change out ceiling light controls with a dimmer switch or change the light fixture with less bright bulbs or fixture.
If your room is bright due to many windows or windows that capture a lot of light, look at a darkening option for your bedroom. One option that I often create is blackout draperies. When closed, blackout draperies can literally make a room look like it is nighttime. Other, more light filtering than light blocking options are: shutters, blinds, and shades. You can also combine these with draperies for more options in the quantity of sunlight you want at various times.
Additional practices to put in place is making your room as dark as possible while sleeping. That means no nightlights or other lights. Turn your clock so that it faces away from your face so when you wake during the night you will not search to orient yourself, which can wake you. Turn the thermostat a little cooler at night so sweating and heat do not cause you to wake during the night. Likewise, make sure your bladder is empty before you retire to bed and do not allow yourself to have bedside water. This fills the bladder and causes more wakefulness during the search for the glass in a sleepy stupor.
Finally, invest in a mattress that is less than 8-10 years old. Get a mattress that is comfortable for you and your spouse. Beds now come with individual adjustment for each side of the bed if both partners cannot be accommodated by a traditional mattress. Purchasing a good mattress pad, quality sheets may seem like pampering, but isn’t that exactly what you want in your personal bedroom retreat? Taking a warm shower before bedtime, light stretching, listening to soft instrumental music or reading can be a relaxing way to wind down before sleeping.
There is a reason that the spa business is a multi-million dollar success. We go to spas to allow ourselves to relax and “retreat”. So do the same for yourself in your own retreat at home. Create a space that makes you feel set apart from the world where sleep is the goal.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8