Concept: Design Trends in Color and Light That are Wrecking Your Sleep Quality

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This week we are welcoming a guest post by Myra Campbell on behalf of Tuck!

A comfortable bedroom is the most important element of designing a healthy sleep environment. While bedding and other factors are essential, you may be overlooking others that can significantly influence your sleep quality.

Lighting and color in bedroom design shouldn't be underestimated -- and some new design trends in color and light can actually be harmful to sleep. Learn how you can improve your sleep with better bedroom design.

Blue Light is the Enemy of Sleep

Light is a powerful cue for your circadian rhythm. When you're exposed to light, your brain and body get the signal that it's daytime, and therefore, it's time to be awake. Light influences the systems that make you feel alert or sleepy.

While exposure to light during the day is normal and supports a healthy circadian rhythm, the same is not true at night. When you're exposed to bright lights in the evening, it can negatively influence your sleep patterns, telling your brain that it's daytime and time to be awake, even if you're getting ready to wind down and head to bed.

Any kind of bright light at night can be harmful, but blue light wavelengths are particularly detrimental to sleep. This light is common on laptops, mobile devices, and other electronic gadgets.

Exposure to blue light is especially problematic because it can influence the production of hormones that help you sleep. It suppresses full production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you feel sleepy at night. Without adequate production of this hormone, you may feel particularly awake and alert, even when it's time to go to sleep.

Although artificial light is nothing new, blue light wavelengths are not common in older sources of light. For example, incandescent lights contain more red wavelengths. Although new light bulbs such as fluorescents may be more energy efficient, they are often bluer.

You can improve your bedroom design to support quality sleep by modifying your lighting. If you're using bluish light, such as fluorescent light bulbs, consider changing them for incandescents. Although they are less energy efficient, incandescents can support healthier sleep. Ideally, you should only use incandescents in the late evening, as blue light wavelengths can delay production of melatonin for up to 90 minutes after turning the lights off. And it's a good idea to avoid looking at screens for the hour to two hours before you go to bed.

Calming Colors Can Support Sleep

Bold, bright hues may be the design trend for bedroom colors today, but they're not doing any favors for sleep. Bright colors are energizing and exciting, and while they are visually appealing, energizing and exciting are not qualities you want in your bedroom. Rather, you want your bedroom to be calming and relaxing.

Bold prints can have the same effect, while also increasing anxiety. A too busy pattern can be overwhelming and may make you feel anxious when you're trying to calm down and rest.

Although blue light wavelengths can be detrimental to sleep, blue walls have the opposite effect. Light blues, typically the color of the sky or the ocean, can help you feel calmer and drift off to sleep easier.

Blue isn't the only option for a calmer bedroom wall. Other colors that are supportive of sleep are earth tones, such as gray, beige, green, yellow, orange, and coral.

Generally, muted colors are the best. If you're drawn to a color that's not known for its calming qualities, consider toning it down and choosing a more muted shade of the color. And the type of paint you use matters, too. Consider using flat paint instead of eggshell, which will reflect more light. Flat paint is better at absorbing light and toning down the energy of the room.

Is your bedroom color and lighting helpful, or harmful for sleep?


Myra Campbell is a researcher for the sleep science and health organization Tuck.com. Her passion for art and design brought her into the field. She began by researching how to create a relaxing bedroom and learned that great design can help improve our health and well-being. Myra lives in southern California and shares her queen-sized bed with two rescue dogs.


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