Alaska Sleep Education Center

How To Use Color To Improve Your Quality of Sleep

Posted by Paisley Hansen on Aug 22, 2021 8:14:00 AM

Kid on sleeping bed, happy bedtime in white bedroom

Most people know that the color you choose to paint a room with can have a gradual effect on your mood. For example, light and soft colors such as neutrals and blues are known to be relaxing. Harsh and vibrant colors are more likely to produce a stress reaction, which is why those colors are usually reserved for out-of-the-way rooms. However, when colors are produced by light sources, the outcome is very different, and selecting the wrong one can dramatically affect your quality of rest. Here's how you can use certain colors to improve your quality of sleep. 


Choose Relaxing Paint Colors

If you're like most people, you know that certain colors make you feel positive or negative. For example, red is the color of danger, the color of love and one that can get your heart racing. Blue is cooler and makes people think of the ocean, whereas colors like brown and gray are often perceived as more drab. For that reason, you'd be hard-pressed to find a house that contained rooms painted black or hot pink. 

When it comes to the bedroom, you might wonder why it's so important to choose a relaxing paint color when you sleep with the lights out anyway. However, it's what happens before you close your eyes that matters. How many people only use the bedroom for sleeping? Chances are you like to read before you turn in, or maybe you do paperwork from the bedroom. The color the walls are painted with will either relax you or completely stress you out before you try to sleep.

Bedrooms should be reserved for relaxation, so the tones you choose must follow suit. Room colors that promote the best sleep are soft shades of blue, green, yellow or neutrals such as beige or eggshell. Also, when selecting paint for your bedroom, opt for matte instead of anything glossy which reflects light and could end up looking harsh.


Use Red Light for Sleeping

When you fall asleep naturally at night, your body repairs itself and restores your energy for the following day. This is part of what's called the circadian rhythm, or your body's 24-hour cycle that tells you when to sleep and when to wake. Sometimes it's referred to as your "internal clock" and it's linked to light. Sunlight signals alertness and when the darkness of nighttime approaches, the sleep hormone melatonin is produced.

Many people enjoy sleeping with some source of illumination nearby such as a nightlight, battery-powered candle and even ambient lighting. Unfortunately in many instances, these lights will actually disrupt the circadian rhythm.

It's important to understand what color light helps you sleep because compared with paint colors, the rules completely change. Unlike paint, the best color of light for sleeping is red. Red light allows the body to continue producing that all-important melatonin and is far less likely to juggle around your natural sleep cycle. 


Avoid Blue Light Before Bedtime

Getting enough sleep each night is far more important than just feeling rested the next day. While that's definitely a plus, especially if you've got a busy day of work scheduled.  Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your health in many other ways. Poor sleep is directly related to weight gain, moodiness and can even increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Despite the dangers of inadequate sleep, people sabotage their ability to sleep every day from exposure to blue light.

Blue light is emitted from electronic devices such as your television, cell phone and computer. Your eyes aren't adept at filtering this color light so your brain perceives it as daytime light, thus again triggering the wakening cycle. This effect can linger several hours between your electronic use and bedtime. 

To combat sleepless nights due to blue light, shut down your devices several hours before you turn in. You can also invest in a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses or dim the light settings. Better yet, try reducing the time spent on your computer altogether if possible.


Go Easy on Dark-Colored Furnishings

Paint colors and light sources aren't the only items in your home that affect a good night of sleep. Look around and take stock of the furnishings you have in your bedroom. What color furniture have you selected for your room? Are your comforter and pillows a dark color? What about the artwork you have hanging on your walls? While these things probably aren't the main source of color in your room, they can nonetheless take a toll on your sleep.

If your decor is mostly dark brown or black, maybe it's time to switch it out for a softer color. Invest in pastel bedding and soothing types of artwork. When you decorate a bedroom, it should have an easy-breezy atmosphere and not an intense, heavy feeling. Not only will this provide tranquility before bed, but softer colors are also much more pleasant upon waking.


Incorporate Your Favorite Colors

With all this talk about colors, what happens if you aren't a fan of pastel hues and your favorite color just happens to be orange, dark purple or neon green? Items in a color you love will always be natural mood-boosters and you can still give them smaller roles in the bedroom; just don't make them the star of your color scheme. Instead, reserve your favorite color for clothing, bags or the theme in a different room.

Another reason not to use a dark color for your bedroom, even if it's your favorite, is that it can make the room feel smaller. Strong colors can make you feel enclosed in a small space, whereas lighter colors or white will make a room feel larger. This feeling of having more space around you to breathe in automatically promotes relaxation.


Add Color Through Aromatherapy

Another way you can add color to your nighttime routine is through the use of aromatherapy. That's right, you can use your sense of smell to visualize a relaxing color! One perfect example would be the use of lavender essential oil and imagining light purple. This shade is restful and it just so happens to be that the scent of lavender is used to promote sleep. If you find light blue particularly sleep-inducing, try something with an ocean-inspired scent. For green, you may find bergamot or cucumber fragrances restful. 

Getting the right amount of sleep is important for good health and the use of certain colors can help. If you concentrate on lighter and more pastel shades for your room decor while increasing your exposure to red light, you'll find that not only does the quantity of your sleep increase, but also the quality. 

Still searching for the solution? All of these can help you get a restful night in any bedroom but there are also professionals who can aid in your fight with insomnia when the answer is not easy.  Call the Alaska Sleep Clinic for a free 10-minute consultation.

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Topics: bedroom, blue light screen, sleep quality, design

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