How to create the perfect sleeping environment

Feeling snoozy and being able to snooze can be two very different things.

Some people have that natural ability to conk out as soon they hit the pillow – while the rest of us need a little bit of help.

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There’s no point counting sheep when the heating’s too high and your pillow’s too hard, so we’ve consulted a sleep psychologist and an interior designer on how to create the ideal sleep sanctuary.

Take heed and those dark circles could disappear from right under your eyes.

The sleep psychologist says…

Getting proper shut-eye requires putting in some thought, says Professor of Psychology and Sleep Health Foundation director Dorothy Bruck.

And before anything else, that means making your bedroom a sleep-only zone.

“It shouldn’t be a multi-purpose room,” says Professor Bruck.

Unfortunately, it shouldn’t necessarily be a shared room either.

“You get better sleep without a partner,” she says.

“When one partner moves, the other person has a micro arousal, and you end up with a lighter sleep.”

Science also advises you keep any rigorous activity for the daylight hours, winding down an hour or two before you go to sleep.

This can mean different things for different people, although Professor Bruck advises ditching the screens you’ve probably been glued to all day for a warm bath or shower.

“It’s a good way of raising your core body temperature, proven to help you fall asleep faster,” she says.

Air temperature is a big factor – and so is making sure your feet (which are ‘thermo regulators’) can poke out if you’re too hot.

“When it’s warmer, go to bed in skimpy clothes, and for women going through menopause, setting the temperature to 19 degrees or less is proven to reduce hot flushes,” says Professor Bruck.

Surprisingly, it turns out that people who wear earplugs to bed aren’t weirdos – in fact, Professor Bruck recommends giving them a proper go before ruling them out.

The same goes for electric blankets, as long as you turn them off as soon as you slip under the covers.

And what of all the old traditional remedies? A glass of warm milk or a spritz of lavender spray?

“They might be more placebo affects,” says the professor, “Although that doesn’t mean they don’t work.”


The interior designer says…

Emma Strauss of Mandalay Designs has been helping clients create their ideal sleep space for decades.

“South-east facing bedrooms give you lovely morning sun to wake you up but no direct sunlight in the afternoon,” Ms Strauss says.

To keep the light out, plantation shutters offer an enviable blackout, plus give the option of flipping the shades for light-filled privacy.

Now, get ready for the Feng Shui.

“For proper Feng Shui you shouldn’t have your feet pointing toward the door when you’re in bed,” says Ms Strauss.

“Or a mirror above your bed – although that’s a bit strange anyway.”

On the bedside table, Ms Strauss keeps an oil burner (lavender), candle, water jug for midnight quenching and crystals for aiding peace, calm and quiet.

Invest in a bedside lamp with a dimmer if you have a partner with a contrasting sleep schedule – that way one of you can snuggle up with a book while the other nods off, she says.

When it comes to your bedroom’s colour scheme, Ms Strauss suggests sticking to cool, calming shades and neutral tones.

“Soft green or soft blue are peaceful bedroom colours… stay away from anything bright,” she says.

Feather and down pillows offer a soft landing for a weary head, and bedheads secure you and your pillow together, says Ms Strauss.

And finally, Professor Bruck and Ms Strauss both agree that synthetics have no place in the bedroom – instead stick to 100 per cent cotton sheets and bed linen (“as high thread count as you can afford”, says Ms Strauss).


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