BY LISSA COFFEY
Follow these strategies recommended by this ancient Chinese science to improve the energy in your bedroom and the quality of your sleep
Editor’s note: Savvy mattress retailers want to do everything they can to help their customers sleep better, including offering them sound advice and tips. Feel free to share this great guidance from Better Sleep Council spokeswoman Lissa Coffey with your shoppers (with credit given, of course). The BSC is the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.
Feng shui is the ancient Chinese science that works with the energy of the earth to make spaces harmonious and peaceful. This energy, or “chi,” when used positively, can strengthen relationships, support health, promote wealth and help you achieve better sleep. With just a few simple adjustments to your bedroom, feng shui shows us how the energy in your bedroom can work for you—even while you sleep. After all, your bedroom not only is your sanctuary, retreat from the world and place of rest, it’s the one room in which you spend the most time.
Location, location, location
Where the bedroom is located within your home can affect how well you sleep. Feng shui advises to choose a bedroom that is in the back of your home, close to the backyard. This area usually is quieter because front rooms are closer to the street and street noise. With a room near the backyard, you also have more privacy, which makes you feel safer.
If you have a two-story home, avoid stationing your bedroom over the garage. Having a room on top of the garage is disruptive to sleep for many reasons: noise, smells, warmer temperatures and even insects. For similar reasons, don’t place your bedroom over the kitchen, particularly over the stove. Warmth from the kitchen comes from appliances, and, because heat rises, this will affect the temperature of the room above.
You also want to avoid placing your first-floor bedroom below very active areas. You can imagine how sleep would be affected if you’re hearing laughter, a TV, footsteps or a toilet flushing over your head. Fortunately, apartment buildings and hotels tend to have thick, soundproof flooring so this doesn’t apply in those residences.
When it comes to both the size of the bedroom and the bed, look for that “Goldilocks” fit: not too big, not too small, but just right. We are most vulnerable when we are asleep. If the room is too big, it can be difficult to fully relax enough to sleep soundly. Feeling the need to be on alert is a survival instinct from thousands of years ago. If the room is too small, we can feel cramped or trapped, like we’re in a prison cell.
A twin-size bed generally is too small for the average-size adult to feel comfortable. Most colleges provide twin XL mattresses in dormitories for this reason. A full-size or queen-size bed usually is a good fit for most adults. If you happen to play in the NFL or NBA, you’re going to want a king-size bed for your large frame. Most couples are happy with a queen-size mattress. If you prefer a king, look for one that doesn’t have split box springs under the mattress, so it won’t create disharmony in your relationship, according to feng shui.
The command center
Feng shui says the bed should be placed in a commanding position in the bedroom. When you are lying in bed, you should be able to see the door in front of you, which will give you a feeling of safety and stability because you easily can see when someone or something enters your space. The wall opposite the door is the best place to position the bed. At the same time, you do not want to be directly in front of the door. The head of the bed should be placed against a wall, and there should be a headboard to stabilize the bed’s position in the room. Ideally, there should be equal space on either side of the bed so each person can get in and out easily and the room feels balanced. In the command center, you want to have access to turning on the light quickly and easily.
Avoid putting the head of the bed under a window. Windows represent the gateway from the bedroom to the outside world. Having your head under a window affects sleep from all the energy that comes from the outside, including noise, light, wind, scents and shadows. When you sense something unfamiliar, that survival instinct kicks in and you wake up, and it can be difficult to fall back asleep.
It’s important that chi be allowed to circulate freely throughout the bedroom, as well as around and under the bed. For this reason, keep clutter to a minimum. The bed should be elevated off the floor on a frame or a platform, not placed directly on the floor. Don’t store boxes, books or shoes under the bed; leave that space open for chi to flow through. Don’t overcrowd the room with furniture and keep any work-related or exercise-related items out of the bedroom. This works on a practical level, as well, because you probably know the agony of stubbing a toe in the middle of the night. How can you go back to sleep after that?
A clean and organized bedroom also helps you to feel more relaxed, and that’s good preparation for sleep.
For the best sleep, keep doors and windows shut to block noises and smells. Closet doors and cupboards also should be closed at night so chi can circulate in the room and not get “stuck” in small spaces. During the day, open windows to allow fresh air in.
When it comes to décor, choose colors that are soothing and relaxing. Natural colors—blues, greens and browns—are ideal. You want to evoke the same feelings you have when you think of the sky, a field of trees and a beautiful meadow. Warm colors signify activity and are energizing, so avoid colors such as bright reds, pinks and oranges. If you like those tones, choose more muted versions such as peach, maroon or lavender.
For wall décor, choose artwork that makes you happy. For example, a beautiful floral design is more likely to make you feel relaxed than a painting of a shipwreck. Think about what you see when you first wake up in the morning and how you want it to make you feel.
It’s best to keep electronics out of the bedroom, but if you insist on having a TV in the room, store it in a media cabinet behind closed doors. You also can cover it with a pretty blanket or piece of fabric when not in use. This way you don’t have a big black void taking up valuable space in the room.
According to feng shui, mirrors generally are not recommended in the bedroom. The main rule is that you don’t want to see yourself in the mirror when you’re in bed. This can be startling and disturb your sleep. So, if you want to have a mirror in the room, place it inside the closet door. Also, round or oval mirrors are preferred because they can help with the flow of energy in a room, and the shape symbolizes continuity in a relationship.
Keep water features, such as fountains, out of the bedroom. The sound can be disruptive to sleep, and the sound of water, in particular, might make you feel like you need to use the bathroom.
Lighting should be set on dimmers wherever possible. That way, you can control the light in the room and have options, depending on how much light you need.
Comfort is key
Feng shui recognizes how important it is for the bedroom be a comfortable place to rest. The room needs to be cool; a nice 68 degrees Fahrenheit is good. The room also should have good windows treatments to block out lights from outside. Most important, your mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep. Invest in the best mattress you can afford. And make sure your mattress continues to support you with time. Mattresses generally need to be replaced every five to
seven years, so frequently check your mattress to make sure it’s in good shape.
Bedding also is important. Choose soft fabrics that are comfortable on your skin. In general, look for sheets made of natural fibers and that breathe. Blankets also should be soft and cozy. And don’t go crazy with the pillows. Beds with too many decorative pillows can feel cluttered and crowded. You need one great pillow to actually sleep on, and it should be one that works with your preferred sleep position. The pillows you sleep on need to be replaced about every two years. After that, a couple of pillows is sufficient.
Lissa Coffey is a relationship expert, author of several books and broadcast journalist. A spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council, she stars in several videos that offer sleep and mattress-shopping tips for consumers.