Tranquillity counts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2012, 12:00am

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In designing and decorating their bedrooms, many people end up creating an environment that does little to aid relaxation and is anything but sleep-friendly. Space constraints, particularly in Hong Kong, can mean the bedroom becomes part office, part storeroom, with computer, television, exercise machine and assorted other gizmos seeming to occupy every spare inch.

The overall sense is of 'busyness', not calm. So, since the quality of the bedroom environment is known to have a big impact on how well one sleeps, it is important to pay heed to recommendations for layout and design.

'Keep clutter in a bedroom to the minimum,' says Kenneth Tjon, managing director of Dormirest. 'More furniture will attract dust, as will rugs and curtains, so try to avoid this. Choose curtains with a smooth surface [which are easy to maintain] and effectively block out light.'

The starting point should always be to create a space conducive to sleep, not somewhere to multitask. In general, that means doing away with the television and anything the mind normally associates with work or which increases mental activity.

As Tjon points out, flickering light from a television or computer screen can confuse the body clock. And, while people may think watching the late-night news or a movie is a good way to unwind, this is something of a fallacy. Whatever the content, it will serve to stimulate more than relax. And aside from the programming, commercials can be a jarring interruption.

Regarding accessories, such as nightstands, his advice is to opt for pairs. And in terms of shapes, it is better to go for ovals and circles rather than items that are all angles and sharp corners.

There is an aesthetic aspect to this, but also a practical one, if someone is heading out to the bathroom during the night. 'Quiet, muted hues are favourite bedroom colour choices as they tend to be more comforting and relaxing,' Tjon says. Cool colours, such as blue and green, provide a soothing feeling that adds everyday livability, with the bonus of visually expanding small bedrooms and making the space appear larger.'

He notes that it makes sense to hang an inspiring or 'relaxing' piece of art on the wall opposite your bed. As one of the last things seen at the end of the day, it will help to give the body a powerful cue that it is time to nod off.

According to Dondy Poernomo, general manager, Asia, at Okooko, lights that gradually dim give a similar prompt, while lavender-based and other fragrances defuse stress and prepare the mind for sleep. 'Since body temperature naturally drops [at night], we need suitable blankets or a quilt to keep us warm,' he says. 'Wool and organic materials are recommended for both summer and winter time.'