We all know about the many factors that come into play when it comes to sleep: gut health, nightly shutdown routine and exercise. But your sleep environment also says a lot about the quality of zzz’s you get at night. Ill-fitting pillows, clutter and distracting electronics can be major sleep thieves.
If designed right, though, your bedroom has limitless potential. Between those four walls, you can have a sanctuary, a REM fortress, a dream world… This space can also symbolize your relationship with yourself, your partner and the most important things in your life. And feng shui — the ancient Chinese practice of balancing energies in any given space by placing your furniture and belongings a certain way — might help.
Anjie Cho, feng shui expert, interior designer and creator of Holistic Spaces, says, “Your bedroom represents you. Other than maybe your office, you spend a majority of your time in your bedroom, especially if you get six to eight hours of sleep at night.” And that’s when the so-called magic happens: “Because you’re unconscious and in a passive state while you sleep, you’re open to absorbing energy around you more easily,” Cho says.
This energy she speaks of, also known as chi, is the foundation of feng shui. Good quality chi in your home is believed to promote strong relationships, support health and wealth and contribute to a better sense of well-being. If your bedroom is cluttered, has too many bright colors and is positioned poorly, your feng shui (and sleep) will suffer. Here are some of Cho’s feng shui tips for building a peaceful bedroom for better sleep.
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9 Feng Shui Tips for Better Sleep
1. Get a full or queen size bed.
Think back to your twin bed or futon in college. Would you still want to be sleeping in it? We didn’t think so. Cho says getting a full or queen size bed is ideal for feng shui because it fosters a restful night of sleep and lets chi circulate properly beneath it. It also creates a sense of togetherness between you and your partner (or future partner!). By comparison, twin beds can feel constricted and impermanent, whereas king size beds can be too spacious to promote intimacy. Plus, going oversized often means split box springs under the mattress, which can create disharmony, not to mention cause issues with your back, Cho says.
2. Create your command center.
In feng shui, placing your bed in a “commanding position” is key. This means that your bed isn’t directly in line with the door and that you can see the door in front of you when you’re lying down. The commanding position puts you in a “safe” place and gives you a sense of stability (both physical and metamorphic) because you can spot whatever enters your space. Another important part of positioning your bed is to make sure you have equal room on both sides, so both people are able to get into bed easily. By making space, you create a balance of energy on either side of the bed.
“The headboard keeps you connected with your partner and stabilizes you in bed.”
3. Get a-head(board).
It’s time to start a new Pinterest board. According to feng shui principles, Cho recommends opting for a sturdy headboard, preferably a wooden one, with no bars or holes on it. “The headboard keeps you connected with your partner and stabilizes you in bed. Not having a headboard makes your relationship feel more temporary,” Cho says. And if you’re single, a sturdy headboard can help attract a strong and secure relationship, proponents believe. If buying a new headboard isn’t in your budget right now, some feng shui experts suggest adding two large pillows behind your sleeping pillows. This makes for a comfortable and soft DIY “headboard” in the meantime. But Cho warns, “It’s better to have a headboard if at all possible. If you can’t afford one, then you can try the pillows but it’s not a substitute for a solid headboard.”
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4. Keep underneath your bed clutter-free.
You might not realize it, but the energy from the things you store underneath your bed can transfer to you, Cho says. That’s why feng shui practitioners advise clearing out the chaos, so energy can flow easily around you while you’re sleeping. “If those things have or represent active energy, like shoes, books or an exercise mat, you can absorb it on a subconscious level.” If you absolutely have to store things there (hello city living!), Cho recommends limiting them to soft items, like bed sheets, linens and pillows.
5. Take mirror placement to heart.
Different schools of feng shui have opposing views on mirrors in the bedroom, but Cho says having round or oval mirrors actually symbolize continuity in a relationship and helps with the flow of chi in the room. Many feng shui experts advise against having a mirror directly in front of your bed because it may cause infidelity in a relationship, and it might also be jarring to see your reflection if you wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, you can position a full-length mirror away from your bed, so that you can see a reflection of the door and who’s entering. Or, stash that looking glass on the inside of your closet door.
6. Invest in better bedding.
“When it comes to choosing bedding, go with something that feels good and that you’re drawn to,” Cho says. “I recommend getting organic cotton sheets whenever possible because they’re toxin-free and breathable. No one sleeps well if they’re too hot or too cold,” Cho says. Softness matters, too. The general rule is that the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets. The National Sleep Foundation recommends going with a thread count between 200 and 400. (Though, in the summer, you’ll want the thread count to be on the lower end to help with airflow.)
“Earth tones, such as blue, green and brown, are best for the bedroom.”
And then there’s the pillow situation. A welcoming bed has soft blankets and enough pillows for two people. Piling on too many pillows makes your bed feel too crowded and cluttered, according to feng shui experts. Finding the right kind of pillow will depend largely on your sleep position. For example, if you sleep on your back, you’ll want to get a thin pillow to support your neck. (Going too thick will throw it out of alignment).
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7. Decorate with relaxing colors.
Earth tones, such as blue, green and brown, are best for the bedroom, Cho says. And this is backed by the National Sleep Foundation, too. When your ganglion cells — the receptors in the retina of your eyes — pick up the color blue, your blood pressure and heart rate slow down, which help prepare you for sleep.
“These colors help you relax and are soothing to the eyes. Active colors like red and bright pink can energize you too much,” Cho says. If you like those hues, try adding touches of peach, coral, burgundy or purple in your sheets, pillows or curtains (rather than splashed across all four walls).
8. Be selective with electronics in your room.
You guessed it. Electronics, like a TV, laptop and smartphone, are a bedroom no-no because they can delay — or disrupt — sleep. If you use your phone as your alarm clock, keep it five to 10 feet away from your bed so you have to get up to shut it off. This way, you’re also not tempted for a late-night scroll on Instagram or Facebook. Guilty? “Before you consider buying a white noise maker, I would try to remove as many electronics from your bedroom,” Cho says. According Cho and other feng shui experts, electronics release electromagnetic energy, even if they’re not being used, so it’s best to keep them out of the bedroom. You might also want to try flowing to these yoga poses to help prepare your body for bed.
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9. Enhance your space with plants and essential oils.
While different schools of feng shui don’t always agree on having plants in the bedroom, Cho believes they’re great for sleep. “Snake plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night. I also like golden papas and orchids,” Cho says. The green color of plants can be soothing to the eyes and help put you in a good mood.
And when you wake up in the morning, seeing a vibrant plant can help energize you, she adds. You can also try playing up your sense of smell. Sometimes, scent is all you need to shift energy in a room from stressed and anxiety-ridden to calm and collected. A 2012 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that people are more excited to go to bed on sheets with a fresh scent. That’s why Cho and many other feng shui experts also recommend getting a diffuser with essential oils. “Orange and lavender oils are great for de-stressing and relaxing,” Cho says.