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Sleep Sensitivity

Hue Knew! Colors Affect Your Well-Being

Feeling sleepy? Didn’t get enough sleep last night? If your answers are yes, you’re not alone.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than a third of adults in America are not getting the recommended seven or more hours of sleep each night on a regular basis.

Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with lower metabolism, increased weight, and the risk of developing chronic conditions suchas cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Lack of sleep can also lead to unwanted behavior in adults and children.

Sleep deprivation

One reason for the decline in sleep is that our devices allow us to connect to work and play 24/7, and we have a tough time putting them down. Another is that burdened with many responsibilities, people are attempting to do more each day by sleeping less.

You may think that sleeping is optional, but your body knows better and may be sending you signals that it wants you to change your ways. If you are ready to accept the fact that getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for your well-being, the National Sleep Foundations has some healthy sleeping tips you might find helpful.

Changing the color of your bedroom walls is an option I’d like you to consider.

Why would color have an effect on you when your eyes are closed? Human-based researcher Deborah Burnett, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has been studying cases to identify why color and light have such a strong effect on both our quality and quantity of sleep. She suggests that there is a process of getting to that deep restful stage — the time the body preps itself for sleep. During this preparation stage, our body uses its external or environmental cues, including color and light, to synchronize our biological rhythms to the earth’s 24-hour light and dark cycle.

Getting a restful night’s sleep

Looking for new color options for their hotel chain, Travelodge UK took a peek inside the bedrooms of over 2,000 participants. They concluded that the best quality sleep can be induced using color, with blue being at the top of the sleep color chain.

Yellow and green also received high marks for creating a restful environment. The warm, life-giving quality of yellow is one of the things that make it a very healing hue. Green is a balance of both ends of the color spectrum. It evokes both warmth and coolness. A color ever-present in nature, it nurtures the body and soul.

White, off-white, and cream bedroom occupants are more likely to work non-stop and quite literally take their work to bed with them.

Red is far too stimulating to induce sleep. However, one surprising finding from the study dispels the idea that those who share a red bedroom have more sex. They report making love only once a week as compared to a couple sharing a caramel-colored room, who on average engage in sex three times per week, more than any other color.

Purple is a color associated with creativity because it can be mentally stimulating. However, this can make it difficult to quiet your mind. People with purple bedrooms reported sleeping the least, averaging just under six hours a night.

The study also found that too much brown can create sad, depressed feelings — the antithesis of the mood you are trying to achieve.

Gold décor in the bedroom is favored by those who value wealth. But having money doesn’t mean they sleep more soundly. On average, this group sleeps more than an hour less than those with blue bedrooms.

While the results of the survey are helpful, they don’t quite get to the root of the issue.

Using color to invite sleep

It is not surprising that the survey found blue bedrooms provided the most restful sleep. The color blue naturally calms the body and quiets the mind. Even before science could explain this phenomenon, feng shui and Vastu practitioners recommended blue for calm spaces. Blue continues to be the color most people naturally gravitate to when the want to create an environment that is tranquil, calming, and restful.

If you take a closer look, you will find that to evoke feelings of rest and relaxation, all of a color’s characteristics, not just the hue, must be considered. The value and chroma of each color in a scheme also play a role in evoking feelings. The key is to choose colors with the characteristics that best support the mood you are trying to create.

The easiest way to create a tranquil, calming, and restful space is to follow a formula.

Choose cool colors rather than warm colors. Cool colors — blues, greens, and lavender
— are more calming than warm colors — reds, yellows, and oranges.

Select low chroma colors rather than purer or more saturated hues. High chroma colors are pure, saturated, and energetic. Low chroma colors are muted and more sedate. Beige, gray, and all neutrals are low chroma colors.

Choose colors in a limited range of values — low, middle, or high key — to reduce the contrast between colors.

Schemes that work well for this mood are monochromatic and analogous. Monochromatic harmony uses various values (tints, tones, and shades) within the same color family. Analogous harmonies are based on three or more colors that sit side-by-side on the color wheel.

It is also best to go for smooth rather than rough textures, finishes, and surfaces. Opt for indistinct or no pattern. By minimizing pattern, texture, and contrast you tone down the energy.

Even if you have your heart set on a bedroom color that isn’t considered calming, you can adapt this formula. For example, tame high-energy reds, yellows, or oranges by selecting lower chroma versions of these colors, or quiet purple by using it in a scheme with dreamy blue, earthy green, or cheery yellow.

If you have love for patterns, choose motifs with blurred edges or blended colors rather than hard-edge geometrics. Can’t live without bold color or high contrast design? Place it on the same wall as your headboard.

Of course, like all color rules, these are only guidelines. The best color for the walls of your bedroom is the one that make you feel at comfortable and at ease. Find the color that works best for you and start getting into the healthy sleep habit. Take it from me. I went from chronically sleep deprived to regularly sleeping soundly eight or more hours a night. It will make a big difference in your quality of life.

Kate Smith, President and Chief Color Maven, Sensational Color, [email protected]

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