Guest Post By: Sleep Help

How Natural Design Elements Can Help You Sleep

There’s no doubt that interior design can have a psychological impact. Color, texture, and shape all come together to create the overall mood and feel of a space. As the room in which you spend nearly eight hours every day, your bedroom design has to enhance its main purpose – sleep. Sometimes that means a supportive mattress but other times it means natural design elements that calm the mind and human body for a deeper night’s rest.

The Simplicity of Nature

Nature plays an important role in physical and mental health. Doctors first began to notice the power of nature in 1984 when Robert S. Ulrich tested the hypothesis that patients recovered more quickly when their hospital rooms had a window with a view of nature. After reviewing 10 years of patient charts, he found that patients who could look out on a natural scene versus one that looked at a brick wall recovered faster, had fewer negative comments from nurses, and took less pain medication. This research changed hospital design to include recovery-enhancing green space.

Time spent in nature can also improve mental health. A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that contact with nature improved mood no matter the season. Actual contact with nature provided the biggest boost but even nature photographs made people feel better.

Another study found that a 90-minute walk in nature can reduce rumination, a thought pattern that contributes to anxiety and depression. The same study also found that a nature walk reduced activity in the part of the brain associated with depression.

Natural design elements can bring the look, feel, and sometimes scents of a nature walk. In so doing, they can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, which, in turn, helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

How and Where to Use Natural Design Elements

The bedroom should be your place of calm. A space that separates you from the pressure and stress of the outside world. Natural design elements should reflect and enhance that feeling of calm. A few good places to start include:

1. Houseplants

A single houseplant in an otherwise minimalist room can have a powerful visual impact. Plants can also clean the air in your bedroom, enhancing sleep quality and improving next-day performance. NASA put out a list of plants that remove biotoxins from the air which included the Gerbera daisy, English ivy, aloe vera, mother-in-law’s tongue, and the spider plant. If you’re not sure what kind of plant you want to use, start looking at varieties that naturally grow in your area. Local vegetation can feel as though the out-of-doors extend inside.

2. Artwork

Photos and paintings of natural scenes can add a bit of color while relaxing your mind for better sleep. Pieces that focus on a single leaf, branch, or tree have the benefit of a simple, clean appearance that won’t fight with an otherwise sleek interior design.

3. Texture

Natural textures make you feel like you’re in nature. Wood is usually the first choice, but stone, brick, and faux textures can maintain a minimalist color palette while adding the depth. You can also think even simpler by using natural fabrics like cotton and linen in your bedding. Not only do these fabrics breathe beautifully, but they look and feel soft and natural.

One or two well thought out and placed design elements can put nature at your fingertips. Whether it’s a plant on your nightstand or stunning artwork, you’ll rest easier and sleep better.

By Ellie Porter - www.Sleephelp.org