There are many factors that can affect your sleep quality — from room temperature and light to scent and sound. Obviously, the big ones, like your mattress and bedding, are tops when it comes to prioritizing your sleep. However, you may not realize that the color you painted your bedroom could be having an impact on the quality of your sleep.
Even though you shut your eyes at night, when you’re awake and in your bedroom, the color of the room can actually affect your mood and senses. Color psychology experts say while some colors will put you naturally at ease, there are other colors that will put your mind and body on heightened alert. If you think about it from evolutionary means, it makes sense to identify certain colors as bad/dangerous and others as good/safe. Even though we’ve gone from stone platform beds to plush custom mattresses, we’ve still got a little bit of that color reactivity in use.
So, how are you to know which paint colors will hurt your sleep and which will help? We’re going to tell you! Let’s highlight the best colors for the bedroom and which to avoid, as well as some other easy bedroom design tips to create the ultimate sleeping environment:
Why is Color Important?
Humans have always associated different colors with different emotions, like red with anger or blue with calmness. Did you know that red pen teachers use to mark up mistakes on tests was chosen purposefully? And over time, scientists and experts have shown that colors can directly influence not only our emotions in a moment, but our moods and behaviors, which can directly affect sleep quality.
Suzy Chiazzari, a color therapy and holistic interior design consultant explains, “Your bedroom decor can certainly have an impact upon your quality and quantity of sleep per night.” So when you have a better understanding of how colors can affect you, you can better choose the right color to help you sleep more soundly. Who knows? A great night’s sleep might be just a can of paint and a weekend project away.
The Worst Bedroom Colors for Sleep
Red The color red is very stimulating for our minds and bodies, making us more alert, increasing our heart rate, and boosting brain activity. While this rich color may seem dark and comfy for sleeping, or even romantic, it is actually the worst color for your bedroom. Instead of making you feel relaxed, red walls tend to make people feel restless, making it harder to relax and ease into a good night’s sleep.
Dark grey When you think of creating a cozy space, you may be inclined to choose a dark color like grey that makes you feel like you’re tucked away in a cave. However, this gloomy color can actually promote depressing moods and feelings which can be distressing, as the color reminds us of dark days. Instead, you can opt for silver or light greys with blue undertones which will promote better sleep.
Bright purple This color looks cheery and fun, but bright purple colors can be overly stimulating for your brain. Because purple has red undertones, especially bright purple, this color can make you feel too alert and make you sleep more poorly. If you like the color purple, we suggest going for something more muted and with more blue undertones, like a pastel lavender color.
Dark brown Painting your room a dark brown color is the wrong way to go. While this color is earthy and may seem cozy, brown is quite gloomy, which can increase your subconscious feelings of sadness and irritability. With brown walls, you may face restless sleep that causes you to feel groggy and tired.
Black The color black might seem sleek, sexy, and even cozy, but this dark color may be affecting your sleep negatively. Some people opt for a black accent wall, or decide on black to make a bright room feel darker. But in color psychology, they have found this color symbolizes negative feelings like anger, fear, and sadness. Because of this, it is one of the worst colors to paint your bedroom.
The best bedroom colors for sleep
Blues The color blue is commonly associated with calm and openness — like the sky, or the sea. However, there’s scientific evidence that blue causes us to relax. Here’s how it works: our brains are especially receptive to the color because of our ganglion cell receptors in our eyes. These receptors are most sensitive to the color blue, and when they sense it, they actually send a message to your brain telling it you are in a calm environment. This causes your brain to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and even activate hormones like melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Soft yellow When you think of yellow, the first thing you probably think of the sun. But we're not talking sunlight yellow, but a pastel, muted yellow. A soft yellow makes the perfect color for your bedroom, as the muted tone imitates morning light, promoting tranquility and alleviating stress. However, bright yellow colors should be avoided. Bright, vivid yellow colors promote energy and alertness, which can cause you to get wound up before bed.
Cool greens Similar to the color blue, the color green reminds us of nature, which is inherently calming because it feels alive and open. But, what’s cool about green is that it also signals parts of our brain to relax and calm down, making it a great, non-stimulating color for the bedroom. When it comes to choosing the right green, avoid greens with warm or yellow undertones, as these may be too vivid for your eyes and end up stimulating your brain. Instead, choose a green with cool, blue undertones, like mint or a pastel teal.
Light earth tones This one may surprise you, but stone shades are actually great bedroom colors that can promote a better night sleep. Color experts say that orange helps your body with indigestion, which is something many of us deal with at the end of the day, especially after dinner. However, when it comes to choosing the right orange, you need to be careful. Don’t go for something too bright or stimulating and instead choose a more neutral orange color, like a natural terracotta color. Alternatively, more neutral tan and beige colors with orange undertones are a good choice too.
Light pinks This color isn’t just for kids rooms. The color light pink is soft, neutral, and tranquil, allowing our bodies to sit at ease and totally relax. In fact, in Feng Shui, they suggest using a neutral skin tone color like light pink because it promotes a calm, zen-like feeling. When it comes to choosing the right color pink, we suggest light pinks with orange undertones. Avoid bright, hot pinks with very red undertones, because these can be overwhelming.
Paint & design tips for better sleep
It’s not just the paint color that you need to take into account when trying to make your bedroom a calming oasis. Here are a few other tips to bring everything together:
Use flat paint. Don’t use a shiny or glossy paint finish, as it will reflect too much light. Instead, opt for a flat, matte paint finish that will absorb light and create a space that feels calm and soothing. While this seems like a minor detail, the finish is really important when you think of how the sun and your lights will reflect off of it, which greatly affects how you perceive and interact with the color. Eggshell works, too.
Choose a soothing color pallet. Once you decide on the best wall color for your room — whether that’s blue, green, or even a pretty, light pink — you should decide how to compliment that color best. Typically in interior design, you look for colors on the opposite side of the wheel to contrast it with, as these colors compliment each other best thanks to their brightness. However, in bedroom design, you’ll want to stay away from this and instead choose colors within the same pallet, colors that evoke the same feelings and have the same tones. When you choose colors with the same blue undertones or colors that have the same airiness, this allows you to maximize your bedroom wall color choice and get a better night’s sleep.
If you can’t paint, use accent colors. We understand that not everyone can paint their room, for example, if you’re renting. The positive here is that in most rentals the walls are all neutral tones anyway. But you can take the calming vibe up a notch with the right bedding, furniture and décor colors. For example, infuse green in your room with some beautiful house plants — this also boosts your bedroom's oxygen levels and allows for better sleep. You can also add throw pillows or invest in art that reflects some of the best bedroom colors for sleep we mentioned above.
Use removable wallpaper instead of paint. Another great option for those who can’t paint their bedroom walls is removable wallpaper. This stuff is easy to find, easy to put up, and even easier to remove, making it a great option for students and renters. We suggest choosing a pattern that isn’t too busy or distracting and is one of the relaxing bedroom colors we listed above — blue, soft yellow, cool greens, organic orange, or pink. Maybe a subtle repeating pattern, which can add some coziness and design detail at the same time.
Invest in cozy bedding. We always love classic, clean white bedding. White will look good against any bedroom wall color you choose, plus the white sheets and bedding will always make you feel like you’re in a luxurious hotel room. If you want, you can always infuse some color with throw pillows that are in the same color pallet as your walls. When it comes to the comfort of your bedding, we always suggest going for natural cotton sheets that will allow your body and skin to breathe naturally at night. Polyester and silk sheets might seem fancy, but they’re going to make you overheat at night, causing restless sleep. We also suggest going for more organic, natural duvets and blankets, like temperature-adjusting down or heat-regulating wool which will always ensure you get a comfortable night’s sleep.