How Bedroom Lighting Can Affect Your Sleep

By Samantha Kent

Sometimes your bedroom decor and design come as an afterthought if you’ve been focusing on other areas of your home. However, you’ll spend nearly a third of your life in this one room and this article will show you how bedroom lighting can affect your sleep. The bedroom is the space where you escape from stress and take a break from daily challenges. It not only needs to feel welcoming but it has to support an important biological necessity – sleep.

Why Worry About Bedroom Lighting? 

Comfortable mattress, breathable bedding, cool room temperature – you might think you have everything you need for a sleep-supportive bedroom. Yet, the wrong lighting can cause far more problems than you might realize. The body’s circadian rhythms control your sleep-wake cycle and they rely on the light of the day/night cycle to help correctly time the release of sleep hormones. However, the advancement of technology has led to artificial light that can alter your sleep-wake cycle just as much as natural light. Your interior design can either help or support your ability to get a full night’s rest.

How to Manage Light for Better Sleep

  1. Use Effective Window Coverings

Natural light makes the room feel bright and inviting so you certainly don’t want to block it out altogether. However, at night, any light – moonlight, street lamps, car headlights – coming in your windows can interfere with your ability to sleep.

Window coverings can help you control how much natural light enters your bedroom. Blackout curtains, heavy drapes, and blinds are good ways to keep light out at night. If you like to welcome the morning sun, a second layer of sheer curtains can disperse morning light so your bedroom doesn’t feel dark and cave-like.

  1. Bed Placement

Bed placement makes a big difference in how much light you get directly on your face. You can successfully place your bed underneath or across from the windows and still manage the light properly so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

Skylights, however, can pose a bit of a problem.

Skylights that put light directly on the bed can cause premature waking or difficulty falling asleep. Not to mention the fact that a full moon can disrupt your sleep too. If your bedroom has skylights, try to avoid placing your bed directly beneath them.

If you need more overall light, consider sconces on either side of the bed or a table lamp on the nightstand. Both options give you more control over your light exposure than a skylight.

  1. Replace High-Efficiency Light Bulbs

High-efficiency (HE) light bulbs may be cost effective but they emit a bright blue light that’s similar to sunlight. Therefore, it stimulates the brain in the same way, which suppresses sleep hormones. A few manufacturers have started producing HE bulbs that don’t emit blue light but they’re limited in availability.

With the advance of technology, you have a few more options than you once did. The easiest option is to replace HE bulbs with LED or incandescent bulbs, which can emit light in the red spectrum. You can also consider replacing some of your HE bulbs with smart bulbs. Some smart bulbs give you several color options plus they can be connected to a smartphone via hub and controlled from the palm of your hand. That means you can turn the lights out without having to get out of bed.

  1. Remove or Cover Electronics

HE bulbs aren’t the only possible source of blue light in the bedroom. Scrolling through your social media feed or binge-watching your favorite streaming service before bed can suppress sleep hormones like HE bulbs too. You can do one of two things. 1) Turn off your devices two to three hours before bed, or 2) buy devices with a low light or low blue light setting so you can use them close to bedtime without disrupting your sleep.

Power indicator lights or notifications from a phone pinging in your ear can be disruptive as well. Cover power indicator lights and consider charging your phone in another room. When you move distractions out of the bedroom, it can truly become your sleep sanctuary.

For help on this or any other interior design needs, contact The Blind Guys & Designing Women design team at 949.371.9075.

Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.