How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep: advice from the experts

Our blog this month focuses on bedrooms, with advice from specialist members of The House Directory regarding your daily routine, your bedroom environment, the optimum bed and mattress to get a good night’s sleep.

“A good night’s sleep is the best investment you can make in your physical and mental wellbeing. High-quality rest boosts productivity and concentration, regulates emotions and improves immune function. Recent research has found that good sleep is one of the best steps you can take to help to achieve healthy skin – supporting the repair of any damage, reduction in fine lines, and countering the effects of ageing.”

Hypnos’ resident sleep expert, Natalie Pennicotte-Collier has compiled some top tips to enable you to enjoy the perfect night’s rest.

Hypnos Orthos Support 6 with a platform top divan and a Josephine headboard, in Hypnos Brooklyn Ink
Image: Hypnos Orthos Support 6 with a platform top divan and a Josephine headboard, in Hypnos Brooklyn Ink

More tips from Natalie:

Create the perfect sleeping environment

  • Keep your bedroom at the right temperature. Your room should be around 18°C. If you find you’re waking up cold in the night then consider investing in a warmer duvet for the colder months – 15 tog will help to keep you cosy. Alternatively, an electric blanket or hot water bottle can help to keep you warm.
  • Make your bedroom a truly relaxing space. Consider blackout curtains or an eye mask and start to dim the lights two to three hours before bedtime. This sends a signal to your brain to produce melatonin, which encourages sleep.
  • Choose mattresses made using natural and sustainable materials that are recyclable. Natural materials are breathable and help to regulate body temperature so you’re not too hot or too cold – something which can affect the quality of your sleep.
Hypnos Origins Organic No 3 king size mattress with Marie headboard and pocket sprung divan set, upholstered in Earth Willow
Image: Hypnos Origins Organic No 3 king size mattress with Marie headboard and pocket sprung divan set, upholstered in Earth Willow

Adopt better daytime habits

  • Get outside in the fresh air. Natural daylight helps to set your circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock, so your body knows when it’s time to sleep come night-time. The act of getting outdoors early in the day boosts your mood and sets you up for the day ahead.
  • Exercise increases your heart rate, so try to avoid vigorous exercise for a few hours before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine and fizzy drinks after midday.
  • A lighter meal in the evening helps to promote deeper and more beneficial sleep. If you can, try to have your evening meal at least three hours before you go to bed. Avoid alcohol and sugary foods – instead, go for items such as warm milk and bananas. Both of these contain an amino-acid which helps our bodies produce serotonin. In turn, this aids the production of melatonin in the body, the hormone which promotes better quality sleep.
Hypnos Luxury No Turn 9 with a shallow firm edge pocket sprung divan and a Grace shallow headboard, in Hypnos Brooklyn Lilac
Image: Hypnos Luxury No Turn 9 with a shallow firm edge pocket sprung divan and a Grace shallow headboard, in Hypnos Brooklyn Lilac

Establish a bedtime routine

  • Mental and emotional stimulation often keeps us awake, and the bright light from tablets, smartphones, TV and other technology disturbs our ability to drift off to sleep.
  • Take a relaxing bath or read a book a couple of hours before bedtime.
  • Go to bed at a regular time so your body gets into the habit of knowing when to sleep. Start to wind down 90 minutes before bed and make sure you avoid napping during the day as this can impact your quality of sleep at night.
  • If you find you can’t sleep after 15 to 20 minutes in bed, get up and do something else until you feel tired, but avoid using light wherever possible as this will stimulate your brain, causing you to become more alert. Listening to relaxing music or sounds, such as those you can find on Hypnos’ sleep relaxation soundtrack, can help to relax your mind and body and send you off to sleep.
Image: Hypnos Origins Organic No 3 king size mattress with Marie headboard and pocket sprung divan set, upholstered in Earth Willow

Garry Smith, managing director of The Cornish Bed Company:

Many tips for good sleep hygiene are well-known such as room temperature, bedtime routine and blackout blinds, but it is just as important to make sure the bed provides the best night’s sleep.

 A comfortable mattress

Cheap mattresses may be fine for a while, but they don’t last. Misshaped mattresses, feeling springs through the wadding, and uneven wear all lead to discomfort, bad sleeping posture and a constant feeling of tiredness throughout the day.

Cornish Bed King Agnes Bed in Bronze with Headboard cushion in Boucle fabric
Image: The Cornish Bed Company – King Agnes Bed in Bronze with Headboard cushion in Boucle fabric

The right size

Surprisingly, many people are in the wrong-sized bed, squashed up against a partner, or forced into an uncomfortable position. A bed that is neither wide nor long enough will cause bad bed posture and restlessness during the night. Ideally, the bed should be 10cm longer in length than the tallest person who sleeps on it. We offer a wide range of bed sizes, and each frame can be made bespoke.

A quiet bed

A bed that squeaks every time you or your partner turns can disturb deep sleep. Whereas cheap fixings deteriorate over time and cause the bed to squeak every time you move, Cornish Bed’s signature cast knuckle joint guarantees longevity, and only grows stronger with age.

Cornish Bed Eden Bed in Racing Green and Headboard in fabric by GP & J Baker
Image: The Cornish Bed Company – Eden Bed in Racing Green and Headboard in fabric by GP & J Baker

Use of breathable materials

A mattress needs to be able to breathe. Unbreathable materials such as memory foam or acrylic covers increase body heat and cause night sweats that keep a person awake at night. Excessive sweating is not only unpleasant, but it can also encourage mould, so choose a natural mattress filled with breathable materials such as coir, lambswool, cotton and latex.

The right firmness

Choosing the level of firmness in a mattress is a personal choice. If partners have different preferences, choose a half-and-half style mattress which zips securely together.

Novia Whelan-Dunk, co-founder of Chalk Pink Linen:

There are many different factors that help aid a restful sleep and to ensure you enjoy a full eight hours of relaxing peace we recommend the following –

  • Aim to create a peaceful sleep sanctuary in your bedroom, with calming hues of colour on the walls, window dressings and bedding.
Chalk Pink Natural Ticking Duvet Cover Set with Stone Blue Pillowcases
Image: Chalk Pink Linen Company – Natural Ticking Duvet Cover Set with Stone Blue Pillowcases
  • Always choose natural fabrics for your choice of bedding; they will help to regulate your body temperature during sleep and have the added benefit of hypo-allergenic properties.
  • If you’re a light-sensitive sleeper it can be a good investment to include black-out blinds or curtains and spoil yourself with a pure silk eye mask during the summer months to help prevent waking from an early sunrise.
Chalk Pink Dusty Pink Linen Throw with Natural Flax Duvet Cover
Image: Chalk Pink Linen Company – Dusty Pink Linen Throw with Natural Flax Duvet Cover
  • Try to refrain from using any technology for at least an hour before you retire to bed, this will help you wind down slowly and clear your mind in preparation to drift into a deep sleep.
  • Reducing the temperature of your bedroom can help your body to relax naturally during the summer months. Keep blinds and curtains drawn to protect against the midday sun and ventilate the room before bedtime.
Chalk Pink Natural Flax and French Blue Throw
Image: Chalk Pink Linen Company – Natural Flax and French Blue Throw

Edward Bulmer, Edward Bulmer Natural Paint:

Go green!

You can design a bedroom that is not only good for the planet but for you too. A good way to begin is to purchase a non-toxic, breathable natural paint which contains no harmful VOCs. Make sure you check the ingredients on the tin and ensure they do not contain acrylics or toxic chemicals that could cause health issues and breathing problems, which in turn affect a good night’s sleep. Our paints are made with our ground-breaking plant-based binder and natural earth and mineral pigments and so you can sleep in a room the same day as it is decorated. Try ‘Bleu Turc’ for a calm, relaxing bedroom, a warm blue with yellow ochre, black, white and blue earth pigments or alternatively, our new ‘Pippin’ a versatile apple green.

Edward Bulmer Natural Paint Pippin (image @lorfordsantiqs)
Image: Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, Pippin. Credit: Lorfords Antiques

Lighting is key 

Once you’ve narrowed your choice of natural paint colours down, check how the colour appears from day to evening. We spend the evening in our bedroom once the sun has gone down and rises in the morning light, so you need to love the colour in both natural and artificial light. A muted palette brings light and the illusion of space to a smaller room; try our dusty pink ‘Cuisse de Nymphe Emue’ to get the warmth from pink tones or turn to nature and the great outdoors with ‘Eau de Nile’. Opting for rich tones – like a deep blue/green such as ‘Ethereal Blue’ can create a sense of cosiness, a tonic for a restful sleep.

Edward Bulmer Natural Paint Ethereal Blue (image @theheadboardworkshop).
Image: Edward Bulmer Natural Paint Ethereal Blue (image @theheadboardworkshop)

Adam Black, co-owner of Button & Sprung – tips for a good night’s sleep:

Find the right fit

The most important factor in achieving a good night’s sleep is a supportive mattress. A mattress, like a piece of clothing, should fit your unique shape and weight. It should contour to the curves of your body, supporting your pressure points (shoulder and hips). Ideally, you want to be held in a ’neutral’ position when asleep – meaning that your spine is held in a horizontal position throughout the night.

Mattresses from Button & Sprung’s natural mattress collection, featuring the Borderdale, Southdown and Wensleydale, with pocket springs and cotton, wool, mohair, cashmere and silk fillings
Image: Mattresses from Button & Sprung’s natural mattress collection, featuring the Borderdale, Southdown and Wensleydale, with pocket springs and cotton, wool, mohair, cashmere and silk fillings

Natural bedding

Always go for bed sheets and duvet covers that are made from natural fibres, rather than man-made synthetics or poly-cotton. Crisp cotton and soft linen are naturally breathable materials, that will let air pass through helping to prevent you from overheating during the night. We would advise opting for duck or goose down duvets and pillows along with a natural mattress protector.

Button & Sprung’s Camelia King size bed frame in Atol Plush Velvet with beech traditional turned legs
Image: Button & Sprung’s Camelia King size bed frame in Atol Plush Velvet with beech traditional turned legs

Stop the scroll!

It’s proven that using electronic devices such as smartphones before bed can disrupt both the quality and duration of your sleep. The bright blue light emitted by the screen and never-ending notifications on social media can work to overstimulate the brain making it harder to fall asleep. Engaging with the devices can also delay the time we fall asleep. Try to limit the use of technology before bed. Even better – ban smartphones from the bedroom – and invest in a traditional alarm clock!

Joanna Ross, General Manager of Design at luxury bedding brand Sheridan:

The role of colour

Blue is one of the most popular colours for bedrooms. It can have a positive effect on mood as it connects us to a blue sky or ocean found in nature, which helps us to feel relaxed. Whether you add a dark blue feature wall or incorporate a blue textured quilt cover like Sheridan’s Tamber Quilt Cover in Smokey Blue the colour blue is known to help calm the mind and produce a feeling of tranquillity – and who isn’t looking for some of this before going to sleep at night.

Sheridan - Tamber Quilt Cover Set in smokey blue
Image: Sheridan – Tamber Quilt Cover Set in smokey blue

Silk

If you’re a hot sleeper and wake up in the night overheating, then silk is the perfect solution for you. This fabric is the superior alternative when it comes to bedding, not only is it good for your hair and skin, it’s naturally hypoallergenic and thermoregulating, so you can say goodbye to the very warm and restless nights.

Sheridan - Lanham Silk Pillowcase, available in six colour options
Image: Sheridan – Lanham Silk Pillowcase, available in six colour options

Toby Walzer of RESTED, specialists in luxury beds and mattresses that optimise sleep:

There’s no one-size-fits-all

Optimised sleep is highly individual: male and female body shape, height, weight, comfort preference, and sleep position – all have an effect on sleep. RESTED have a private mattress testing centre and specialise in beds incorporating the latest technology, offering a tailored approach to finding the right bed for you.

Bed hygiene

We release approximately 300ml of moisture every night. It is critical to have a mattress and bed base that is ventilated and allows for the circulation of air – a key to good bed hygiene. The circulation of air also allows your body to thermoregulate during sleep. A mattress cover that is easily removable for washing is essential. As a mattress lasts 10-15 years it is important to be able to clean it regularly. Traditional mattresses that are tufted or hand-stitched cannot have removable covers due to the way in which they are constructed.

Bed sheets

Thread count is a measure of how many cross stitches are woven per sq. inch. The higher the thread count, the more tightly woven the bed linen. We encourage people looking for sleep performance to steer clear of high thread count sheets and instead go for knitted, long stable cotton jersey sheets made with tiny loops. These sheets can be stretched, providing a mattress-hugging fit and enhanced ventilation.

Image: Auping Essential Bed in Dusty Red
Image: Rested – Auping Essential Bed in Dusty Red

Duvets

Down and feather are insulators; we prefer thermoregulating materials including merino, silk or camel, which adapt to your body temperature. However, these natural materials are more difficult to clean and new man-made fibres, including OUTLAST, a fabric developed in association with NASA, adapts to fluctuations in night-time temperature and release heat from the surface. Our range includes high-performance duvets made from OUTLAST, Tensel and other amazing materials.

Mattresses

A mattress should be not too soft nor too firm, providing even support and generating a neutral (straight) spine alignment for the health of your back and posture. The spine can then truly relax and promote recovery, the function of sleep. We make individualised mattresses that are tensioned to your specific body weight and adapt to your body shape, supporting your hips, waist and shoulders for perfect alignment.

Adjustable Beds

Adjustable beds are not only for those with medical conditions. Being able to adjust your back position or elevate your legs can massively increase comfort, optimise support and help you to find the perfect position for relaxation and restorative sleep. If you are looking for beds that facilitate recovery from weight training, cardio, or an active lifestyle or simply wish to enhance comfort in your bedroom an adjustable bed may be the ideal choice.

Auping Smartbase
Image: Rested – Auping Smartbase

In summary, here are The House Directory’s 12 top tips for a better night’s sleep:

1) We spend around 30,000 hours in a bed during its 10 year lifespan, so it is imperative to buy the right one for a good night’s rest. Always try before you buy; lie on the bed and slide your hand under the small of your back. It should fit snugly.

2) A single bed should be at least 91.5cm wide and a double at least 135cm wide. Make sure that the bed you buy is at least 10cm to 15cm longer than you are.

3) When buying a double bed you should consider zip-and-link beds where single mattresses of different tensions can be fastened together. They are ideal for couples who vary in weight by at least 30kg. In most cases, for a child or if you are slight you will need a softer bed and a firmer bed if you are heavier.

4) Never place a new mattress on an old sprung base as this may have changed shape over time and will not support the new mattress evenly.

5) Traditionally, mattresses are made with interior springs of which there are two main types:

-pocket springs, where each spring is wrapped in fabric enabling it to function independently thus giving more support (more expensive).

-open coil, with rows of interconnected springs joined by helical wire (less expensive).

As a rough guide, the more springs, the better support.

The Dormy House offer a wide range of beds, bedlinen and bedroom furniture, including headboards, storage divans, mattresses, pillow protectors, eiderdowns and bed valances.
Image: The Dormy House offer a wide range of beds, bedlinen and bedroom furniture, including headboards, storage divans, mattresses, pillow protectors, eiderdowns and bed valances.

6) Some of the finest mattresses have natural fillings which may include horse-tail hair and wool fleece which assist the body’s natural temperature regulation.

7) A mattress topper provides an additional layer of comfort.

8) Mattresses should be rotated 1-2 times a year.

9) Pioneering advances in technology have led to the development of new types of mattresses and bedlinen to optimise sleep. Consider whether a traditional mattress or the new technology is best for you.

10) Protect your mattress and pillows with washable covers. Apart from being hygienic, they also protect against allergies. Wash your bed linen at least once a week.

11) Throw back your bedcovers for 20 minutes every morning to allow body moisture to evaporate.

12) When planning your ideal bedroom design, choose a calming colour scheme to create a restful interior and bed linen that enhances comfort.

Turnpost Allterton Bed. Turnpost specialise in made to order, solid wooden four poster beds handcrafted in Yorkshire. Working closely with designers, they can also offer a fully tailored bespoke service.
Image: Turnpost Allterton Bed. Turnpost specialise in made-to-order, solid wooden four-poster beds handcrafted in Yorkshire. Working closely with designers, they can also offer a fully tailored bespoke service.

Also, to improve overall health and sleep quality make sure to get outdoors every day for exposure to natural light, fresh air and exercise; avoid a heavy meal in the evening; limit blue light exposure and screen time before bedtime; use blackout curtains or blinds in your bedroom, or wear a sleep mask at night to block out light; and try relaxation breathing techniques. We hope this blog will help you on your way to getting a good night’s sleep!


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