Throughout our site we promote the best mattresses and we review mattresses based on comfort and support, but a mattress is just one part of a solid sleep hygiene program. In fact, the color of your walls and ceiling, furniture, carpet, and artwork has a profound effect on sleep induction and calming the mind as you prepare for bed.
The colors in our living environments can be different from room to room, depending upon the mood of the room, and the activities that take place there. So, how do colors affect how we sleep?
There are many ways in which a bedroom color can influence the quality of your sleep. The effect is so profound, that there are even the best and the worst bedroom colors for sleep. And, since this is not common knowledge even among people who are sleep experts, we’ll take a closer look.
Why Colors Make A Difference
Besides personal preference, why is it necessary to paint your bedroom a specific color? What is it that makes a bedroom painted gray any less effective at promoting sleep than one painted mustard or wheatgrass? After all, we don’t really soak in our walls as we are preparing for sleep, so why would color have any effect on it.
In fact, the day you pick out your paint color for a bedroom, the minute you look at paint chip samples, your brain is already establishing cues that will associate that color with calm and relaxation vs. stimulation and energizing effects.
Extensive studies have shown that the color of our bedroom actually does have a significant impact on our sleep.
The Psychology Of Color
Perception experts have clearly shown that colors influence our emotions, wherever we go. This means that the color of the vehicle you own, the color of your clothes and even the color of your hair will influence both you and the people around you. These color cues also influence the behavior of people around.
We all respond quite differently to a red car than a gray one, and likely this is the result of millions of years of hard wired information that humans have processed, attributing values and meanings to every color palette. Virtually all of this visual processing subconscious, something we are not able to describe verbally, but is just as powerful as our sense of smell or taste.
This is the reason why great care should be taken to choose just the right colors for our bedrooms, our adjacent bathrooms, even our walk-in closets and hallways approaching our bedrooms. Remember, your bedroom is your sanctuary and nest, a place that you escape to , that you need to feel safe and comfortable within.
Color Signals In Everyday Life
Have you ever wondered why red means stop and green means go? Couldn’t we have chosen another pair of colors to represent these simple instructions? Red and green, in fact, have long been associated with similar meanings to “stop” and “proceed”, but in more subtle fashion.
Green is typically associated with nature and spring, with moving forward, the motion of the seasons in full swing. Therefore, it inspires us to proceed. It urges us to move forward in a calm, easy way. Red, however, is attributed to blood, and even pain. We easily associate red with death and aggressiveness, and we stop, dead in our tracks, when we are confronted with red.
Extreme examples, but the green and red examples clearly illustrate the point. These are just some of the ways in which we experience colors, and might give you some inside into the raw power that color can have on our minds. If you neglect choosing the right color scheme for your sleep environment, you will have a hard time controlling your emotions before going to sleep.
What Are The Best And Worst Colors For Sleep?
Interestingly there are several palettes that promote sleep and further, wellness and contentment. There is no one best color for sleep, but generally, a few colors will relate to most individuals as causing calmness, relaxation, and mood changes that promote sleep.
In order to make your bedroom calm and relaxing, you need to consider the entire space. You need to carefully think both the style and color of the furnishings, the ambient temperature, the quality of air, the movement of air, and about control ambient noises that either promote or deter sleep induction.
Best Colors For Sleep
The best colors for sleep, according to research, tend to be on the deeper, colder spectrum. These are usually medium to dark blue, or shades of darker green, reminiscent of a Forest or trees and nature.
We associate colors such as these with nature, calmness, and sluggishness or heaviness, which are all beneficial to a good night’s sleep. These colors are also the palette of dusk and a call to the cave, where the fire is lit, and warm.
Cooler hues such as colors like lighter tones of gray, and even violet and purple have been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety and will help create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom.
Colors like tan, mint green, anything earthy and softer in tone are ideal, as well.
Find a green that offers a grey under tone, and stay away from brighter, Easter egg pastels that are too bright. The perfect soft neutral green will have you feeling grounded and elegant and will help create a relaxing atmosphere for your bedroom. Medium to dark woods will pair wonderfully also.
It’s critical that a sense of calmness and tranquility falls upon you before you lay down and close your eyes. And, one of the best visual representations of calmness and tranquility are big forests, open sky and dusk, and wide rivers.
Stay away from any bright, bold colors because they promote energy and will make it harder to relax and sleep well. Avoid energizing colors like red or bright yellow that can actually increase your heart rate and respiration.
Also, keep the pattern and use of multiple colors and coordinating tones to a minimum. It’s best to use a single shade of color. Multiple shades of color stimulate the mind, but simpler elements keep the mind from having to decipher and process different patterns and elements, which defeats sleep induction and relaxation.
Avoid using any altering patterns such as stripes, illustrations, artistic treatments, or any imaging that promotes visual stimulation and defeats the process of getting the restorative rest you need.
The worst colors you can pick for your bedroom are warm, aggressive colors, or any color that is glossy, shiny, or mirror like. Use a flat paint instead of an eggshell or glossy finish. Glossy finishes reflect light, while flatter paints absorb more color and feel softer.
Colors like orange, yellow and red are all aggressive and create a sense of alertness, of alarm.
Even worse, combining these color tones with black, as many venomous animals are brightly colored and interwoven with black stripes or patterns. If you paint your bedroom in orange and black, you will effectively surround yourself with poisonous animals. And, as you might guess, we are hardwired through millennia of effective techniques for avoiding these hazards- largely through fight or flight response.
Whatever color you choose, use the lighter, pastel, or muted shades of the color. Easy going earthy or skin tones are calming, and promote positive energy flow as many feng shui experts will tell you.
A color that is too bright or bold will create stimulation and alarm, creating a sense of alertness instead a sense of relaxation. Save those statement colors for your living room and entrance way, and keep your bedroom peaceful and serene.
Also take care what colors you choose for your bedroom accents. They should complement each other and be parallel to each other on a color wheel, rather than contrasting. Contrasting colors stimulate your eyes and mind.
Avoid White Walls
Pure white rooms can feel cold and grim. Just by adding a hint of gray to the walls, your room will still feel bright and inviting, as well as calm and relaxing. With the lighter color walls, adding some darker elements into the room such as furnishings or throws, will give the space a more comfortable feeling. Large toss pillows, art work, accents with darker gray or blue colors will pair better with the lighter color walls and make the room feel more cozy, inviting, and personal.
Top Designers Best Choices For Bedroom Paint
Some of the world’s top designers are experts in color selection and building palettes for bedrooms and calming spaces, not just for bedrooms, but for hospitals, nursing homes, corporate spaces, and any environments where a sense of relaxation and calm is required.
Here are 15 top choices for paint colors, listed by color name and manufacturer.
“Skylight”, by Farrow and Ball “I love this color for a bedroom, it can look fresh and clean with whites and grays or green accents. I also tend to pair it with rich chocolate brown accents when I am going for a moody look.” —Liz Caan, Liz Caan & Co.
“Nosegay”, by Benjamin Moore “One of my favorite bedroom paint colors is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Nosegay.’ The color sets a soft and dreamy tone in a bedroom. It feels happy yet calm, which is ideal for a space where clients are looking for comfort and come to wind down.” —Gideon Mendelson, Mendelson Group
“Salon Drab”, by Farrow and Ball “It’s very warm and sophisticated. I would describe it as a moody color that has a very calming effect. It works extremely well with gold picture frames and brass hardware. A good color to pair it with is ‘Light Gray’ by Farrow & Ball on all millwork.” —Alexander Doherty, Alexander Doherty Design
“Blueberry”, by Benjamin Moore “One of our favorite colors to paint bedrooms, especially kids rooms, is Blueberry by Benjamin Moore. Often times, we like to paint bedrooms dark colors and add light furniture to deceive the eye into thinking the room is both bigger and contains more natural light.”—Caroline Grant, Dekar Design
“White Heron” by Benjamin Moore “I love this color. It’s a dreamy marshmallow white that is crisp and fresh but with subtle warm undertones. We’ve used this color in country and city homes. The trick is to carry it through-out the spaces as the primary backdrop allowing for the art, textures and furnishings to pop.” —Kevin Dumais, Dumais
“Amazing Gray” by Sherman Williams “This is that perfect warm gray that changes with the light. It’s soothing and restful but far from boring.”—Kelly Allen, MA Allen Interiors
“Skylight” by Farrow and Ball “This very pale blue gray looks gorgeous with white linen curtains to create a soothing, zen bedroom oasis.”—Anne Hepfer
“Elephant’s Breath” by Farrow and Ball “I love using this shade because it has has a touch of dusky pink in the gray base, a very flattering but subtle color for bedrooms.”—Katharine Pooley
“Setting Plaster” by Farrow and Ball “Setting Plaster is millennial pink-adjacent, and as such, is very on trend at the moment. But beyond that, the hue is calming and serene, which is everything that I look for in a bedroom. When it comes to where you’re going to sleep at night, I always advise going with less contrast and more tonality.” —Justin DiPiero, WeWork