Can't sleep? Blame your bedroom.
A new poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 25 percent of Americans reported rarely or never getting a good night's sleep during the workweek -- and the bedroom plays a key role.
Tom Clifford, director of development for the foundation, suggests paying attention to the colors you choose, the art you hang and the way you arrange everything in the room so that it all helps lead you to sleep.
"We recommend choosing wall colors that elicit warmth and calm," Clifford says. "Individuals know their color-feeling connections better than anyone. So we recommend picking colors, artwork, blankets and so forth that you find soothing."
Still, sometimes an expert can help. Perhaps that's why interior designers say their clients are turning to them more and more to redo bedrooms.
"We've become lifestyle doctors that are contributing to health rather than just the aesthetic appeal of the room," says Campion Platt, interior designer with Campion Platt Interiors Inc. which has an office in Water Mill.
Here's what he and another designer have recently done to make bedrooms more sleep-inducing.
Various earth tones were used in this Merrick bedroom. "Pick materials that will encourage a restful environment," says the designer, Marlaina Teich, whose firm is based in Bellmore. The wallpaper is an overscale metallic floral -- which may sound jarring but isn't. Here, the pattern of the wallpaper is similar in tone to the background of the wallpaper, which creates a soothing atmosphere, especially against the mother-of-pearl fireplace.
Finding the right design balance is important in creating an appealing sleeping environment, Teich says. She married rustic ceiling beams, heavy wood shutters and the leather bed, which are traditionally masculine features, with the mirrored bedside chests, metallic floral wallpaper and mother-of-pearl fireplace wall treatment, which are more feminine. "When the moonlight glints off the combined finishes, the room glows," she says.
Pick fabrics and finishes in the room's colors, but vary intensity and patterns, Teich says. "Pick neutral bed linens, bring in a little wood, a little stone, a little mirror to make it interesting."
When Campion Platt designed a bedroom for the recent Holiday House in Manhattan, he did it with his mantra in mind: awaken, refresh, relax and dream.
The biggest factor in creating the soothing, relaxing space for the show house was to work with muted tones to lighten the visual load so tired eyes wouldn't dance around the room, he says. He created a separate seating area -- a space that could be done with a vanity, sofa or bench. "Part of it is built out of function, and part of it is built out of the idea to have more living spaces in your room," Platt says.
The seating area is for relaxing and watching TV before going to sleep -- reserving the bed for shut-eye.
You've finally introduced kale to your diet, you're avoiding the dirty dozen foods with the highest pesticide residues, and you've installed a whole-house water filter to make sure no toxins touch your skin as you shower. But have you considered sleeping on an organic, or at least nontoxic, bed?
You might be unpleasantly surprised to find out that mattresses are often made of synthetic materials that can harbor potential toxic chemicals. This includes petroleum-based pesticides, herbicides and flame-retardants, says Bobbi Chase Wilding, deputy director of Clean and Healthy New York, an advocacy group based in Albany. Widely used polyurethane foam is known to outgas volatile organic compounds. Formaldehyde has been linked to cancer. Flame-retardant chemicals spark nervous-system disorders. One memory-foam mattress tested emitted 61 chemicals, including several known carcinogens.
If you want to limit the toxins absorbed while you sleep, Wilding says, there are many eco mattresses on the market featuring differing gradations of purity at a range of prices.
The primary ingredient in nontoxic mattresses is latex, which is sourced from rubber trees and processed in two ways: Dunlop (which results in a firmer bottom) and Talalay (which has a more consistent structure throughout). Anthony Page, owner of Sleepworks in Massapequa Park, whose stock includes a selection of natural and organic mattresses, says Talalay latex is "30 percent more pressure-relieving than any other surface you can buy at any price, even a mattress that sells at Bloomingdale's for $37,000." At Sleepworks, a Talalay mattress starts at $899.
For a customer on a budget, he says there are many options (for queen size) at the $2,000 level and even some at $1,000 to $1,500, including a natural memory foam mattress, which is castor oil-based and wrapped in Tencel sourced from tree bark.
Latex mattresses are wrapped in natural fibers, often wool, which is naturally dust-mite resistant (from its lanolin) and flame retardant.
Bliss Sleep Center opened this year in Water Mill solely to sell nontoxic beds. Owner Beth Lee Schlendorf "filtered through" the many natural products on the market, selecting only a handful that she finally chose to represent -- from Royal Pedic, whose mattresses sells for $3,000 and up, to the less expensive White Lotus (whose factory she visited in New Jersey), which sells an organic cotton mattress and pillows made from buckwheat and a naturally hypoallergenic seed that starts at about $1,200. She warns against anything but organic cotton, saying: "Thirty percent of the world's pesticides are used in cotton."
Many natural mattresses are a throwback to earlier times. Hastens, a brand of upscale Scandinavian mattresses slept on by the Swedish royal family, makes its products from horsehair, flax and pine. But they don't come cheap, with prices that range from $4,000 to $23,000.