If we expect kids to sleep independently through the night, they should feel comfortable and confident in their beds. Make sure your child’s mattress is supportive, pillow is the right size (ask your child to lay down and test pillows to choose the right one), and sheets and blankets are cozy.
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Video production in partnership with “Not only do you spend a third of your life in your bedroom by sleeping seven to nine hours a night, but it’s also important because it’s where you begin and end each day,” says Charlotte, North Carolina-based interior designer Deanna Radaj, who specializes in bedroom design and teaches a workshop that’s specifically about creating the bedroom of your dreams. She uses a philosophy called “eco-shui,” which incorporates Western ideals (such as sustainable design) along with Eastern ideals (Feng Shui) to create healthy and balanced living environments. Read on for Radaj’s tips on creating your own bedroom bliss.
Positioning your bed in a corner adjacent to the doorway is a no-no for feng shui, says Radaj. “It’s a little morbid, but bodies are carried out of the room feet first,” she explains. Instead, opt for the “power position,” which is in a corner diagonal from the door (as far away from the door as possible)—the headboard can be either catty corner or against one of the walls. “You’re still in a position of security, but you can see anybody entering the room,” says Radaj.
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Blackout curtains are best, but if you’ve already bought drapery, try blackout curtain liners to attach to your normal panels, darkening blinds, blackout fabric, or in a pinch, painters tape and dark garbage bags will do the trick. When you’re traveling, you can buy darkening shades with suction cups that attach to any window.
Background noise helps ensure one little person doesn’t wake the other if they’re sharing a room, or (especially in our small house) a person in the kitchen doesn’t disturb one in the bedroom. We use a fan on low, but have used sound machines too.
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It’s easy to ignore your bedroom when it comes to decorating. But how you design the space—including the paint colors and curtains that you choose, and even what you put on your walls—can affect how well you sleep.
A blankie, lovey, or stuffed animal really helps your child transition from being with mom or dad, to kissing goodnight and feeling positive about drifting off to sleep all by herself.
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My littlest is an early riser—as a baby she loved 5:00 a.m. It took consistency and time to shift her waking to 6:00 a.m., and a completely dark room was key. There are lots of reasons for darkening the bedroom: streetlights flood the room after dark, especially in urban areas; longer summer days mean there’s still light at a 7:30 p.m. bedtime; and nappers can sleep better in a super dark room.
Bright lights before bed trick the internal clock and make it harder for kids to fall asleep. At least an hour before bed, turn off or dim overhead lights in the living room and bedroom. Keep a lamp or two on in the living room. Have a small reading light to read to your little one, or for your school age kid to read to himself.
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Even the glow from an alarm clock can be enough to disrupt sleep, especially for light sleepers. And the last thing that you need when you’re tossing and turning is to see the minutes tick by, so turn the clock around or dim it. While you’re at it, Radaj recommends positioning your alarm clock (and any other electronics in your bedroom) at least three feet away from your head while you sleep to avoid EMF, or electromagnetic frequencies, that can act as a stimulant to your nervous system.
For an adult, having stacks of papers and piles of clothes in the bedroom can make it harder to relax; a child’s bedroom strewn with Legos, doll clothes, or homework feels the same. Sleeping spaces are for sleeping—if they make us think too much of activities and obligations, the calming association is weakened. Keep only the toys your children really play with, and have good storage bins to put them away for nap and bedtime.
Natural fiber cotton sheets without extra anti-wrinkle coatings are best when it comes to promoting air flow and breathability so you don’t wake up drenched in sweat during the night. Need to lighten up for summer but don’t want to change your bedroom’s whole look? Take the comforter out of your duvet and store it away until the weather cools.
A low or moderate volume is best, because little ears and developing brains are sensitive—we don’t want to overwhelm them with a loud, static noise, just a low, natural, and soothing one.
My two kids (3 and 6 years old) climb happily into bed at night. It’s not to say that bedtime is always smooth—they don’t want to stop building towers or running laps in Superhero costumes. But as their routine unfolds and they shift modes, they don’t fight sleep. They welcome it.
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Eight ways to turn your bedroom into the sleep sanctuary it was always meant to be.
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According to the rules of feng shui, mirrors are activators which bring light and activity into a space. That makes them great for hallways or dead corners—not so great for the place you sleep. “I suggest clients put mirrors on the inside of a closet door so they can close it,” says Radaj.
There are lots of reasons for this (more sleep secrets to come), but one is that the bedroom is conducive to sleep. Having an optimal sleep environment for your kids won’t solve tricky sleep issues in and of itself, but it absolutely will stack the deck in your favor. Here are 5 important elements that set the stage for good sleep:
“Warm colors actually affect you physically by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature,” says Radaj. “I use warm colors in busy spaces, such as the family room, to promote activity, and cool colors for restful spots, like the bedroom.” Grays, blues, and even browns can be great choices, and you can always ask someone at a paint store to help you pick out the right tone. Love yellow or red? Keep it as an accent color, on a pillow, for instance, or in a piece of art.
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“I cringe whenever I see commercials for synthetic air fresheners,” says Radaj. “Anybody with perfume allergies or sensitivities is going to be triggered immediately.” Instead, she recommends putting a few drops of lavender or Neroli (bitter orange) oil into a diffuser for a naturally calming, sleep-inducing scent.
If you’re feeding a baby in the night, for potty trips, or if your kids like having a nightlight, use one with a red bulb. This dim, warm light is less activating to the brain. Do a survey of the lights in your child’s room at night—are there any electronics with tiny lights on them? The lights on sound machines, wipe warmers, mobiles, or any other electronics can be very bright once eyes have adjusted to darkness.
Conventional paints off-gas (meaning you breathe in chemicals while you sleep) for up to 18 months, says Radaj. Luckily all major paint manufacturers now offer healthier options for a few extra dollars, and the only trade-off is a slightly longer drying time, according to Radaj.