Sophie Donelson Relax and recharge
If your journey to healthful living has you running from supermarket to fitness studio to nutritionist and back again, here’s an invitation to stay home. The most powerful decisions about well-being are made in your head — and around your house. House Beautiful’s four-part Whole Home Project is a primer on how your house can enhance the whole you: your energy, your peace, your happiness.
Before we unveil the Whole Home Concept House next month, we explore how vital rest is to being your best self, and the restorative nature of a really good soak. Read on for try-today ways to start living better now.
There’s a reason parents are unrelenting about their children’s bedtime. Without proper sleep, little ones compromise their health — and get cranky. We adults are no different. We’d all do well to commit to a wind-down bath, not another episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” And to a consistent lights-out time versus an in-bed Instagram session. But revamping our rest-and-recharge habits shouldn’t feel punitive. It can be enjoyable, and even a tad indulgent.
Here’s permission to invest in dreamy sheets if they inspire you to turn in an hour early. (Then you’ll really get your money’s worth.)
Q: I’ve heard that blue light interrupts sleep. Are there any products that can minimize my exposure to this?
We’ve all heard it: The blue light in LED screens (i.e., Smartphones and tablets) and even lightbulbs is disrupting our sleep, blocking the production of melatonin — the hormone that regulates sleep — and tricking our brain into thinking it’s still daytime. “The less you dose yourself with blue light in the evening, the better,” says TJ Grewal, whose company, Soraa, makes “healthy” bulbs that eliminate blue from the spectrum. For the maximum benefit, place them in any room where you or your family spend evening and night hours. “Just by changing a lightbulb, you’re improving your environment,” Grewal says—and maybe your health, too.
Q: What is one change I can make to my home to increase my restfulness?
“I need to be able to walk into my house and take a deep breath,” says designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano. To help her busy clients do the same, she creates a dedicated “retreat room” in the home or yard. This “space away from it all” lets her quietly unplug away from everyday distractions like TV, and recline onto soft rugs and moveable floor cushions. Recent retreat spaces she’s designed include low-slung four-poster beds strewn with pillows overlooking the ocean (above) and a “nap cabin” at her family’s Montana getaway. “It’s really about finding these places where we can go, even if it’s just for five minutes,” she says.
Q: What is something I can do to revamp my bedroom and its energy?
Brooklyn designer Catherine Brophy uses feng shui to re-energize spaces. “Feng shui is the artful directing of qi,” she explains. “Everything has energy, even things we think of as inanimate.” That’s why a to-do list on the nightstand or a hamper in the corner might be keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep, or even from connecting with your partner. “Nothing kills intimacy faster than looking at unfinished business,” she says.
Q: How do you think home décor influences a restful state of mind?
Toronto designer Meredith Horton likes to view her bedroom as a “permanent vacation,” just like a hotel or a day at the spa. She looks to those interiors for decor inspiration: “I love how hotels create a fullbody experience: sound, scent, touch, lighting,” she says. In fact, her own mattress and beloved room scent were sourced from brands at her preferred getaways (Fairmont and Kimpton hotels, respectively).
Q: What are your best tips to ensure for the most restful sleep routine?
Dr. Shelby Harris, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist, promotes “sleep hygiene,” or the idea that good practices in the bedroom lead to better sleep. “You need to have a clean bedroom, a space that’s inviting and makes you say, ‘I want to go to sleep here,’” says Harris, who sets the thermostat to the upper 60s to help make her space “like a cave: dark, quiet, cool.” She recommends keeping to the same schedule every day of the week, even if it’s different from your partner’s (eye masks, silicone earplugs, and vibrating alarm clocks can help). “The best way to figure out your magic number [of sleep hours] is to go on vacation and track your sleep every night to see what feels natural,” she says. “If you stick to that schedule at home and still feel groggy, it’s time to see a sleep specialist,” says Harris. “And use the bed only for sleep and intimacy, so they’re the things your bedroom brings to mind.”
Sophie Donelson is editor of House Beautiful magazine.