The Best and Worst Colors for Sleep

Your environment plays a significant role in your ability to get a good night’s sleep. When we feel relaxed and calm in our sleep space, we are more likely to drift off quickly and rest soundly. When creating a room conducive to sleep, it is important to consider everything from light to temperature to whether you’re sleeping on the best mattress.

Believe it or not, the colors in your bedroom can also contribute to sleep. Experts in color psychology argue that certain hues immediately put us at ease, while others may leave us feeling anxious and alert. To help you design the perfect bedroom, we outline the best and worst colors for sleep. We also offer some tips for painting and designing a more tranquil sleep space.

The Best Colors for Sleep

The colors most conducive to sleep are natural, muted hues—often described as earth or skin tones. Research shows these colors have a relaxing, calming effect on the mind and promote feelings of contentment.

Blue

Blue is widely considered to be one of the best bedroom colors. It is often associated with water, which promotes a soothing heaviness beneficial for sleep. The color blue also has a unique effect on the brain. Studies show special receptors in the retina, called ganglion cells, are more sensitive to blue than other colors. When resting in a blue bedroom, these receptors influence the circadian rhythm, signaling the mind and body that it is time for sleep.

Experts also believe the color blue can lower blood pressure—making blue is an excellent color for an office space or living room.

Lavender

Lavender has a different effect on the mind and body than brighter shades of purple. Most shades of purple stimulate the brain and promote creativity. However, lavender encourages relaxation because of its cool undertones and soft, inviting hue. Bedroom walls painted in a pale lavender color look great with warm wood tones and metallics.

Light Pink

Like purple, brighter shades of pink can be overstimulating, but pastel pink creates a soft, tranquil feeling in a bedroom. Pastel lavender and pink are associated with flowers and springtime, providing a sense of joy and lightness. When selecting pink paint, be sure to choose one with fewer red undertones since red can often trigger alertness.

Tan or Beige

Neutral colors, like tan and beige, invoke the outdoors and create a natural, relaxing feeling in your bedroom. Tones resembling sand and straw have a warm glow that reflects sunlight, helping you wake up invigorated and ready for the day.

By layering different shades of beige in your room, you can design a welcoming and inviting space to promote restful sleep. Beige also won’t clash with accent colors in your bedding, furniture, or accessories.

Pale Yellow

Softer shades of yellow can create the sensation of being wrapped in sunshine. This shade promotes joy and tranquility, helping to alleviate stress so we can sleep peacefully. Bright yellow can stimulate the nervous system, so be sure to select yellow paint with a muted, natural hue.

Green

Natural shades of green, such as sage green, can help you feel more balanced and content. These colors invoke images of grass, flowers, trees, and gardens. Like blue, green promotes a heavy, calm feeling conducive to sleep.

Natural greens also pair well with white bedding and warm, wood tones. When choosing green paint, be sure to select one with blue-green hues, rather than yellow-green hues.

Gray

Gray has become a popular bedroom color because it creates the sensation of a rainy, gloomy day—making us want to stay cozy and warm in bed. Depending on the shade, gray can have both cold and warm undertones. Warm gray tones tend to be better for sleep and relaxation. Therefore, be sure to look at paint samples in both natural and indoor light to determine the feeling they will create in your bedroom.

The Worst Colors for Sleep

Bright, cool colors are less conducive to sleep. These colors promote brain activity, stimulate the nervous system, and create the need to be physically active.

Bright Purple

Unlike soft lavender, bright purple hues with reddish undertones, such as violet, invigorate the body and spark the imagination—keeping us active and alert. Due to its close association with creativity, many believe purple promotes vivid dreams and nightmares.

Cool Gray Tones

Warm gray tones have a soothing effect on the mind and body. However, cool gray hues often feel impersonal and uninviting. These colors can promote feelings of isolation that make us anxious, sad, and worried—all of which inhibit sleep and relaxation.

Dark Brown

Unlike pale shades of brown, dark brown colors are associated with negative emotions. This color can make your sleep space feel drab, gloomy, and uninspired—causing anxiety and sadness that keep you from sleep.

Red and Orange Hues

Studies show the color red increases brain activity. This color is often associated with performance and achievement, both of which promote physical activity.

The color red can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, making it difficult for the body to relax and drift off to sleep. Orange colors also increase vitality and energy, causing us to feel alert rather than calm and relaxed.

Lime Green

Sage green is a soft, soothing color. However, lime green promotes vigor and activity, making us feel awake and lively. Lime green is also distracting and overwhelming in a small space, causing us to feel anxious and nervous before bed.

Other Things to Consider

  • Use flat paint: Avoid paint with a glossy finish since it often reflects light. Flatter paint colors absorb light and create a peaceful, calm environment.
  • Create a bedroom color scheme: Before choosing your wall color, decide on a color scheme for your bedroom. This ensures the colors in your bedding, walls, flooring, and accessories won’t clash. Colors parallel to each other on the color wheel complement each other. Contrasting colors are often stimulating and not conducive to sleep.
  • Choose cozy bedding: Soft, fluffy pillows and bedding can make your sleep space even more inviting. The best pillows support your neck and head in your favorite sleep position. Choose fabrics that appeal to your senses and put you at ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What color helps with anxiety?

Studies show the color blue promotes feelings of peace, openness, and tranquility. This is one reason a blue bedroom promotes better sleep. When we are calm and relaxed before bed, we are more likely to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly.

What colors make a room look bigger?

Soft, natural colors such as light blue, sage green, and off-while can make a room look bigger and more open. Molding painted a lighter color than the walls can also make the room look larger.

There are other tricks to make a room look larger or feel smaller. One thing to consider is your mattress size—a large mattress like a king can feel cramped in a small bedroom. Make sure your bed size suits your room.

Is it better to sleep in the dark?

A dark bedroom is ideal for quality sleep. Blue light from our electronic screens can interfere with our melatonin production and cause sleep disruptions. Blackout curtains and blinds can keep out white light and prevent it from interrupting your sleep. 

Should you have a mirror in your bedroom? 

Some design philosophies believe mirrors should not be placed in the bedroom. They argue that mirrors bounce energy around the room, creating feelings of restlessness and anxiety. If you have a mirror in your bathroom, that may be enough for your personal needs.

Is blue light good for sleep?

The blue light from electronic screens, such as smartphones and laptops, can mimic sunlight's effects on the brain. This light exposure inhibits melatonin production (the sleep hormone) and keeps the mind active and awake. Therefore, it is best to avoid these screens at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime to maintain a good sleep schedule.

Conclusion

Above all, the color of your bedroom walls should appeal to your tastes. However, be sure to choose a soft, natural hue to promote deep, restful sleep. Your bedroom should be a calm, inviting space that helps you relax before bed and sleep soundly throughout the night.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

Andrew Russell, Wellness Writer Andrew Russell

Andrew Russell is a part-time writer and full-time sleep enthusiast. At Zoma, Andrew lends his sleep expertise and writes many of our “better sleep” guides. Outside of Zoma, Andrew puts his advice to the test, always trying new ways to get deeper, more restorative sleep. We appreciate Andrew because he doesn’t give advice that he doesn’t follow himself, so you can feel confident his solutions for better sleep really do the trick.

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