Science has known for a while that colour strongly affects psychology. Colours can energize and relax but also invoke feelings like danger, optimism, and even hunger. How a hue influences people depends on factors like culture and personal associations with colours. Still, generally speaking, there are certain moods that each colour family evokes.
When you’re looking for a colour to help you sleep, you want something calming. So, what are the best bedroom colours for sleep? For most people, these will be blues, greens, purples, and neutrals.
The Best Colours for Sleep
Regardless of how you rest, the best colours for sleep are ones that promote relaxation. While this can vary between cultures, cooler colours and neutrals often help the body and mind wind down. A 2018 study found that the preferred colour for sleep was blue, followed by green and purple.
Blue represents tranquillity and peace. There’s a reason for this: it has been shown to soothe the parasympathetic nervous system, meaning blue can calm the body by reducing heart rate. This relaxed state makes it easier for the body to fall asleep.
Pastel blues and muted blues are best for sleep. These shades are slightly warmer, evoking a cozy feel as opposed to a cold, icy aura. When choosing a shade of blue for your bedroom, focus on a colour similar to water or sky to help promote tranquillity.
Green can also work well for sleep, depending on the shade. It has the potential to be harmonizing and peaceful but can also be vibrant and energizing.
The best shades of green to promote sleep are softer, muted varieties, like sage, and those with a more blue hue, such as seafoam and mint. Conversely, vibrant greens like neon and lime can be too energizing for sleep.
For many, green has a positive connotation, in large part because of its association with the national cricket team and, of course, the Wallabies. So, if you’re passionate about sports, green might be the option for you.
Like green, purple is a secondary colour made partly of blue. As a result, certain shades can also create a calm and relaxing atmosphere.
For instance, lavender isn’t just a good plant for relaxation; it’s also a good bedroom colour. Similarly, other muted purples, such as lilac and mauve, help promote sleep.
However, purples that are too vibrant or bright can increase mental stimulation, so stay away from hues like violet or royal purple. There is some conflicting evidence showing that dark purple may cause nightmares. While there is no certainty to this, it doesn’t hurt to avoid options like plum and lapis.
Pink isn’t a colour that will be calming for everyone. Due to its association with femininity, some may find themselves uncomfortable in a pink room. For everyone else, softer and muted shades like dusty rose and blush can be comforting and tranquil. Avoid colours like magenta or hot pink, which are too vibrant and overly stimulating.
As with the colours above, neutrals should be soft and muted to promote sleep. This means champagne over brown and silver over slate. These promote tranquillity, but going too dark could make the room feel depressing and draining.
Things To Consider When Choosing a Colour for Sleep
While these are the best bedroom colours for sleep, there are a few things to remember when choosing a hue:
- Regardless of the colour family, choose a soft or muted shade. Bright shades, regardless of the hue, can be overstimulating.
- Opt for a matte paint for your bedroom. Glossy paints can be distracting and stimulating.
- If you can’t change your paint colour, like if you’re renting, add soothing tones to your decor, such as curtains, bedding, and rugs.
- Choose a colour you like. If you hate the colour green, painting your bedroom in it won’t create a relaxing space, no matter how tranquil the shade is supposed to be.
If you grew up in a different culture, you might have varying perspectives of what these colours symbolize. For example:
- Some Latin American countries associate blue with mourning.
- Green is forbidden in parts of Indonesia for its association with death and bad luck, while in China, it may indicate infidelity. Elsewhere, in some areas of South America, it symbolizes death.
- Purple is used in mourning in countries like Brazil and Thailand.
- Pink skews more masculine in Japan, as it did in Western culture until the 1950s.
- Many Eastern and Asian countries associate brown or white with mourning.
The Psychology of Other Colours
Science has been studying colour psychology for decades. That research is used for many things, like clothing design, interior design, colour-coded systems, and marketing.
Reds are attention-grabbing, heart-racing colours. The colour red can cause raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, and even increase testosterone, and as a result, is the worst colour to use in a bedroom for sleep. Psychologically, red is associated with danger, passion, love, excitement, and power.
Red has very different meanings around the globe. For instance, in many Asian and African countries, red will elicit a different response.
The orange colour family elicits feelings of vitality, energy, and optimism. It’s cheerful and confident but not as overpowering as red.
Many Western cultures associate orange with autumn and harvest. However, orange might be viewed differently depending on a person’s background:
Yellows often bring energy and joy and stimulate creativity. Studies have shown that yellow can increase mental clarity. Moreover, the colour (gold, to be precise) has been synonymous due to the golden wattle flower.
Black may have different contexts depending on your outlook. Often, black is seen as a sophisticated colour; formal weddings are “black tie,” and an exclusive fashion collection is “black label.” However, black is often associated with sadness and depression and is a standard mourning colour in the Western world.
The best bedroom colours for sleep are cooler, soft, and muted colours. Blues, greens, and purples inspire feelings of tranquillity and relaxation, creating the ideal environment for a good night’s sleep. However, the shade you choose and your cultural background may impact your feelings about a colour.
No matter what, go with what makes you feel the calmest and most relaxed. Don’t force yourself to choose a shade you hate or that doesn’t match your existing decor or colour palette. You’ll sleep better in a room that you’re happy and comfortable in.