Your Natural Home
Creating a cozy hearth for the family

How to Ensure a Better Sleep Environment

modern minimal bedroom design
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Have you ever found yourself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night despite being exhausted after a full day of work and stress? Sometimes, all it takes to prevent the twisting and turning and fall right asleep is to tweak the design of your room and make a few lifestyle adjustments.

Before you transform into a night owl, with several layers of eyebags and a sudden craving to take up night-time knitting lessons, take a look at the following steps you can take in order to increase your bedroom’s sleepability and enjoy every second of your zzz’s before your head hits the pillow!

nest smart thermostat
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Keep an Eye on Temperature

If you’re a warmth-loving lizard like myself, then you might be in the habit of keeping your bedroom windows shut for the best part of the day, and purposefully avoiding lowering your room temperature when it’s finally sleep o’clock.

However, rooms that are too hot are one of the main culprits of poor sleeping habits, leading you to either stay awake for too long, or make you feel drowsy and sluggish in the morning. Think somewhere along the lines of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and your room will be perfectly crisp and fresh to tell your body it’s time for some shut-eye.

bedroom with neutral color palette
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Rethink Your Color Palette

This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill – if you choose to paint your bedroom in neon green with splashes of crimson red, then you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself wondering about the meaning of life at three in the morning.

A soothing shade of sky blue, soft green or yellow, or any creamy, pastel hue of your choice can be incredibly sleep-inducing. Avoid grey, purple and brown at all cost, and make sure that your accent colors are not too vibrant to cause a disturbance in the sleepy force of your bedroom.

Learn more about the connection between color and mood in The Psychology of Color.

simple potted succulent
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Air Quality Matters

For people who suffer from allergies or asthma, but even for the rest of us all-year-round, there are so many airborne irritants that can wreak havoc on our quality of sleep. Think pollen, dust, smoke, soot, pet dander and other pollution buildup, all of which makes it close to impossible to breathe freely and enjoy uninterrupted sleep.

To that end, finding a HEPA air purifier for your bedroom can keep your indoor air clean, without making excessive noise or messing up the Feng Shui of your décor. In fact, it makes for quite an asset, since it will seamlessly fit in with any room design and you’ll even forget it’s there after a while, but your lungs will surely be able to tell the difference.

Find five more ways to improve your indoor air quality that will also keep toxic emissions at bay and improve overall health.

simple bedroom decor
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Think Minimal Thoughts

Just like clutter destroys your focus and plays tricks on your mind during those creative hours of the day, a chaotic bedroom can also affect your mindset when it’s time to turn in. On the other hand, if your design revolves around purpose, then your bed will be the centerpiece of your bedroom décor as well.

Some items that are commonly placed in the bedroom and don’t belong there are TV sets, exercise equipment, and similar action-inspiring things should be moved to a different area of your home. Keep it a private, Zen nook and make sure that even the smallest details, such as your photos, reflect a serene mindset that will help you sleep.

white mussed bedding
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Revise Your Bedding

Even if you do comply with all the tips above, yet still choose to sleep on a disturbingly uncomfortable mattress with bedding of equally poor quality – your efforts will be futile, to say the least. Yes, I realize that spending time to think about mattresses and bedding is nowhere near exciting or glamorous, but it’s essential for quality sleep.

Find a suitable replacement for your bedding by looking for hypoallergenic materials, test a mattress before you choose the one with the right firmness for you and, by all means, use separate blankets with your partner, so that both of you can sleep comfortably without hogging the covers.


Catherine is a passionate home design consultant from Melbourne. She loves making homes beautiful and buildings sustainable, but she also like sharing her advice and knowledge with people. That is why she is also a regular contributor to the Smooth Decorator blog. Besides all this, she loves reading and enjoys a superhero movie from time to time. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Calculate Your Peak Sun-Hours

One important question that many individuals have when deciding whether or not installing a solar energy system is the right move for them is “do I live in an area that receives enough sun to make solar panels worth it?” To answer this question, it’s critical to understand how much sun solar panels need in order to operate effectively, what peak sun-hours are, and how you can calculate the peak sun-hours in your area to get the most out of the solar power that’s up for grabs.

solar panel grid
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How much sun do solar panels need to operate effectively?

Although direct sunlight provides optimum conditions for solar energy systems, solar panels produce electricity from the photons present in natural daylight, rather than from the sunlight itself, which means that panels don’t actually need to be installed in direct sunlight to work. Heat isn’t a factor that affects how much electricity PV solar panels can generate either, so a cool spring day could be as productive, if not more, than a sweltering summer day. Even in cloudy weather solar panels can absorb energy to produce power, but it will be at a reduced rate compared to sunny days—typically between 25 and 40 percent.

Panel placement is perhaps a more important factor than natural conditions. If panels are installed in an area on your property that receives a significant amount of shade, they may still be able to produce some electricity (depending on the equipment), but this will usually pose more of an issue than clouds or cold weather. Ideally, solar panels will be installed facing south, but a solar professional can help you determine the best placement for panels on your specific property.

bright sunlight and clouds
Photo by Max Pixel

What are peak sun-hours?

While the amount of sunlight your panels receive is important, a more accurate representation of the amount of power your panels have the potential to produce is peak sun-hours. Note that peak sun-hours is not the same as hours of daylight; a peak-sun hour describes the intensity of sunlight in a specific area and is defined as an hour of sunlight that offers 1,000 watts of photovoltaic power per square meter. Peak sun-hours occur when the sun is highest in the sky and generally increase during summer months and the closer an area is to the equator.

calculations
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How do I calculate the peak-sun hours in my area?

Knowing the average number of peak sun-hours where you live can help you decide whether or not solar panels are a worthwhile investment for your home. Most areas in the United States average between 3 and 5 peak sun-hours per day, but this is likely to fluctuate depending on the season.

To calculate your peak-sun hours, use an isolation map to see how much solar energy your location receives throughout the year. You can also take a look at different charts that compile data on solar radiation, including monthly and seasonal averages. To calculate the exact number of peak sun-hours that solar panels will receive on your property, you can purchase an isolation meter or build your own. After placing the meter in direct sunlight, it will give you a reading on current light intensity and solar power supply, which can help you to determine peak sun-hours.

If you find that your peak sun-hours are relatively low, don’t fret — solar energy may still be a viable option. As mentioned above, even with less-than-optimal conditions, solar panels can still produce a decent amount of power and be beneficial for both you and the environment. Consider consulting with a solar expert if you’re unsure whether or not your home is a good candidate for a solar energy system.


A proponent of renewable energy and green living, Sarah Hancock enjoys writing about sustainability and manages the solar blog on BestCompany.com. You can also find her work on Twitter.