The bedroom affects your ability to sleep well. When you feel calm and content, you’re more likely to fall asleep quickly. The colors in your bedroom, in particular, can make the difference between a good night’s sleep or a night spent tossing and turning.
Color psychology experts found that some colors put us at ease, while others cause us to feel alert. In our article, we share the best and worst colors for sleep, so you can better understand how color affects the circadian rhythm.
Best Bedroom Colors for Sleep
The best colors for sleep are blue, yellow, green, silver, orange, pink, and white. These colors reduce stress and soothe the nervous system. Try to stick with neutral or pastel shades for a soft, welcoming atmosphere.
One of the best bedroom colors is blue because it’s associated with calm and relaxation. Blue is a non-stimulating color, while in contrast, a red room stimulates the brain and produces more cortisol, resulting in poor sleep quality.
The brain is more perceptive to the color blue than any other color thanks to special receptors called ganglion cells, located in the retinas. Ganglion cells collect information from visual surroundings and transform this information into chemical signals to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain responsible for producing hormones, like melatonin and cortisol.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone and influences the sleep-wake cycle, and cortisol is a stress hormone, keeping your alert during the day. So when you see blue, the hypothalamus produces more melatonin and less cortisol.
Softer shades of yellow create a tranquil environment because the muted tone imitates sunshine. Soft yellows alleviate stress and promote tranquility, so you can sleep peacefully.
Brighter hues boost energy and should be avoided. Choose pastels that are light and gently creamy, like an ivory color that’s faded to yellow with time.
The color green is another excellent color choice for relaxation. Green is also another easy color for the eyes to see because, like the color blue, they are sensitive to green light.
Similar to a blue room, a green room helps us feel calm and peaceful because green is a non-stimulating color. The best green colors for sleep should have blue tones—warm tones like yellow may cause you to feel energetic instead of helping you unwind. Remember, pastels are your friend when it comes to promoting sleep, so choose a shade like pastel green.
Silver is a great choice if you prefer neutral colors. Unlike dark gray tones, silver induces calm feelings instead of depressive ones. Be sure to choose a matte silver color and not a shiny paint—the shine reflects any bright light, keeping you awake.
Essentially, it should be a soothing shade of light gray. If you find light gray or silver is bland on its own, you may want to pair it with a gentle blue accent wall.
Orange / Light Brown
Light orange colors, including tan and beige, have a warm tone reminiscent of a sandy beach, creating a welcoming space in your bedroom. Choose orange colors with brown undertones, like terracotta, and avoid bright orange colors because they are invigorating to the brain, much like a warm and deep red would be. Remember, softness is key when it comes to picking new hues for your bedroom walls.
Pink may not seem like a good color for the bedroom because of its red tones, but a soft, natural pink gives off a tranquil feeling that can help you fall asleep quickly. Avoid bright red tones that can bring the wall forward and make it pop.
Think instead of cool pinks that help the wall fade into the background of your bedroom. These can still span a wide range, from gentle rosy colors to pale pinks that are almost white.
If you already have white bedroom walls, you may not have much reason to change them. It’s a simple, neutral color that is unlikely to create distracting feelings or sensations, though some do find it feels cold and sterile. If you find white walls boring, you might want to try an accent wall with some of our other color recommendations. White goes well with everything, after all.
Bedding that offers muted pastels, neutral tones, and other relaxing colors can keep a white bedroom from feeling uninviting. Though the drawback is that eventually these sheets will lose their luster and you will need to take steps to whiten your sheets.
You can also make the room feel warmer by going with a slightly off-white color, such as ivory or cream tones that can look almost like very pale yellows.
Worst Bedroom Colors for Sleep
Purple, gray, brown, black, and red are the worst colors for sleep. Gray, brown, and black promotes negative emotions, while purple and red boost alertness. Individuals with these bedroom colors are more likely to sleep less than 7 hours each night.
While you can repaint your bedroom walls if you choose a color that simply doesn’t work for you, it’s best to save yourself the hassle of extra work by understanding what hues are linked to stimulating or uncertain feelings.
Bright purple is not a good choice for the bedroom. Bright purple hues have reddish undertones, increasing energy levels and keeping you alert, but softer purple shades may boost sleepiness.
If you’re set on painting your bedroom purple, try to choose a more muted tone, like lavender, because of its cool undertones. Remember, the goal is to have your bedroom walls almost fade into the background of your mind, not immediately jump out at you every time you look at your wall.
Dark gray promotes depression because it gives a similar feel to a rainy or overcast day. Dark gray is a good accent color, like a trim along the floor molding and door frame to offset a lighter neutral color. However, painting the entire walls this dark shade and adding gray bedding creates a somber atmosphere.
Silver or gray with blue undertones are better choices if you want a neutral color. As mentioned above, a hint of dark gray is fine for floor trim and such to offset lighter gray shades.
Brown is a gloomy color, as one 2018 study noted. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source The shade can increase subconscious feelings of sadness and cause restlessness instead of sleep—not exactly a cozy feel for the bedroom atmosphere.
Warmer browns with orangish tones can feel calming and soothing, but darker, cooler browns may make it hard to relax.
Red is an invigorating color, increasing heart rate. One study found the color red increases brain activity Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source and boosts alertness, something you don’t want when trying to relax and fall asleep. For many, red is a color linked to a perceived threat. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source
If you love the color, we recommend pastels that are closer to pink in hue. You can also have an accent wall with soothing white walls, to minimize distraction and stimulation.
Black bedroom walls may sound like a soothing way to improve sleep, promoting a dark sleeping space. In practice, however, black bedroom walls can feel depressive and create feelings of gloom and sadness, similar to how dark brown shades are linked to negative emotions.
If you enjoy the color, black curtains can add a touch of pop against a lighter neutral color and promote darkness for better sleep.
Before painting the bedroom walls, we recommend establishing a color scheme with sleep-promoting colors and using flat paint to create a cozy environment conducive to sleep.
Decide on a color scheme for your bedroom before painting to avoid color clashing. Choose colors parallel to each other on the color wheel—contrasting colors are stimulating, because they clash with each other, so instead of a sleep-inducing environment, you may feel anxious and restless. This is especially true if you have three walls that are one color, usually white, and an accent wall.
While we discussed accent walls with a primarily white bedroom, it’s important to remember these should be largely soothing, light colors such as pastels. An accent wall that’s making a statement and providing a bright flash of color should be saved for other rooms in the home, like the kitchen or living room.
Before you start painting, you may want to have a clear idea of what color your bedding will be in your room. While sheets, blankets, duvet covers, pillowcases and pillow shams are all easy to switch out, it’s still helpful to have the right bedding at the start instead of replacing it with more neutral-colored bedding.
Stick with flat paint, instead of one with a high-shine or glossy finish. The shine reflects light, disrupting sleep. Flatter paints with a matte finish absorb light and are less invigorating, promoting relaxation.
Other Ways to Create a Relaxing Bedroom
If you want to improve your sleep hygiene with the right bedroom set-up, there are a few simple tricks you can consider beyond the colors you paint your bedroom walls.
Darkness in the bedroom is essential. If light tends to slip through your bedroom window at night, you might want to consider blackout curtains that will create an atmosphere that promotes sleep.
It’s also helpful to get as much technology out of the bedroom as possible. Ideally, you should have only your alarm clock and perhaps your cell phone, which should be switched off at night if possible. We suggest keeping TVs, tablets and computers out of the bedroom, as they can feel distracting even if they are switched off.
If you can, try to use your bedroom during the day as little as possible. For example, if you work from home, resist the temptation of working on a laptop in bed. Instead, try to save your bedroom for sleep and sleep alone.
Re-doing your sleeping space for increased comfort doesn’t have to break the bank, as there are plenty of budget-friendly hacks and DIY tricks to makeover your bedroom, as Redfin discusses. You can even get creative with stencils and create a design that mimics wallpaper without the cost and bring in distinct textures with different fabrics and materials.
Typically, the most expensive part of any comfortable bedroom is the mattress. However, you can squeeze the highest value from your bed by equipping it with one of the most durable mattresses on the market.
We have other guides that suggest ways to create the best bedroom setup for sleep:
- How a Tech-Free Bedroom Creates Smarter Sleep
- Creating a Calm, Clutter-Free Bedroom
- Bedroom Feng Shui for Better Sleep: A Beginner’s Guide
- How to Cool Down a Room
- Bedroom Set-ups for Children With Autism
- How to Block Out Noise While Sleeping
- Sleeping With A Fan On
- Fire Safety Tips for the Bedroom
- Bedrooms for Asthma
- Best Plants for Your Bedroom
- How to Arrange Accent Pillows on the Bed
What color light helps you sleep?
Warm light is better for sleep because the eyes are less sensitive to the longer wavelengths in warm light. Light bulbs with a yellow or red hue and are best for bedside lamps. Blue light, on the other hand, is the worst for sleep. Blue light from LED light bulbs and electronic devices disrupts melatonin production because your eyes are more sensitive to blue light.
Are white sheets a good color for sleep?
White bedding is an excellent choice for sleep because the neutral tone doesn’t stimulate the brain, unlike bright red and purple tones. White is neutral and has a relaxing effect, pairing well with other colors conducive to sleep, including blues and yellows.
What colors make a room look bigger?
Soft shades and natural colors can make a room appear bigger and more open—you may want to consider light blues, pale greens, and off-white colors for smaller spaces, like a studio or one-bedroom apartments where space is limited. Another technique is painting the molding a lighter color than the walls, giving the illusion of a larger bedroom.
What are good neutral tones for the bedroom?
If you can’t sleep, don’t force yourself to stay in bed—this increases stress and makes it harder to fall asleep. Instead, get up, leave the room, and do a simple activity, like writing in your journal or reading a book. When you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.
What color helps with anxiety?
Researchers have found the color blue induces feelings of tranquility and peacefulness, the opposite of anxiety. A blue room doesn’t alert the mind, and instead, promotes calm, so you feel more at ease—you’re likely to fall asleep and stay asleep than you would if sleeping in a brightly-painted bedroom.
Some of the best colors for sleep have a soft, natural hue to create a calm atmosphere, perfect for deep sleep. Choose colors appealing to your taste and create a color scheme to enhance sleep. Light blue is one of the best colors for sleep because the soft tone creates a calm and inviting atmosphere conducive for sleep.
About the author
Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.View all posts