Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

A quick scroll through the millions of #bedroomdesign posts on Instagram suggests that the bedroom wellbeing movement is gaining pace. “Bedroom sanctuary” is trending as an internet search term, along with pictures of celebrity bedrooms, such as Jennifer Aniston’s, which has a minimalist wooden bed with retractable television at the foot, and the designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s canopied four-poster. John Lewis is launching a sleep wellness consultation service to help customers with their bedroom layout and bedding, and give personalised advice on bedtime routines and breathing techniques for those coping with anxiety, insomnia, new motherhood and the menopause.

In the name of better sleep, I give the service a go – from the comfort of my bed, of course. Interior designer Tracy Blackwell approves of my bluey green wall paint (darker pigments can make a room feel cosier) but suggests adding more cushions and throws to create a homelier mood. She also recommends moving the bed to face the door – more relaxing, apparently – and increasing the storage as clutter is not calming. “Lighting is also crucial: try to create a warm and soothing glow in the evenings,” she says, adding that a sunrise alarm clock, such as a Lumie Bodyclock (£79, johnlewis.com) – which starts to brighten 30 minutes before your alarm time – will wake me up gradually with light, leaving me feeling more rested in the morning.

I don’t watch films or eat breakfast in bed – four young children have put a stop to such luxuries – but for those who do, Blackwell suggests making a virtue of it. Buy a big TV to hang on the wall opposite the bed – she recommends a Samsung Frame television that becomes a restful painting once you’ve switched off Married at First Sight – and invest in decadent trays for breakfast in bed and movie dinners. If your dog or cat sleeps in the bedroom, make a virtue of that too by giving them their own bed space, says Beccy Bennett, virtual sleep wellness partner at John Lewis. (Although if Fido does end up sleeping in your bed, remind yourself there are studies that show dogs in bed can improve anxiety-induced insomnia.) “Our dog sleeps in our bay window, otherwise he cries outside the door,” Bennett admits.

My vice is using my laptop in bed – a big no, according to sleep experts, if you want your brain to switch off and sleep restfully. If you must use your bedroom as an office, Wilson advises installing a proper desk and creating a work area that can be curtained off when you clock off. “It’s about creating that essential boundary between work and rest,” he says. Or you could ignore this good advice, as I have, and focus on making bedtime working luxurious: the White Company’s wicker bed tray (£100, thewhitecompany.com) is large enough for a laptop with space for books and notepads at the side and becomes an extra bedside table when not in use.

So far, my bedroom overhaul hasn’t cost the earth; it’s the bed, though, that can really blow the budget. According to Wilson, however, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of overinvesting in the bed and scrimping on the mattress, when the right mattress can alleviate chronic back problems and help you to sleep soundly, even if your partner is thrashing away next to you. “A bed is a health product first and piece of furniture second, which means prioritising the mattress,” he insists. “Research it the way you would a new car or phone; if you spend thousands on a bed and pennies on a mattress you’ve got the equation all wrong.”

But how is one expected to know which mattress to go for when faced with a sea of pocket springs, continuous coil, latex and memory foam? Would I have a markedly better sleep on John Lewis’s most expensive mattress – an emperor-sized, cashmere, pocket-sprung affair costing £18,000 – than an entry-level memory foam mattress from Emma for £270? According to Stuart Lister, the bed expert on my John Lewis consultation, it all depends on your weight, anatomy and how hot you get when you sleep.

Memory foam mattresses tend to be cheaper, he explains, and are often recommended by chiropractors to alleviate back complaints; the hybrid spring and memory foam Emma Premium has a 10 year guarantee and is the UK’s most awarded mattress. Some people, however, find the foam makes them too hot. Sprung mattresses with natural fillings are more expensive, particularly if cashmere and horsehair are involved, but they are more breathable. There are even bespoke split-tension mattresses, available, Lister says, with different springs and fabrics on each side to suit a couple’s different sleeping preferences.

Size is another important consideration; more than 60 per cent of Britain shares a standard double bed, which leaves them less sleeping space than a baby has in a cot. A larger mattress – such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s, which is super-sized to fit her whole family, including cousins – will leave you cooler and less likely to be disturbed by your partner and/or children.

And then there is the firmness to check. A mattress should make you feel as if you are supported, without either sinking in or lying on a board. Lister recommends lying on the mattress on your back and attempting to slide your hand under the small of your back; if you struggle, the firmness is about right. “In store, we can check to see if you have straight spine alignment when you’re lying on your side and can test which pillow works best for you.”

Ah yes, the next minefield: what to put on the bed. It’s not enough to have a mattress; you will probably also want a mattress topper for a comforting layer of softness: if you have £7,250 to £11,965 to spare, luxury brand Savoir Beds has the cashmere HCa topper, which promises the feeling of floating weightlessness (savoirbeds.com). For duvet hogs, Wilson recommends going for two singles, while Bennett reckons a three-in-one Hungarian goose down duvet (£420, johnlewis.com) is a good solution for all seasons. She also recommends trying a weighted blanket (£80, johnlewis.com) to reduce stress and anxiety. If you want to be grand, though, sleep between Frette sheets (from £725, eu.frette.com) with an eiderdown. According to etiquette expert William Hanson, flat sheets, preferably with a little starch in the wash, are still found in Britain’s grandest country houses.

When it comes to pillows, memory foam options suit those who sleep mainly on their backs, Bennett says, as they support the nape of the neck, while softer goose down versions are more comfortable for side and front sleepers. “The whole bed, complete with bedding, must do the work to ensure you’re completely restful when you go to bed,” she says. To avoid creases on your face in the morning, she suggests using a silk pillowcase, though linen bedding is also becoming increasingly popular as it’s breathable, temperature regulating and you don’t have to iron it (John Lewis has a range, as does oncemilano.com).

When buying bedlinen, we are as obsessed and confused about threadcount as ever: put simply the higher the thread count, the softer the cotton – but, as Bennett points out, the more you will have to iron. She recommends John Lewis’s 800-thread Egyptian cotton bedlinen, costing from £40 for a pillowcase, as a good compromise between easy maintenance, crispness and softness – although for £180 you can buy a 1,000-thread pillowcase from Savoir Bed made from rare Giza 87 cotton, which is considered to be the finest Egyptian cotton in the world.

I’m more interested in what to wear in my upgraded bedroom. Jennifer Lopez wafts around in Olivia Von Halle silk pyjamas (£460, oliviavonhalle.com), while Rosie Huntington Whiteley opts for Michael Lo Sordo satin (£505, netaporter.com). According to Molly Goddard and Joel Jeffery – the husband and wife founders of pyjama brand Desmond & Dempsey, which saw sales increase by 400 per cent during lockdown – there are benefits to dressing up in downtime. “Why not wear something you love when you’re trying to unwind?” asks Jeffery. “When I eat breakfast in my PJs during the week, it always feels as if I’m on a mini holiday.”

The John Lewis sleep wellness team will also offer advice on nightwear (100 per cent cotton camisoles and shorts for hot sleepers; brushed cotton if you get cold) – and they will go even further if you wish, to what happens between the sheets. “If you warm up the mood in the bedroom, one thing can lead to another,” Lister says. “Rather than lights off, socks off, you want to set the scene by making the atmosphere more romantic.”

Such conversations will, he hopes, be less awkward in the virtual setting than they are in store, where sex is still a taboo subject. “The only time it’s alluded to is if a customer has broken a bed and needs to get a new one,” he says.

In which case, one would imagine, no advice is needed.

Gabby Deeming, 42, Creative Director and founder of Daydress

Some people can’t wait to get out of their bedrooms in the morning. I’m the opposite; I’m a total nester. I’d happily spend forever in my bedroom, which is in a flat in a Georgian building in Bloomsbury. I love waking up with gauzy morning light coming over the half curtain. I go to bed early and watch something or draw for Day Dress on my ipad. I don’t have any problem with using screens in the bedroom.

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Wizadclick | WAC MAG 2021