To Sleep or Not to Sleep: How Feng Shui Can Help Banish Your Senior Insomnia
For a variety of reasons, many of us over 60 experience sleep issues. You may have a hard time falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Or maybe you just wake up too early and lie there, with nothing to do for a couple of hours.
These are common complaints of people our age, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re still working or are retired, sharing your bed or sleeping alone. Any of us can have sleep troubles throughout our 60s and beyond, whether consistently, frequently, or sporadically.
After you’ve tried all the conventional advice for insomnia you remember from when you were younger, you may decide that it’s simply an inescapable part of aging. But there is something you may not have tried that could help.
Setting the Stage
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice that focuses on how we arrange everything in our living spaces. Colors, shapes, and specific items are either placed or left out of areas in our homes to facilitate optimal effects on the respective areas of our lives.
So, according to Feng Shui, where your bedroom is in your home, as well as everything in it, can affect the quality of your sleep.
For example, bedrooms are best located on the back side of your home. If that’s not where your bedroom lies, you may be able to change its location if you can swap it with a den, guest room, or the bedroom of your child who is now 30 and living on the other side of the country.
If you cannot relocate your sleep space, however, there are many ways that applying Feng Shui practices can transform your bedroom into the slumber sanctuary you need at this time in your life.
The Main Attraction
Where is your bed? It should be opposite the room’s door, but not directly in line with it. When sitting up in bed, you should have a good view of the door and whatever might come through it. In Feng Shui, this is called the command position.
The headboard needs to be solid, without bars, spindles, open spaces, or shelving, to create a feeling of safety and stability behind you.
Likewise, the headboard should not be under or in front of a window, but against a solid wall. If there’s really no other place to put the bed, hang draperies behind the headboard.
Balance the two sides of the bed, placing similar nightstands and lamps or light fixtures on either side. Do this even if you sleep alone and only use one side of the bed. It’s okay to have some things on or in the nightstands but keep them tidy and clutter-free.
Avoid having footboards, benches, trunks, or anything else at the foot of the bed, and leave enough space to allow for easy walking around the bottom and both sides of the bed. Don’t store anything under the bed and keep that space completely clear.
To make sure the whole room has an easy, natural flow of energy, imagine water flowing in the room’s door. Where does it go? Where does it get stuck or diverted? Do any sharp edges jut into the flow?
Place the furniture so that the imaginary water flows smoothly into and around the room and remove any sharp edges facing the bed or the door.
Make sure the door opens fully, with nothing behind it that can keep it from opening all the way. If there’s no door on your bathroom or closet, put up a full-length curtain to cover the opening.
Bedroom colors should be soft, not bold. In Feng Shui, this means more yin than yang energy, creating a calm, relaxed feeling. Warm earth tones, pastels, creamy tans, and neutrals are good choices.
Look at your walls, window coverings, bed linens, art on the walls, photos, and all the furnishings in the room with an eye for colors that soothe rather than stimulate. Look for soft textures and rounded –rather than sharp – edges.
During the day, natural light is best, while at night you want to block out any light from outdoors and use soft artificial lighting indoors. My absolute favorite discovery in home lighting was finding amber blue-light-blocking light bulbs.
You’ll often find them marketed for nurseries, to help infants sleep, but they help everyone transition from bright light to darkness, and I love them for all bedrooms.
Make sure the content of any artwork you have in your bedroom is also calm and soothing. This is not the place for active scenes. It’s also not the place for family photos, mirrors, or pictures of water.
Ideally, your bed is not under a sloping ceiling or a beam cutting through the overhead area. You can’t always control those kinds of architectural features, but you can usually paint beams to blend in with the ceiling or paint a slope with upward-moving or depth-creating images.
It’s easier to deal with ceiling fans or chandeliers that hang down over the bed by simply removing them, but if that’s not possible, you can use color to make the object blend into the ceiling, such as a white fan against a white ceiling, or replace the blades with ones that are shaped like palm leaves.
Be careful about anything hanging on the wall above your bed, avoiding anything sticking out from the wall (like shelves), anything too large, or anything that has a dark or heavy feel to it.
Lie on your bed, close your eyes and get used to the darkness. Then, open your eyes. What do you see when you wake up? Think about making the first thing your eyes land on every morning very beautiful, calm, peaceful, and lovely. Make sure it’s something that makes you happy.
Do Not Disturb
The bedroom is not the place for electronics. Avoid having televisions, computers, cell phones, or screens of any kind in your bedroom. Your home office or desk also does not belong in your bedroom.
If it’s absolutely necessary to break this rule because you just don’t have any other place to put it, find a way to mask it off from your sleep area. Perhaps you can use a standing screen or create a wall with a curtain, so that you can’t see your desk when you’re in bed.
Make sure your window coverings do a good job of blocking out light from the outside. When you go to bed, close all the room’s doors – to closets, bathrooms, and the rest of the home – creating a cozy cocoon for the night.
The Stuff Dreams Are Made of
Remember that this is your bedroom, so make it a place that you love, where you feel peaceful, calm, relaxed, quiet, and absolutely safe. If you like, you can add an air purifier or essential oil diffuser to fill the room with calming aromas, such as lavender or chamomile.
If this all sounds like a lot, don’t do it all – or don’t do it all at once. When you feel the effects of one change, you will want to do more. Whatever the causes of your senior sleep issues, from worries to hormones, use Feng Shui to create a dreamy place to lay your head at night.
Upon evaluating your bedroom, which features do you think foster sleep? Which do not? Can you make one of the changes mentioned above to your bedroom right now? Are there more you’d like to try? Let’s talk!