The Art of Sleep by Lavinia Cernau
Making a home

How to
the art
of sleep

Words by Lucy Siddall.
Photography by Lavinia Cernau & ViSpring.

On perfecting the precious commodity of sleep and
tailoring our spaces for the ultimate rest.

The Art of Sleep - ViSpring Headboard

Berkeley Headboard by ViSpring, Vase (similar here), Fringed Bedspread (similar here), Marble Side Table (similar here) and Ceramic Canister (similar here).

There are few things as fundamental and instrumental to health as sleep. The basic necessity for a good night’s rest is undisputed by governmental and health bodies globally. Yet, for so many, the daily ritual remains hard to achieve, with almost 1 in 5 people in the UK needing more sleep and 74% of adults reporting a decline in quality sleep between 2022 and 2023. We’re desperate for sleep, but it seems elusive and difficult for many to attain.

"You spend a third of your life in bed. Sleep is as essential to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing."

Curious about the concept of sleep hygiene and the tools at our disposal to create the most optimal environment for rest, the Condo spoke to two experts on the topic: Dr Lucy McCann, Honourary Clinical Research Fellow at Wolfson Institute of Population Health and Clare Schifano, Global Marketing Director at Vispring about the necessity of sleep, building good sleep habits and designing a room that aids rest.

“You spend a third of your life in bed. Sleep is as essential to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing”, explains Schifano. “At Vispring, we understand that a good night’s sleep is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle.” Our bedrooms play a foundational role in this daily necessity, and it is paramount that they are as well-designed and optimal for sleep as possible.

The Foundations
of health

A good night’s sleep is the
cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle.

According to McCann, adults need “seven to nine hours” of sleep per night - a suggestion that clinicians, academics and health practitioners across the country reinforce. Yet, on average, British adults only get 5.91 hours. Naturally, our environments deeply impact this number, and minor aesthetic and practical adjustments to our bedrooms can dramatically aid our sleep goals.

However, it’s not just the number of hours we are asleep that matters; the quality of our sleep is also crucial. McCann describes good-quality sleep as “being able to fall asleep relatively quickly, not frequently waking up and being comfortable in bed.”

Both McCann and Schifano agree the bed and mattress you sleep in and on are fundamental and suggest investing in the highest quality version you can afford. If you are considering a new mattress, Schifano insists on “trying a bed physically so you can make an informed decision”, ensuring you select the right one.

The Art of Sleep - ViSpring

A beautiful sanctuary of calm, featuring ViSpring's Herald Superb Mattress and Prestige Divan, Armchair by Folk, Hex Side Table (similar here) and Vase (similar here).

The Art of Sleep - ViSpring
The Art of Sleep by Lavinia Cernau
The Art of Sleep by Lavinia Cernau

Also, Vispring suggests experimenting with “different combinations” of mattresses. The options are wide and varied, so trying as many options as possible is crucial to ensure you select the correct one. To guarantee the best solution, explore “spring tension, firmness, and size”, Schifano advises. “Test each bed for at least 10 minutes and try to get into your normal sleeping position, then turn over a couple of times to see if it feels right.” Investing time in this pursuit is paramount, and it will ultimately pay off in a significant way. “The key to a great night’s sleep is finding the position that leaves you refreshed and pain-free. It is not just a matter of personal preference; it’s also a crucial factor in promoting healthy spinal alignment, extending from your hips to your head,” say Vispring, so the mattress you select matters.

"Incorporate neutral colours and soft hues and keep your walls and textiles in a similar colour palette to create a relaxing space."

A bedroom needs to be a calming environment to aid the onset of sleep. Visually, this means creating a space synonymous with relaxation and ease. Where you sleep “should be your sanctuary”, explains Schifano. “A place to escape from the everyday and unwind. Therefore, curating your perfect sleep environment is critical.” Practically, this looks like trying “to avoid bright, directional lighting before bedtime. Instead, use soft bedside and dimmed wall lights to control the gradual brightness.” From an aesthetic perspective, Schifano recommends “incorporating neutral colours and soft hues” in the design of your space. “Keep your walls and textiles in a similar colour palette to create a relaxing space. Your bed should be your haven, offering you the ultimate comfort but equally pleasing to the eye,” she continues.

The Art of Sleep by Lavinia Cernau

Schifano explains: “A stylish and well-planned bedroom that optimises sleep health requires a thoughtful blend of elements. These include selecting a calming colour palette, investing in high-quality bedding, maintaining room temperature, controlling lighting, configuring a functional room layout, incorporating natural elements, and introducing soft textures. Each aspect plays an important role in creating a healthy sleep environment.”

McCann advises consideration of sleep hygiene to help improve sleep. Schifano echoes this sentiment, emphasising that “it is essential to implement positive lifestyle habits” that aid sleep. The first step in this is starting and maintaining a routine. “Going to bed and getting up at the same time both during the week and at weekends. Regularity is one of the best things you can do,” says McCann. Also, pay attention to the temperature of your bedroom and ensure it’s not too hot. “Our bodies are designed to sleep at a lower core temperature than our environment. The research shows that 18℃ is optimal.” “A bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet”, adds Schifano.

“Avoid phones and try to make your bedroom as dark as possible”, notes McCann. Exposure to darkness “increases melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep”, so a dark room is essential. Lastly, be mindful of caffeine throughout the day and alcohol in the evening, as “just one glass disrupts your sleep by 10%”, which is significant. Schifano adds that smartphones and tablets are “some of the biggest contributors to disrupted sleep”. Therefore, she continues, “Limiting the use of these devices to at least 45 minutes before you want to go to sleep can go a long way in improving your ability to sleep.”

Having a clear, clean and tidy space plays a significant role in aiding sleep. Schifano suggests “clearing your room of clutter and investing in good storage to ensure the space is as minimal as possible.”

"If you’re laying in bed and can’t sleep, the best thing to do is get up and physically leave the bedroom."

Vispring recommends doing all you can to “clear the mind of distractions”. Finding a way to “wind down” before bed can support this and prove helpful. McCann suggests “meditations”, and Vispring says “a gentle bedtime exercise routine” can promote sleep. “A recent study has revealed exercise that does not raise your adrenaline too much could be a great addition to your night-time routine. A few low-impact moves and some full-body stretches could help your body wind down before bed,” suggests Schifano.

The Art of Sleep - ViSpring

Achilles Headboard by ViSpring, Havisham Lamp by Porta Romana, Bobbin Sidetable (similar here).

Timing is also essential. “Only physically go to bed when you go to sleep. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that spending a lot of time in bed, relaxing or reading, for example, but not sleeping affects how quickly you fall asleep,” adds Dr McCann. Also, “if you’re laying in bed and can’t sleep, the best thing to do is get up and physically leave the bedroom.”

A good night's sleep is a delicate balance between routine, personal preferences, space design, aesthetics and mattress type. Finding our ultimate combination of these varied ingredients can be challenging, but the benefits of searching far outweigh the frustrations and difficulties of poor sleep. The science is clear: whatever that looks like for us as individuals, we must prioritise this part of our daily rituals as our health depends on it now and later in life.