The Best Color to Paint Your Bedroom for Better Sleep, According to Sleep and Design Experts

updated Jul 24, 2023
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Credit: Viv Yapp

Choosing a paint color is about so much more than just aesthetics. When you’re flipping through paint swatches, it’s also important to consider how you want to feel in that room. Take your bedroom, for example. While your personal space is a great opportunity to showcase your unique personality, it’s just as important that your design choices — including paint colors — should be functional, too. Especially when your goal is to create a sanctuary for rest and relaxation.

Sue Peacock, a UK-based psychologist who specializes in sleep, says how a room looks can directly impact how you feel. “Colors may affect you psychologically, including your ability to sleep,” she says. “Some colors may evoke relaxation, while others stimulate your mind and make you more awake.”

While certain colors may align with psychological principles for inducing rest, not everyone experiences colors the same way. For example, Tamra Fuscaldo, the director of interior design at MA Design, says neurodiverse individuals may process harsher hues more intensely, in a way that stimulates the autonomic nervous system. Your body and mind are unique, and the goal is to choose colors that feel soothing to you individually. “It’s important to think of bedrooms as a ‘sanctuary space,’ where we feel safe and protected,” Fuscaldo says.

Quick Overview

What Colors to Paint Your Bedroom

  • Experts agree that blue is the best color for a bedroom, especially since research shows it can have calming effects.
  • Green is another relaxing runner-up for its connotations with nature.
  • In terms of bedroom colors to avoid, overly bright or neon colors can have the opposite effect, making it difficult to fall asleep.

The Best Bedroom Paint Color: Blue

While your personal preference certainly plays a role in what’ll help you relax before bed, there’s one color that stands out above the rest if your goal is a good night’s sleep: blue. “Not only is it more muted, but blue tones also tend to have more calming effects on the brain,” Peacock says. For example, blue has been shown in research to reduce respiration and heart rate, which is great for drifting off to sleep. While all shades of blue can evoke a tranquil atmosphere, Peacock suggests sticking with lighter shades on your bedroom walls for the best sleep-inducing effect.

Sleep psychologist and sleep coach Katherine Hall, who works with Somnus Therapy, agrees. Light blue — like Benjamin Moore’s Summer Shower in the bedroom pictured above — is scientifically associated with creating feelings of calmness and serenity, she says, adding, “Studies have also shown that households with blue bedrooms sleep the best compared to any other color!”

Credit: Bethany Nauret

The Best Runner-Up Bedroom Paint Color: Green

While blue is the number one choice for cultivating a relaxing environment, another color isn’t too far off: Because green can be reminiscent of nature, Peacock says it may put you in a relaxing mood. Opt for soft and natural sage green tones to lull you to sleep, like the California bedroom pictured above coated in Sagey by Sherwin-Williams. Or, choose a blue-green option to combine that ocean-like tranquility with those natural vibes. 

The Best Blues and Greens for Your Space

Not all blues and greens will have the same psychological effect, so it’s important to choose paint colors that actually look and feel peaceful. Alice Chiu, a San Francisco-based interior designer and principal at Miss Alice Designs, calls out Sherwin-Williams’ Hazel 6471, a beautiful shade of blue-green, as one that is perfect for the bedroom. Not only will the color’s soothing tones help you unwind for bedtime; it can also help your bedroom feel larger because it naturally brightens up the space with its vibrancy. 

Not totally ready to shift gears from a neutral to a color? Aim for a neutral with bluish tones. As an alternative, Chiu suggests Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl OC-52, a clean and refreshing gray that can display a blue or green undertone depending on the natural light in your bedroom and the surrounding furniture and materials. “It’s the perfect gray that works with any style from traditional to modern, creating a relaxing and calm look and feel,” she says.

Amy Peltier, an interior designer and owner of Peltier Interiors, says her favorite soothing green is Benjamin Moore’s Hollingsworth Green HC-141. “This color evokes images of gardens, grass, and nature,” she says.

Are There Any Colors Interior Experts Would Avoid Using in the Bedroom? 

Below, design and color experts weigh in on paint colors they typically caution against, but note that there are not set “rules” when it comes to your own personal taste. Take these as general guidelines, and if there’s a certain shade you love for your bedroom, use it!

  • Red. As a rule of thumb, experts believe it’s best to avoid overly vibrant colors in bedrooms, including loud reds. (Mr. Big’s bedroom wall in the original “Sex and the City”? We’re looking at you.) Hall says the brain associates red tones with intensity, passion, war, and danger, which aren’t exactly conducive to sleep. “Research suggests that red can increase your fight-or-flight instinct, making you more alert and aware of your surroundings,” Peacock adds.
  • Orange. “There is quite a bit of science behind how color affects the brain,” says Lisa Rickert, founder and creative director of Jolie Home. “If you’re choosing a paint color for a bedroom and actually want to sleep, I would stick with muted blues and greens. Colors to be sure to avoid are bright yellows, reds, and orange.”
  • Bright green. Linda Hayslett, principal at LH.Designs, agrees that bright or neon colors may also be too stimulating when you’re winding down for sleep. She specifically cautions against shades like lime green or highlighter yellow, since these would likely “keep you up at night even if the lights were turned out.”
  • Brown. While dark grays and browns might feel earthy at first, Peacock says they can evoke feelings of uncertainty that may make sleep difficult.
  • Anything saturated. ” It’s no wonder Smoke 2122-40, Collingwood OC-28, and Wickham Gray HC-171 are some of Benjamin Moore’s popular bedroom color choices,” says Hannah Yeo, Benjamin Moore Color and Design Expert. “These light, muted hues promote relaxation and comfort, setting the mood for a good night’s sleep. Bright, saturated colors, on the other hand, can trigger a sense of alertness. Reserve the vivid hues for statement walls or for rooms that require high energy instead.”
  • Anything that doesn’t work for you. Ultimately, listen to your body’s cues.”I don’t think there are any hard or fast rules for choosing a bedroom color,” says Jamie Davis, co-founder and owner of Portola Paints & Glazes. “Everyone is different, and a color that might give you a headache could make someone else super happy.” Plus, at the end of the day, you can always paint over it if you don’t totally love the look and feel of your bedroom.