What’s Happening in Your Bedroom?

Chances are that your bedroom is not simply a room with a bed.

According to a recent study, our traditional sleep spaces are becoming multifunctional in response to our growing spatial needs.

A team led by UNSW Sydney surveyed 304 Australian residents of different demographics, including age and gender, about their bedroom space and sleep habits.

Around 40% said they used their bedroom as their living space, while 61% said they preferred to use it just for sleep. Age, occupation and bedroom location all affect the way we use our sleep spaces.

Given that we spend around a third of our lives asleep, our bedrooms – and how we use them – are relatively unexplored from a design perspective.

“We spend most of our time at home in the bedroom, but its use is expanding beyond its primary function as a sleep environment,” says Dr Demet Dincer, lead author of the study and interior architecture lecturer from UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture. “These initial findings help us better understand the different uses of the contemporary sleep environment and inform better design strategies for these spaces.”

A multifunctional sleep environment

Respondents living in share housing were more likely to use their bedroom as a work area, while those living in a studio apartment were more likely to use their sleep environment as a shared space.

Among the other activities in the sleep environment, watching TV was the highest activity, followed by reading, studying or working, eating and then exercising.

“Almost half of our respondents said their bedroom was their living space, even though most don’t prefer that. However, we can’t change the reality that our domestic spaces, including the bedroom space, are shrinking and must accommodate more functions,” Dr Dincer says.

As space, particularly in cities, becomes more of a premium, Dr Dincer says we need to rethink the different boundaries affecting the use of our sleep environments.

“Bedrooms are one of our most private spaces. But how much we can personalise them is very limited in Australia, particularly for renter-occupiers,” Dr Dincer says. “

While working from the comfort of your bedroom may seem luxurious, you may actually end up ruining your sleep. Worse still, the relaxing environment of your bedroom may become tainted by the stress triggers from your working day.

If you must use your bedroom as a workspace, consider how you can separate the work area from the sleep area, ensuring that when you head off to bed, you can no longer see your computer, notebooks or phone.

A room divider – whether it’s wood-slatted partitions, upholstered screens, frosted glass walls, or a simple pegboard, there are plenty of options. You might even make a conscious decision to change the environment with lighting or music.

Whatever you do, it’s important to be vigilant about separating your work-life from your personal life. It’s the only way to get rest so that you can maximise your waking hours at work.

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