Kiwis, like their nocturnal namesake, struggle to sleep at night. According to Dr Karyn O'Keefe, sleep expert and senior researcher of the Sleep/Wake Research Centre at Massey University, twenty-five per cent of us are currently getting less than seven hours a night.

With our increasingly busy, technology- laden lives, sleep may not be a top priority. But given the harmful effects it can have on people's health, including obesity, heart disease, type two diabetes and strokes, it's time to review the importance we place on getting a good night's sleep.

What's the key to a good night's sleep?

One of the key factors in getting restorative rest is the environment you're trying to sleep in. We asked Dr O'Keefe for her tips on how to turn your bedroom into the ultimate sleep haven, rather than just another place where all your stresses from the day lie around you.

Keep it out

• Technology:


Your bedroom should only be used for these two things- sex and sleep. When your bedroom is solely associated with sleep, not work or play, you're more likely to get a good night's rest. Things like phones, laptops, TVs and gaming devices should be removed.

• Noise:

Again, this means no communication or entertainment devices. Such devices can wake you up multiple times during the night. While you may not remember the disruptions, the broken sleep will be why you feel tired and sluggish the next day.

• Light: Don't let the light in. It interacts with our circadian rhythms and tells us we should be awake. So sleeping in a dark space is crucial.

Bring it in

Neutral colours and good bedding are key to creating a great sleep haven. Photo / Sealy
Neutral colours and good bedding are key to creating a great sleep haven. Photo / Sealy

• Comfort

This may seem like an obvious one, but don't forget about things like temperature can make a big difference. Make sure you have enough blankets on the bed in winter to keep you cozy and just a sheet for those hot summer nights.

What does a healthy sleep look like?

• International guidelines state that adults need around seven to nine hours a night.

• They also state that a good sleep does not involve waking frequently, staying awake if you do, or taking a long time to get to sleep.

• Around 9.30 to 12.30 at night is a good window for bedtime. However, if you find going to bed outside of this time helps you to get seven to nine hours sleep, stick with that.

How to improve your sleep

• Routine is key:

Having a regular wake up time - and not sleeping in on weekends - helps to set your body clock so come night time you're ready for a good sleep.

• Exercise: Research shows that if you exercise during the day you are more likely to have a better sleep than if you did not.

• Ditch the afternoon naps: Napping for longer than 40 minutes can mess with your sleep cycles and body clock. On waking you may feel even more exhausted, and find it harder to get to sleep at night.

Style tips for you sleep space

Corban (left) and Alex recommend black-out curtains or blinds, linen bedding and investing in a comfy bed. Photo / Sealy
Corban (left) and Alex recommend black-out curtains or blinds, linen bedding and investing in a comfy bed. Photo / Sealy

Alex Walls of Alex and Corban and The Block NZ knows a thing or two about making a space look good. But since having a new baby, she's also turned her attention to optimising her sleeping space - while keeping it stylish.

Taking inspiration from the concept of rest, Walls recommends choosing natural, peaceful colours and textures, a comfy bed and a clutter-free space.


• Alex says it's worth buying a good quality bed, given we spend almost half of our lives sleeping - or at least trying to. So make the investment - a good bed can last a long time.

• Change to linen. It feels great against your skin and helps to regulate temperature when you sleep.


• Alex recommends colours such as whites, pastels, greens and neutrals for the bedroom to create a relaxing atmosphere.

• Avoid bright "poppy" colours as they tend to wake your mind up rather than help you unwind.


• Pick curtains or blinds that will block out the light. Then, to keep things looking good, add a soft linen curtain over the top.

• Especially if you have a baby, blackout curtains and soft, dim lights will help both of you get a better sleep.

The space

• A cluttered room causes stress - a key contributor to troubled sleep.

• Keep pillows to a minimum. Although they may look cool, too many pillows can be a nuisance. Alex keeps a basket in her room for her spares.

How to find your perfect bed

A spokesperson from Sealy shared their top tips to help you find your perfect bed - arguably the most important item in your sleep haven.

Comfort: Make sure to test out all the beds in store before you buy to find your ultimate comfort level, which will be different for everyone.

Support: This is particularly important, especially since over half of Kiwis have experienced, or are currently experiencing, back problems.

Time for a new bed? On average Kiwis replace their beds every 15 years. But according to the experts, we should be updating our bed every eight to 10 years to ensure optimum comfort and to keep up with the changing needs of your body as it ages.