Create a harmonious space for sleep with intention, principle, and arrangement. 

We’ve all heard the term “feng shui” used in a hokey context, but what IS feng shui, actually? And can it help your bedroom? 

Overview

Feng shui (meaning “wind water” in Mandarin, to give the sense of the flow of energy) is the traditional Chinese practice of harmonizing individuals with their environments. Originally, the practice was often used to situate important buildings, such as houses and tombs, so that good energy could flow through the land and bring blessings. 

In contemporary feng shui, any number of tools or ideas can be used to bring harmony to a space, such as balancing the five elements (fire, water, wood, earth, and metal) to achieve certain effects or using color to influence mood. Different masters often interpret room arrangements differently, but ultimately what’s most important is how the energy in the room feels to you!

As feng shui migrated to the west in the late 20th century, some of its principles changed to fit Western audiences (to the critique of some, who call it commercialized and a glamorized form of interior decorating). However, some basic principles of feng shui can help everyone create a more harmonious, calming space. As we’ve said in plenty of articles before (such as sleeping for shift work), routine and a calm and clean environment are so critically important to getting good sleep, no matter when you sleep. So the goal of feng shui does happen to align with getting better sleep!

In feng shui, as with all practices, you can go deep (some experts say that sleeping under exposed beams will cut your body’s energy in half and make you sick; counteract this by stringing up two flutes, open side up, with red ribbons above your bed). But you don’t have to follow every rule to find inspiration to create a peaceful, balanced space of your own. 

Here are a few ideas, derived from feng shui principles, that can help you create a harmonious, balanced, and calming sleep environment: 

1. Establish a commanding position

According to Simply Serene, a founding principle in feng shui is that of the “commanding position” in your room. The commanding position is the place in any given room, on the opposite wall from the door, where you have the widest view of your room and, therefore, who is entering/leaving the space. It puts you in charge of the room and, therefore, of the energy that enters and leaves the room. 

In most bedrooms, the bed is placed in the commanding position – this centers the room’s function as that for rest or sleep. For a workplace, like an office, a desk might be placed in the commanding position instead. 

Try placing your bed centrally on the wall opposite the door – but not directly in line with the door. Putting your bed in the direct line of the door, according to feng shui, puts it in a strong “draft” of energy, creating unrest and distraction.

2. Declutter, especially beneath the bed

Feng shui is all about flow and, according to Homes and Gardens, having under-bed storage can prevent energy from flowing throughout your room and properly rejuvenating you during sleep. 

But taking out under-bed storage is not the only way to declutter – sleep experts and feng shui agree that a visually cluttered space raises stress levels

So reduce the amount of clutter in your room and find standing storage places (such as in a closet or shelves in another room) to put items. Be mindful of the items you keep in your room – especially electronic devices, which can also disrupt sleep – and make sure each item has a designated place. 

3. Symmetry

Balance and harmony go hand-in-hand in feng shui – and a simple way to create balance in a room is to add some symmetry. 

If possible, place your bed centrally so that you can approach it from both sides. Have nightstands on both sides of your bed and, if you like the effect, you can add symmetry in smaller details like pillows, lamps, and decorative items. 

4. Connection to Nature

Traditional feng shui advocated having representatives of all five elements (fire, water, wood, earth, and metal) in a room to bring balance. This could mean adding a plant to your room, soothing natural art, natural colors or neutrals to complement other natural elements, 

Now, you don’t literally have to have actual fire or actual water in your bedroom at all times to create peace (in fact, that might do the opposite). Something red or warm might be enough to stand for fire. And while running water might be distracting, perhaps incorporating cool colors could simulate a calming effect. 

A great way to incorporate nature is through an object’s color. Some experts advocate neutral colors, others advocate using colors from nature. Some experts might even use a feng shui wheel like this one, which describes the related elements, directions, and colors, to help you manifest certain blessings.