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Saying Good Night to Arthritis

Does your pain level worsen with fluctuations in the weather? Mine sure does. When the weather turns extremely cold or extremely hot (104 here last week!) my pain increased dramatically. I’ve learned to counteract those periods by preparing for them in advance and you can too.

Bedroom Design Carter Kay and Nancy Hoof

Maintaining a consistent exercise schedule, staying on the arthritis diet six out of seven days, keeping up with your morning green juice, and maintaining a highly functional home all help you to stay on top of the curves degenerative illness throws your way.

Your bedroom is of particular importance during times like these.


What makes you feel super pampered on days when you have an inordinate amount of pain? Cool, cotton sheets with the highly prized, high thread count of course!

I love white. White paper towels, white napkins, white t.p., white towels, and white sheets. White is clean looking and versatile. And I love the faint smell of lavender on my linens. When my sheets are freshly changed and smell good, all seems well with the world. A cozy bed is really an investment in yourself because you and your mate are the only ones who will enjoy these small luxuries. It’s a nice way to express “self-care”: to make you feel balanced and well.

The softest, most comfortable sheets are Egyptian cotton or Pima cotton. A 400 thread count is sufficient for a quality, comfortable bed sheet. Anything higher is overkill. Remember there is more to sheets than just thread count. If the cotton is poor quality they will wrinkle. And who has time to iron their sheets or hang them outside to damp dry.


Most beds benefit from the following components: two weights of comforters (one light weight for warm weather and one heavier weight for cold weather), one decorative duvet cover (it’s like a giant pillow case that protects your comforter), two foam pillows for bolstering, two decorative pillow shams, two down or synthetic-down sleeping pillows, two decorative rectangular throw pillows (also called kidney pillows because they support your kidneys when you sit against them), one throw blanket for over the foot of the bed, and one bed skirt. If you don’t have a head board, consider getting an upholstered one. They are functional additions especially if you enjoy reading in bed. Most designers can have these made-to-order for you. They are available in a wide range of prices and styles and are comparatively priced to wood or wicker ones.


There are many options for window coverings. In the bedroom your main concern will be light and privacy control. These issues are best addressed before aesthetics but I know… we all want our bedroom to look pretty too! The good news is one doesn’t have to preclude the other.

In the master bedroom, you want to plan on at least one room darkening treatment “layer”. These could be lined Roman shades, lined woven shades, wooden blinds or shutters. I know you probably don’t care for fabric window treatments but the hard truth is your home doesn’t feel done without them. The noise level without window coverings doesn’t lend itself to a very comforting environment and with arthritis we are all about comfort!

For those of us with chronic pain, a good night’s sleep is IMPERATIVE.  Believe it when someone tells you “the darker the room the better”! I didn’t know what I was missing until I had this huge game changer in my own home. Check into an expensive hotel and see what I mean.

To ensure darkness do what we call in the industry an ‘outside mount’.  If you mount them inside the window frame, the gaps will allow light to seep through.  Add an additional inch or two in width for better light control.

Fabric treatments don’t have to be busy. You will grow to love them, as I have, tailored and tasteful.


Table lamps on the night stands are standard fare. Putting them on dimmer switches is a nice, ambient touch. Dimmer switches for lamps are available at many lighting stores. The lamp dimmer concept is great because you simply plug the dimmer cord into the wall and plug the lamp into the dimmer cord. In this way, you can control the level of light as well as access the dimmer cord’s on/off switch without even sitting up in bed. You will love how easy it is! No more twisting your neck and shoulder!


Choosing a mattress is a matter of personal requirements but my favorite, most luxuriant night sleep is on the Simmons Heavenly Bed System pillow top mattress and box spring, the one Westin Hotels use. The mattress thickness is about 12 or 13 inches and the box spring, about 8 to 9 inches. 


When decorating your own bedroom, as in all decorating for chronic pain keep in mind what the room is for: relaxation. Reds, oranges, and other vibrant colors are not conducive to this and for some reason consumers LOVE a red bedroom. Color theory is a topic unto itself but follow these easy tips to understand how you can make color work well for you in your bedroom.

Keep the amount of colors in your bedroom to a minimum. Stick with restful colors like greens, blues, and violet. I know you love black, white and gray but honestly there is no comfort to be found there. White is sterile. Black is maudlin. Gray is … well… gray. It’s not a color and therefore it’s not going to nurture you anytime soon. However, using black, white and gray as back drops and accents is an opportunity to create a beautiful, highly comforting design scheme. Muted versions of warm colors like blush and light flesh tones also work nicely if chosen well. When doing rooms with neutral color schemes, try to think outside the box. Neutral design schemes in formal settings have been overdone. Instead, add interest to your neutral scheme with rustic antiques and textures, as seen in Swedish and Belgian design schemes.

In the bedroom, less is more. Incorporate tactile elements like soft throws and pillows, pre-warmed sheets in the winter, and light dimming options for bedtime. The quality of furnishings in the master bedroom should be notably better than in the childrens’ rooms and guests’ rooms. Choose quality fabrics, original artwork (or good reproductions), and unique furniture and accessories. Keep surfaces clean and dust free. Enjoy your retreat and remember what it’s there for, to replenish your tired spirit. 

My new book has a whole chapter devoted  to making your bedroom a soul soothing place for healing! For a free chapter click here:  “Pain Free Decorating: Creating Nurturing Spaces for WomenWith Arthritis” .

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree’