In Sweden, it’s not only the scientists who investigate healthy sleep. A well-known giant in the kingdom’s furniture industry is also making sure that the subject does not remain a dormant phenomenon.
In 2018, the team working with Swedish scientist Torbjörn Åkerstedt, from the Stockholm Karolinska Institute, published, in the Journal of Sleep Research, the results of a study, involving 44,000 people, which looked at the relationship between length of sleep and mortality. Their conclusion: catching up on missed sleep, for example at the weekend, can compensate for a sleep deficit that has accrued during the week. In the long term, say the researchers, lack of sleep does not imply an increased risk of early death, providing that people catch up later on sleep they have missed. But it is not only these Swedish scientists who are preoccupied by the puzzling implications of sleep on health. Sandra Schwertfeger, Country Interior Design Manager at IKEA Germany, has no doubts that: “the significance of sleep for health and well-being continues to be underestimated.”
A furniture giant with a vision for improved sleep
According to Schwertfeger, during what they call the ‘home visits’ undertaken by IKEA, lots of people complain about disturbed nights. Frequently cited causes include: the need to be constantly available, the pressure to achieve and general stress. “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for people – and that includes a good night’s sleep,” says Schwertfeger. That is why, with the slogan “No bedroom too small for big dreams”, IKEA have been developing some appropriate furnishing solutions. Bed linen, for example: which needs to be gentle on the skin, hard wearing and breathable. And to achieve this, the furniture giant has opted for cotton with extra long fibres.
Light, too, has an illuminating role to play in the bedroom: more precisely, a lack of light. “The darker the bedroom, the better the quality of sleep,” explains Schwertfeger. The aim is to tell the brain: “now it’s time to sleep”. And one way of doing that is to reduce the amount of light – particularly the proportion of blue light. Be it dimmable ceiling lights, curtains, blackout blinds or intelligent curtain fabrics – for bright minds, there are few limits to the possible ways of darkening rooms!
Pillows also fall within the international giant’s focus on improving sleep. Whereas the layman just lays his head on the pillow and closes his eyes, the IKEA designers know that the correct density and size of pillow to support the spine are just as important for well-being as a good mattress. According to Schwertfeger, the rule of thumb is that the pillow should continue the natural line of the spine from the lower back to the head. When the nape of the neck and the shoulders are relaxed and the airways are open, then we can say that we’ve got the right pillow.
“The purpose of textiles is not only decorative, they are also functional,” explains IKEA design expert Schwertfeger, who will reveal more details of the furniture giant’s sleep-related concepts at the upcoming Heimtextil. Her talk will be part of the ‘Sleep! The Future Forum’ in the Foyer of Hall 11.0. The key notion is: ‘What can a good night’s sleep do for your life and what can your home do for your sleep?’ And, she suggests, IKEA’s characteristic ‘democratic design’ also has a role to play here. Their efforts in the bedroom department have clearly been well-received by their customers: for the business year, ending 31 August 2019, IKEA announced an increase in worldwide sales of 5 per cent to some € 36.7 billion.
Here you can find more information on the key theme of ‘Sleep’ at Heimtextil and the complete programme for ‘Sleep! The Future Forum’.