8 Ways to Create a Healthier Home, According to Science
Picking out new dinnerware or buying fresh linens might seem like a purely aesthetic decision, but a string of studies suggest the way you style your home can have a subtle but powerful impact on your health. From the color of your plates to where you charge your phone, we chart the small tweaks you can make to turn your space in to a healthy home. Scroll down for eight easy changes to make at home to boost your health and well-being.
White chinaware might be the most common dining choice, but studies suggest it’s not the healthiest. Researchers at Cornell University Food and Brand Lab tested the link between plate color and serving size at a New York dinner party. Guests were given a red or white bowl and asked to serve themselves a tomato- or cream-based pasta. Diners who ate white cream pasta from a white plate served themselves 22% more than those who ate from a dish in a contrasting hue.
Confused? It’s simple. Portions look smaller when they appear against a contrasting color. Something as easy as switching your crockery could have a huge impact on how much you eat, without you even noticing.
In the depths of winter, the thought of a warm, cozy bed can be what gets you through the day, but turning the thermostat down while you sleep can have a big impact on your metabolism. Experts from the National Institutes of Health found that sleeping in a cooler room can cause your body to burn more calories while you sleep. It might sound too good to be true, but changing your sheets to lightweight linen or turning down the thermostat could better your health overnight.
We know dirty linens can be a hotbed for bacteria and dust mites, but how often should you wash them? Philip Tierno, a microbiologist and pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine, says you can only use bath towels a few times before bacteria breeds. “If you can dry it completely, no more than three times max,” he told Tech Insider. As for bed linen, a weekly hot water cycle is enough to rid sheets of dust mites. If you have allergies, wash your sheets at a minimum of 130 degrees Fahrenheit for a thorough clean.
If you’re styling a kitchen or dining room, consider this: Researchers at University of Central Florida have found that introducing a mirror to eating areas can influence you to make healthier choices. Students who ate indulgent food in a room with a mirror said they didn’t find it as delicious or satisfying. Researchers believe it’s because mirrors force us to view ourselves objectively. "A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance," said researcher Ata Jami in a statement. “[It] helps them to judge themselves and their behaviors in a same way that they judge others.”
If your bedtime routine consists of browsing Pinterest on your tablet at night and checking your phone on first rise, we’ve got news for you: The light emitted from your devices is wreaking havoc with your internal clock. A Harvard Medical School study found that using your phone or tablet at night throws off your circadian rhythm, leading to a bad night’s sleep.
Create a charging station outside your bedroom so your phone and tablet won’t interrupt your sleep pattern. If the thought of cell phone separation gives you nightmares, try an app like Twilight, which masks the blue light with a warm filter, allowing you to use the device at any hour.
This healthy lifestyle trick is as simple as it gets: Switching to smaller plates and bowls can seriously reduce the chances of overeating. A recent study found that halving your plate size can cause you to eat 30% less. What’s even better is that study participants still reported feeling full because they weren’t actually aware their portions had changed. When it comes to glassware, science says tall, narrow glasses are best. Short, wide glasses give the illusion of containing less liquid, so you’re more likely to overpour.
The latest influx of indoor plant hangers and geometric pot stands are enough to entice us to add greenery to our homes, but according to NASA, houseplants are also a great way to improve air quality. Chrysanthemums were named the best at absorbing pollutants, making them ideal for those who suffer from allergies. Styling your home with greenery can also lead to a good night's sleep. Since plants give off oxygen, placing them on a bedside table can be a great way to boost your well-being as you sleep.
We turn to architects to craft buildings and interior designers to style spaces, but what about sound? Sound consultant Julian Treasure says it’s time for interior sound designers. “It’s about designing not appearance but experience, so that we have spaces that are fit for purpose, that improve our quality of life, our health, and well-being,” he said in a TED talk.
Sound is especially important for those living in cities. Traffic noise and living under a flight path can have serious health side effects, including learning issues and even cardiac arrest. Use music as a de-stressor, and create a home playlist to relax your mind and drown out street noises after hours.
What healthy changes have you made to your home? Tell us in the comments below.