We can all struggle with sleep sometimes, but if you find yourself tossing and turning regularly at night, it may be that your sleeping environment isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep. Making some small adjustments could make all the difference to your sleep quality.
Light is one of the biggest factors to affect our sleeping pattern. That’s because our eyes have receptors which sense the light and communicate with the brain to tell us whether it’s day (awake) or night (sleep) time.
All light has a stimulatory impact on the brain, and reduces the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, however, artificial light in particular interferes with our natural body clock (known as the circadian rhythm) and can interrupt our sleep pattern.
The blue light emitted from screens such as our phones or laptops is particularly harmful to sleep, because it is emitted at a different wavelength than natural light and suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other wavelength of light. So exposure to blue light should be limited before sleep.
- Gradually dim the lights in your house in the evening to prepare your body for sleep
- Turn off all devices with screens at least an hour before bedtime
- If this is not possible dim the brightness on the screen or use an app that filters out the blue wavelength of light
- Ensure there are no flashing lights or digital clocks emitting light in your bedroom
- Use blackout blinds
- Block hallway light using a draught excluder
- Wear an eye mask.
Excessive noise is a cause of sleep disorders, and is potentially the most important factor contributing to a poor bedroom environment. However noise can work to either disturb or soothe your sleep.
Alarms going off outside, or the hum from your heating, for example, can become irritating, while white noise and some types of music have been found to aid sleep by blocking out distracting sounds and reducing the level of stimulus that sudden sounds have on the brain in the night. Not all current literature is in agreement that white noise is beneficial to improving sleep quality however, so it should only be considered on an individual basis.
- Try listening to a mindfulness track such as a body scan to help calm you before sleep
- Trial some low-level, soothing music until you find a track or genre that works for you
- Remove any distractions such as pets from your room at night
- Pop in ear plugs before you drift off to eliminate environmental noise.
Bedroom temperature changes generally have a slower and more progressive impact on the body, so the impact this has on sleep is harder to quantify, but can still be a significant factor in poor sleep quality. To get the best sleep quality a constant and comfortable bedroom temperature should be maintained throughout the night, ideally between 15–17 degrees Celsius.
- Allow your body to adjust to the temperature of the bedroom prior to going to sleep
- Monitor bedroom temperature, and maintain this within 15-–17 degrees Celcius if possible.
Last updated Wednesday 21 September 2022
First published on Friday 25 November 2016