Sleep Environment

Although “sleep environment” sounds very impersonal, it is the best way to describe the place you sleep in.

Everything that you surround yourself with, while getting ready for sleep and while sleeping can be considered part of your sleep environment.

Your sleep environment is very important for your sleep, because it can either promote good quality sleep or it can prevent you from getting enough sleep.

A beneficial sleep enviroment is an environment that tends to improve your sleep, in duration and quality.

It prevents you from exposure to bright lights or unexpected loud noise, reduces the amount of distractions preventing your from getting to sleep and provides a good climate where your body can relax and recover during sleep.

A good sleep environment helps you to get to sleep easily and lets you sleep through the night without interruptions.

On this page you can get everything you need to check your personal sleep environment, make the appropriate adjustments and upgrade your sleep environment according with your sleep.

Want to get started immediately? Download your free bonuses, i.e. a checklist to setup your sleep environment right here.

 

Lights

– why they’re bad for your sleep and what to do.

 

Light has a very important effect on your sleep, because your body uses light as a signal to wake up. For hundreds of years we were living according to the natural light-dark-cycle of nature. Waking up and being active when it’s light and going to bed when it’s getting dark.

Since a couple of years this has drastically changed. Even when according to nature it should get dark, it isn’t getting dark at all. Street lights are shining through our windows and inside our room lights from electronics sends our bodies signals to stay awake.

The lights from your electronics are especially bad, since it’s mostly blue light, which suppresses melatonin (a sleep hormone) production.   Getting sunlight in the morning and during the day is almost as important as having complete darkness during the night, because it helps your body to adjust and reset it’s circadian rhythm, making your alert and awake during the day and getting into sleep mode at night.

A good sleep environment prevents you from the exposure to bright lights that will mess with your circadian rhythm.

Install f.lux

Installing and using f.lux is one of the best thing you can do to avoid the blue light of screen. It filters that blue light out and makes your screen appear orange. Get it here.

Make your room pitch dark

Chances are high that the lights disturbing your sleep come from the outside. In that case: Make your room pitch dark. Either close your blinds completely, or if you have no blinds, get black out curtains. Hotels use them as well, so their guests have a good sleep.

Wear a sleep mask

If you don’t have blinds and there are a lot of lights (inside and outside) to fix, a sleep mask will be the easiest solution there is. It might take a while to get used to it, but you’ll be sleeping in complete darkness. You can also use it for over night airplane flights.

Get dimmers and other lightbulbs

Installing dimmers or getting new light bulbs are beneficial as well. If you spend the time before going to bed in full brightness, according to studies, has similar negative effects than using your screen.
Questions:
My alarm clock is shining through the night - what should I do?

This is a problem many people face, but it is easy to solve. Either cover it up, so no light is shining through or get a new alarm clock that only shines when you push a button.

If you want to wear a sleep mask the problem will solve itself.

I don't know how bright my lights are - what should I do?

If you aren’t dealing with bulbs on a regular basis, you probably won’t know how much LUX they have. Lux is the unit for brightness (light amount per square meter). Thanks to technology that’s not a problem at all. There are many light meter apps (also free ones) you can download from the App or Play Store. They use the camera in your phone to measure the brightness. A bedroom should ideally have around 150 lux.

 

 

Noise

– The difference between bad and good noise for your sleep.

 

Our sensitivity to sounds decreases while we are asleep, but varies from person to person. While some people could sleep on the take off lane of an airport, others will get awake when they hear a feather fall. Sleep interruptions due to sounds are not only annoying, but also most of them are unnecessary. When you wake up during the night, it’s not because of the noise itself, it’s more because of the sudden change in the noises your hear.

In general you can distinguish between alarming and relaxing sounds. While alarming sounds are waking you up, i.e. somebody’s screaming outside, relaxing sounds will help you sleep better, for some people this is the sound of rain.

You can use your own relaxing sounds to get to sleep easier as well as to cover up unnecessary alarming sounds, i.e. the person screaming outside.

There is a wide range of apps available, i.e. noisli.com (free) or brain.fm (paid). I use brain.fm since it has already pre made sounds that are scientifically proven to make you sleep better (it works). They also have sounds for relaxing and focus.

Of course you can train yourself to sleep in any environment, but due to evolutionary reasons, sounds tend to wake us up easily. Don’t have bad sleep, because of unnecessary interruptions due to noise!

Close the windows

Since moving in the city centre, outside noise has been a huge part of my night. Car chases, screaming drunk college students and other fun things. The best tip is to close the windows. It has been a huge relieve. I love to sleep with an open window, especially in the summer, but constant sleep interruptions were too much.

Check alarms & reminders

Even if you put your phone in airplane mode, it might still wake you up with reminders or falsely set alarms. Make sure to mute your phone or to double check your alarms and reminders.

Put your phone in airplane mode

Did you ever drunk call somebody unnecessarily? Congratulations, you ruined their sleep. It did it a few times and I’m not proud of it. To avoid this happening to me, I put my phone in airplane mode each and every night. It’s perfect. No sleep disrupting messages or calls anymore. (I only make exceptions if somebody is going out and wants to call me if there is an emergency.)

Snoring partner

Since I’m not a doctor, I don’t want to give any medical advice, but snoring can be a danger to your health. If you or your partner are snoring you might want to consult a doctor about that. Besides that I don’t know of any proper solution for snoring. If it is really disturbing your sleep every night, you might want to think about sleeping in separate rooms. I’ve learned that this is a valid option and strengthened relationships that were already driven apart. Insufficient sleep is a huge stressor. Don’t let it destroy your relationship!

Wear earplugs.

If your windows are thin and you can hear everything and maybe there is a lot of noise inside your building as well you might want to try wearing earplugs. Some people love them, some people hate them. If you belong to the first group this might be the best option for you!

Noisy electronics

Interruptions are really bad and annoying especially if they are unnecessary. Since there are probably more electronics than humans in a household, you want to make sure that they are all turned off completely. (One night the pc of my girlfriend started playing a movie. Not funny). Be sure, turn them off!
 
My windows are closed but there is still noise coming through - what should I do?
In case your windows don’t eliminate the noise from outside you have three options: First you could sleep with ear plugs. Try them, if you don’t like them it’s okay. Second you could use a noise machine or a software like brain.fm or noisli.com to create your own sounds and sleep better. Third, you could get new windows, but I usually only recommend this as a last resort, if they need to be exchanged anyway.
 

Temperature

Most bedrooms are warm, but evolution tells you to sleep in a cool room.

 

The temperature we sleep in has a huge impact on our sleep. Often our bedrooms are overheated, which decreases the quality of your sleep and even causes waking up during the night. A bedroom can also be too cold. Although most people sleep better in cooler rooms, a room that is too cold, will make it impossible to sleep, as you will be freezing. If you are waking up during the night feeling either hot or cold you might want to check the temperature in your room and adjust it accordingly.

Adjust your temperature

Most people sleep better in cooler rooms. The usual recommendations are 16-19°C (60-67°F). If you can adjust the temperature easily, try those values and see how you sleep. Experiment with them.

Get thicker/thinner blankets

If you can’t adjust the temperature that good, you can also “regulate” the temperature by choosing thinner or thicker blankets. It’s not an ideal solution, but there is always something you could do.

Open the windows

If it’s too hot in your room, you might think about opening the windows. I know I just told you to keep them closed, but if your are living in a quiet community you might consider this option!
 
 

Humidity

– The hidden cause for bad sleep (and sickness).

 

Humidity is really some hidden thing which in my opinion doesn’t get the proper attention especially when it comes to health. It is really important for your sleep, as well as for your health in general. Of course those two things a connected.

When the humidity in your room is too low, you mucous membranes are usually getting too dry. Since they act a natural defence against bacteria and viruses, but only when they are properly moist, you’re much more susceptible to diseases when your room is too dry, especially if you sleep in it over night.

Too much humidity isn’t good as well. From allergies to infections and even depression is linked to too much indoor humidity. It also favours the formation of mold which can release toxins into the air. Newer research focusing on mold shows that it impacts your health in a negative way, decreasing your mental abilities as well as leading to obesity.

Mold will also cause damage to your home and ideally should be prevented with proper humidity levels.

Ideal humidity in your bedroom is between 40-60%.

Measure the humidity

In order to improve the humidity levels you need to know where they’re at. A good range is between 40-60%. If you are waking up with dry eyes, nose & throat the humidity is probably to low. If you want to be 100% sure, get a hygrometer, which are available from $10. Most of them even contain a thermometer so you can measure the temperature as well.

Use DIY methods to improve the humidity.

If you are just experimenting with different humidity levels you don’t need to make a big investment at first. Long-term, if your humidity isn’t good, such an investment might pay off. To increase the humidity you can i.e. put wet towels on our radiator or you could hang wet laundry in your room and let it dry in there. Plants are supposed to increase the humidity as well. Putting a large bowl of water on your radiator or close to it is also working for some people.

Invest in a humidifier

If the methods mentioned before don’t work you might think about investing in a humidifier. There are great ones out there and many reviews to find the right one. I personally don’t have one, since the humidity is quite good in my room, but I was close to buying one. If you choose to buy one, try to get one that requires less cleaning. In some of them you can put some antibacterial substance in the water, so the cleaning effort gets minimised.
 

Air Quality

– Fresh air is important, especially in your bedroom.

 

Ideally you spend around 7-9 hours in your bedroom and of course you are breathing the air in it. The only other place where you spend so much time is probably your office.

In those places the air you breathe should be of high quality.

Usually our air inside of our rooms is quite bad. Toxins, molds and chemicals are in there and disrupt natural functions of our body if we get too much exposure to them.

Making sure you always ventilate your room before going to bed. This will bring in fresh air. If you live an a polluted area, you might want to invest in an air purifier.

Ventilate your room

Every night before going to sleep you should ventilate your room, unless the air outside is more polluted than inside. This will bring in fresh air and additionally cool down the room.

Get plants.

Plants are great at cleaning the air, but don’t overdo it. One to two plants in your bedroom should be enough. They also brighten up the room. I got a Dracaena & a Benjamini, which are supposed to be very good at cleaning the air from toxins.

Invest in an air purifier

If the area where you live is extremely polluted, you might want to think about investing in an air purifier. Polluted air will make you sick also affect your sleep in a negative way.
 

Bed – Mattress

– Don’t settle for a bad mattress.

 

Your bed and your mattress, as well as your sheets are very important. Make sure your bed is big enough for you, otherwise your sleep will suffer.

Regarding the mattress the preferences vary a lot. I recently read that a harder mattress is better, since it supports your spine, but I’m not sure about that. Ideally you should get a mattress made of natural materials, since the chemicals in the mattress can cause allergies and even asthma.

If you are waking up with back- or hip pain in the morning, it’s usually a sign that your mattress isn’t ideal for you, unless you sleep in a weird position.

 

Distractions

– Unless you want bad sleep, get rid of the distractions in your bedroom.

 

Distraction is a very broad word, but when it comes to your bedroom there are many potential distractions that mess with your sleep. Your bedroom and especially your bed should be for sleeping and sex and nothing else. Reading might be okay, but everything else should be off limits. Watching TV, sending emails, etc.

Everything that gets you thinking and prevents your from sleeping should not be in your bedroom.

You will notice that a clean bedroom will increase the quality of your sleep.

Clean out your bedroom

If you don’t live in a single room apartment, it’s time to clean out your bedroom. Get rid of the TV, the books and all the other stuff that isn’t related to sleep. You don’t need it in there. The moment you step into your bedroom all your thoughts should be about sleep. Everything that’s distracting you should go. Try it. Your sleep will be better.

Turn off your electronics

Most of us (myself included) are just addicted to those little (or big) screens. For a few weeks now I try to shut down all electronics one hour before going to bed. Most nights I succeed, but sometimes I fail, which is okay. The technology has so much power of us that it messes with our essential needs. Do this step-by-step. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour, etc. Read a physical book, take a walk, talk with a friend or your partner. There are so much things to do, we just need to re-discover them!

Use reminders

Technology is keeping us awake, but instead of only blaming it, we can use it to help us sleep better. Almost every device you own has built-in reminders or a way of connecting reminders to them (i.e. with IFTTT). Even if reminders won’t improve your sleep by themselves, they can definitely help you to improve your sleep. If you are used to browsing through your phone at night, install a reminder that pops up and says: “Stop browsing now, your sleep is more important!”
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