How to create the best sleeping environment

Upgrading elements of your bedroom can make a big difference to your sleep quality and sleep hygiene.

sleeping environment

by Stephanie Anthony |

Do you struggle to get a good night's sleep? If so a bedroom makeover could be just the thing to help you sleep better at night. Here are our tips for improving sleep hygiene to help improve your sleep routine and habits.

Ensuring you get quality sleep each night could help improve your mental health, physical health, safety and quality of life in general. It could also help to reduce your risk of memory loss, diabetes and heart disease as well as improve your immune system, reduce stress, improve mood and help you get along better with people. After all, how many of us are cranky if we don’t get a good night’s sleep?

What is sleep hygiene?

Several studies suggest 8 hours of sleep per night as the standard. However, a lot of things will contribute to making sure that your sleep schedules are about quality as well as quantity. These factors are often referred to as the ways you can keep good sleep hygiene.

According to an NHS survey 45% of those with insomnia found it hard to stay awake in the day

For example, consistent daily routines, a comfortable sleeping environment and reduced caffeine intake can all contribute to a healthy sleep schedule and sleep hygiene routine.

Read next: The best pillow sprays and mists to help you sleep

Ten tips to build good sleep habits

Below are some tips to improve your sleep hygiene and help you create the best sleeping environment in your bedroom to ensure you maximise the suggested 8 hours of sleep and are well-rested the following morning:

sleeping well comfy bedding
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1. Choose the right bed

The right bed can make a whole lot of difference in how you sleep, it should provide enough comfort to keep you well-rested but should be the right type for you so that you do not wake up with aches and pains.

There are many different kinds of beds that you can choose from. However, there is a lot for you to consider before deciding what is right for you. For example, you’ll need to think about the size of the room and the preference of your partner, if you will be sharing your bed.

It’s always best to go to a store to find the right bed for you, or alternatively use a mattress store that will allow you to try it at home for 30 days to make sure you have the right match.

A solid well-made bed is important but a high price does not always translate to quality - there are lots of cheap and discounted beds and mattresses that are available online that still offer the quality you seek.

Eleanor Richmond from Bed SoS, the bed and mattress specialist, says “With so many different choices and conflicting advice about buying a bed it is easy to find yourself becoming confused. We recommend trying a selection of beds before making a decision. If you want to save money, search for your preferred beds online regularly as most products will be in bed sales events or special offer. Key times of the year are January sales and Black Friday sales."

2. Refresh your bedding

According to the Sleep Foundation, the different surfaces and materials we sleep on can seriously impact our quality of sleep, so it's important you experiment with different types of bedding until you find what works for you. For example you might find you sleep better with silk sheets – and while this may seem an indulgence, they'll pay for themselves when it comes to a better night’s sleep.

If you’ve ever spent a truly comfy night at a friend’s house or hotel, get in touch with them to see where they bought their bedding.

You might be surprised at the range of pillows available – from memory foam to anti-allergy, or ones that have cooling properties. Many companies offer online buying guides that take into account your preferences and sleep positions – or ask in a bed shop for their recommendations.

Read next: The best pillows for a great night's sleep

3. Clean out all the clutter

Decluttering will benefit you both physically and psychologically. Cleaning out the clutter in your bedroom could help to improve your concentration level, lower stress, boost your mood, improve your creativity and help you get quality sleep.

Take out all potential distractions from your room, so that your mind is conditioned to view it as a room for relaxing and not for anything else.

phone on bedside table
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4. Ditch all the electronics

Using electronics at night is quite common, with many of us habitually using our smartphone, tablet or laptop in bed. Some of us even do a double screening whilst watching television at the same time!

However, this could be seriously affecting your quality of sleep. All these devices emit an artificial blue light, which makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep. They could also delay the circadian rhythm and suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

Try to ditch all electronics at least thirty minutes to an hour before bedtime if you want to have a night of quality sleep. To make this more effective, keep all electronic devices as far away from you as possible when starting your bedtime routine. During the last 30 minutes of your day before bed, try doing some relaxation techniques including reading a book or meditating.

5. Keep your room quiet

A noisy environment could be another reason why you aren’t getting enough quality sleep. How to avoid this depends on where the noise is coming from.

You could try sleeping with a sound machine which provides soothing and mellow sounds to help you sleep to block out any other distracting noise. You could also work with a timer on your music app if you prefer to sleep with music on, as it will help ensure you don’t wake up later from the noise.

“Noise is the most disruptive in the lighter stages of sleep, but noise that awakens us in our deepest sleep does the most damage,” says Lisa Artis from The Sleep Charity. “Combat with double-glazing, or the budget option is earplugs!”

6. Optimal room temperature

Most sleep scientists believe that a slightly cool room contributes to good sleep, meaning your body temperature with the environment it needs for rest and regeneration. A colder room is thought to help you fall asleep in less time and achieve a deeper sleep so you wake up feeling more refreshed.

Creating the best sleeping environment with these simple tips will help you to improve the quality of your sleep over time.

As you’ll know if you’ve ever woken up sweating or shivering, keeping your room a comfortable temperature is key to peaceful sleep. Keep the thermostat somewhere between 16° to 18°C for optimum zzz.

7. Keep your room dark

“Light is a common sleep ‘robber’ as it suppresses melatonin (the hormone that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm) so investing in well-lined curtains which keep the light out and the room dark can be really helpful,” says Lisa.

happy cat sleeping
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8. Seek sleep support

While sharing your worries around sleep may not solve them, it will help you feel less alone if you’re tossing and turning in the small hours. Knowing that other people are going through the same sleep problems can be a comfort, as well as allowing you to share any tips.

Talk to friends and family about how you’re feeling – you might be surprised to find others in the same boat.

If you use Facebook, there are various private groups to join, including the Insomnia Support Group or Sleep Help.

The Sleep Council also has advice and tools such as a sleep diary, relaxing background sounds to play and a stress test. You can also find out more about various sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea on the NHS website.

Read next: The best eye masks for sleeping through the night

9. Think about your diet

There's nothing worse than feeling hungry before you go to bed, but equally, trying to sleep when you feel full is also impossible. That's why it's important yo make sure you eat your last large meal of the day a good few hours before you go to bed (leaving at least an hour between eating and sleeping) and ideally, consume nothing after 8pm.

This will mean that you're not still digesting the food when you go to bed and, providing your dinner is full of plenty of carbs and proteins, you won't wake up feeling peckish.

10. Keep to a sleep schedule

As mentioned, having a regular sleeping schedule can really help your body get into a regular routine. This means waking up at the same time each day, getting enough daylight and exercise, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake and cutting out naps to help your body's internal clock if you can. Overtime, all of these changes will help improve your quality of sleep.

You should also stick to a similar night time routine and have the same time every day. This also means sticking to the same routine and putting your pyjamas on and brushing your teeth at the same time each night, and sticking to this 30 minute pre-sleep routine.

It's important to make sure your bed is only used for sleep and sex. As tempting as it can be to get comfy in bed to watch TV or read a book, it can impact your quality of sleep.

Bonus tip: start with a song

New research shows setting your favourite song as an alarm to wake you up could be the best way to start your day on the right foot.

The researchers found a melodic alarm that you can sing along to, as opposed to the traditional dreaded ‘beep-beep’ can in fact boost alertness throughout the day.

Natural sleep hacks to fall asleep fast

Some handy tips, habits and sleep hacks to sleep better naturally, fall asleep fast and most importantly - stay asleep:

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