Is Your Bedroom Harmful for Sleep? 5 Sleep Environment Factors to Consider

by Dr. Kenny Pang

Different elements make for a more conducive sleep environment. Check your bedroom for its noise level, temperature, and more.

Adopting healthy habits like exercising daily and avoiding caffeine in the evening can help you get better quality sleep, but don’t stop there. Practising good sleep hygiene encompasses these simple sensible habits and more. Another aspect of good sleep hygiene involves improving your sleeping environment. 

Let’s begin with your bedroom. While most people can adapt to almost any kind of sleep environment, it is important to have one that is conducive for sleep – all the more so if you have allergies.

There are several factors that contribute to a bedroom’s conduciveness, but the most important are noise level, light, and temperature. 

So, is your bedroom harmful for sleep? First ask yourself: Is it quiet? Is it dark? Is it comfortably cool? If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, then your sleep environment could do with some improvements.

Sleep Environment Factor 1: Noise

Your bedroom should be as quiet as possible. Many people are very sensitive to noise in the environment. Sounds in your surroundings should not be rhythmic, like the clock or the sound of dripping water from a leaky tap. 

White noise, like the sound of your air conditioner, fan, or noisy radiator, is better. Some sleep specialists recommend tuning in to the white noise between any two FM radio stations. Abrupt and intense noise will disrupt your sleep. Some companies offer gadgets that play the soothing sound of lapping sea waves or crickets chirping in the forest to help you sleep. These may help some individuals initiate sleep better.    

Sleep Environment Factor 2: Light

As our body is sensitive to light and darkness, too much light, especially blue light, in your sleep environment may contribute to sleeplessness. Using thick curtains and blocking the rim of doors or windows to reduce the amount of light leaking into the bedroom may help. Eye shades are also useful. 

Sleep Environment Factor 3: Temperature

Most of us are not able to sleep if we are too hot and sweaty or too cold and shivering. A warm bedroom is not ideal; too many blankets and bedclothes will disrupt sleep and may even induce nightmares. Depending on the individual, the ideal bedroom temperature could range between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.     

Other bedroom factors, like humidity and air quality could also affect how well you sleep.

Sleep Environment Factor 4: Humidity

Most people prefer to keep the windows open to let some fresh air in. However, this might not be too pleasing for some, as it allows noise and other forms of pollution into the bedroom. In general, a humidity of about 60 to 80% would be adequate. You may wish to use a humidifier if your sleep environment is dry.  

Sleep Environment Factor 5: Air Quality

We spend six to eight hours, or about one third of day – and lives – in our personal bedroom. The air quality in your bedroom is very important. Sinus or nasal allergies (such as to dust mites) will disrupt your sleep. Studies have shown that patients with blocked nose and difficulty breathing through the nose at night have poorer quality sleep. These patients tend to open their mouth to breathe while sleeping and hence wake up with a dry throat. 

Hygienic practices, such as weekly floor vacuuming and regular washing of home linens, help in allergen avoidance. Its maintenance would prevent the onset of allergies, for example nasal allergies, asthma, and eczema. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter in the room might help capture dust mites and other potential irritants. A clean room makes for better sleep hygiene too.

Haze pollution strikes almost annually in Southeast Asia, notably in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. If the haze is in town, it might be prudent to close all windows, and turn on the air-conditioning and HEPA air filters throughout the night.

With some changes to your bedroom, you could be get better quality sleep.

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