Blue light is bad light, at least when it comes to LED TV screens. If you have one of these in your bedroom, you could be negatively affecting your circadian rhythm. Blue light is known to suppress melatonin secretion, which is essential for making you sleepy. This is why it’s best to avoid exposure to blue light screens for two or three hours before bed.
If you use a pillow, it’s important to choose one that’s properly supportive of your neck and back. Most experts recommend changing your pillows every one to two years to ensure they remain appropriately supportive and free of dirt, dust mites and allergens. Of course, this doesn’t negate the need to ensure your pillow is washed regularly.
Like flatscreen TVs, iPads emit substantial amounts of blue light. The small size of most iPads makes them easy to use in bed – which is unfortunate if you’re hoping to drop off soon after you switch off. As well as affecting your sleep-wake routine, blue light is also thought to be implicated in various health conditions, including diabetes.
We all know what a bad mattress feels like. A comfortable, supportive mattress promotes restful sleep while an uncomfortable, unsupportive one has the opposite effect. For most people, a medium-firm mattress is suitable but you should pay particular attention to your choice of mattress if you have back problems or are prone to general aches and pains.
It isn’t only the blue light that makes cell phones bad bedroom companions. Whether it’s down to FOMO or some other compulsion, the temptation to keep scrolling instead of getting ready for sleep is too much for many of us. And don’t kid yourself that it’s any better if you’re checking the news or reading a book via your kindle app!
For sure you’d miss them if they weren’t there but there’s no doubt that bed-sharing with a loved one doesn’t always result in a good night’s sleep. Whether it’s red hot passion, snoring, bed-hogging or cover-thieving, there’s often some reason why your partner stops you getting your eight hours sleep.
Most medical professionals recommend that babies share their parents’ room until at least six months of age. And, while many parents wouldn’t have it any other way, there’s no doubt that it’s disrupted. Even when asleep and not crying, young babies are noisy sleepers (thanks to their narrow nasal passages), and their snuffling often stops their parents – usually their mother – from sinking into a deep sleep.
Polyester bedding might be cozy in the depths of winter but it’s usually unnecessary, especially in centrally-heated homes. As a synthetic material, it does nothing to help you regulate your body temperature and can often leave sleepers feeling hot and sweaty. There’s also some evidence to suggest that it contributes to respiratory problems and may exacerbate skin issues.
Heating too high
Most doctors and sleep experts suggest that around 65F is the optimum temperature for a bedroom. Any colder than that and you might be too cold to fall asleep and therefore stay asleep. Equally, a bedroom that’s too warm is also not good for a restful night – and if it’s warm as a result of central heating, you could also end up with a dry, scratchy throat.
If you don’t have a dryer or outdoor line, finding somewhere to dry laundry can be a tricky problem. However, your bedroom really isn’t the right place for it. Damp washing loads the air with moisture, raising humidity levels. This can cause breathing problems in vulnerable people, such as those with asthma.
A bedroom without drapes or blinds can look pleasingly unfussy. However, it also means that there’s nothing between you and a sunny early morning wake-up call. That’s fine if you want to be awake and starting your day at sun-up but, if you don’t, you could benefit from some black-out blinds.
Although very cheerful, brightly-colored walls aren’t conducive to sleep, other colors do a better job. Bright colors are stimulating while muted ones are more relaxing. If you agree with this theory, remember that it’s actually the tone and the shade that’s important. Consequently, if you like yellow but are wary of a bright yellow bedroom, pick a soft buttery shade instead.
Too much furniture
A bedroom that’s crowded and cluttered with furniture can seem cozy. However, many people would argue that an over-furnished bedroom has bad feng shui, which is bad news for a healthy, restful sleep. Drawing up a floor plan of your room and playing around with potential layouts can help you work out whether any pieces of furniture can be eliminated.
It’s one of the most common marital arguments: keep the bedroom window open or closed? An open window provides fresh air, which many people value. However, if you’re susceptible to airborne allergens, an open window can be a shortcut to a nighttime asthma attack. Additionally, of course, it also risks noisy neighbors, traffic, foxes, cats or even coyotes disturbing your sleep.
High thread-count cotton bedding
Cotton with a high thread count is one of the most prized types of bedding. However, although cotton is naturally hypo-allergenic and breathable, high thread count sheets and pillow cases aren’t always the best plan – especially if you run hot at night. High thread count percale cotton traps heat. Cotton sateen is a better choice for hot environments.
One of the least welcome bedroom visitors, bedbugs find you by following the carbon dioxide that you breathe out. Their bites are often – although not invariably – itchy and frequently unsightly. Although these insects carry no known transmissible diseases, the psychological impact of a bedbug infestation is often profound, and sufferers may have a lasting dislike for sleep.
Too many plants
Keeping houseplants in the bedroom is generally a good idea and can even help sleep. However, you should be wary of some plants. For instance, although cute, bonsai trees aren’t a good idea for anyone with tree-related allergies. Orchids can also represent potential allergens for some people, as can African violets.
If you’ve ever experienced a cat bringing a dead (or worse, an alive) mouse into your bedroom at night, you’ll understand the reservations about felines and their effect on your sleep. It isn’t only prey-related issues, either. Many cats won’t hesitate to wake you up whenever they think it’s breakfast time – even if it’s still hours before your alarm is due to go off.
Black mould is a serious health concern, no matter where it’s located in your house. It’s a type of fungus and, especially in people with an allergy or sensitivity to it, can provoke itchy eyes, skin problems, congestion and even respiratory problems. In short, a bedroom with black mould isn’t safe to sleep in, and should be checked as soon as possible.
You might need your alarm clock to get you up in the morning – but do you really need its ticking to disturb your sleep? Although some people find the repetitive sound soothing, others are disturbed by it. You may eventually get used to the noise, but it might be worth getting a digital clock or one that ticks more quietly.
Piles of clothes
Not many of us like sorting laundry, but piles of clothes (whether dirty or clean) don’t make for a calm, restful or inviting bedroom. Instituting a rigorous laundry system can help, as can adjusting the contents of your closet and ensuring that you have sufficient storage space. It helps to have good organizational skills so that you can make the most of your space.
Too many knick knacks
Clutter is distracting. Decorating a bedroom to promote good sleep is an art that many people struggle to get right. However, ditching the knick knacks – or at least relocating them to another room – is an easy win. A clearer space, with minimal clutter on surfaces, is inherently more restful. As a bonus, it requires much less dusting.
A new book
Reading is a much better way of preparing for sleep than watching TV or doom scrolling on your iPhone. However, choose your book with care. It’s easy to get so engrossed in a book you haven’t read before that you delay switching off the light. An old, well-read favorite is a safer choice when it comes to guaranteeing a full night’s sleep.
When you’re dropping off to sleep, there’s little that’s more annoying than the whine of an errant mosquito. It’s not only the noise, but also the fear that it might want to bite you for its next meal. Prevention is better than a cure, and that means bug screens on the windows, a plug-in mosquito repellant and, if necessary, a spray.
Curtains need to do their job effectively. Flimsy ones will let so much light through that they might as well not be there. Equally, blinds that aren’t tightly fitted to the dimensions of the window will allow light to seep around the edges. Either way, you stand a good chance of being disturbed by the early morning light or that street lamp outside.
Some people like to sleep with the bedroom door open. However, you’re more likely to enjoy a full, undisturbed night’s sleep if the door is closed. It can’t make sounds breeze, and it’s a natural barrier to noise outside the room. If you absolutely must have the door ajar, use a door stop to keep it in place and turn off hallway lights.
Even if your dog isn’t an early riser, it’s unlikely to be great for your sleep – especially if you allow it to sleep on the bed. Dogs have a natural tendency to find the comfiest spot, even if that’s at your expense. Plus, they often smell bad and may have a tendency to bark at noises outside.
Feng shui experts would tell you that a mirror facing the bed is a no-no. For many people however, any mirror in the bedroom is a discomforting item. Catching sight of a ghostly reflection (even if it’s you or your partner) isn’t conducive to settling down to sleep. At the very least, try to keep mirrors out of sight of the bed.
Smell is very important when it comes to creating a restful bedroom. And, while some smells are obviously unpleasant and to be avoided, others are more surprising. Although some people find oil diffusers soothing, others find their odors so pungent or invasive that they make falling asleep much more difficult.
Most rodents commonly kept as pets are nocturnal. This means, of course, that just as you’re settling down to sleep, Hammy the hamster is awake and getting ready for his nightly exercise on his wheel. Noise disturbance aside, many pet rodents are rather smelly, even when kept in very clean surroundings. As a result, it’s much better to choose a different room for their cage.
Whether you believe in them or not, you probably don’t want to see anything that could look like an apparition. If anything is guaranteed to keep you awake, it’s the belief that you’ve just seen a ghost in your bedroom! Avoiding horror films or ghost stories before bed is sensible if you’re of a nervous disposition.
A dirty bedroom isn’t a nice, welcoming space to settle down in for the night. If your bedroom makes you feel stressed, anxious or even repulsed, you won’t enjoy a good, restful night’s sleep. However, when cleaning, watch out for cleaning fluids containing bleach that could cause respiratory issues. Baking soda, vinegar, a microfiber cloth and some old-fashioned elbow grease should suffice.
Your snooze button
You already know that your snooze button is bad for your sleep, and for some it’s a difficult habit to break. If you’re the sort of person who repeatedly hits snooze until you’re about to be late for work, why not set your alarm clock for a little later and then put it somewhere out of reach so you have to get out of bed.
It isn’t only devices themselves – cell phones, iPads, Kindles and so on – that are problematic in the bedroom. The act of charging them in your bedroom, and especially right next to your bed, is also an issue. Even Apple warns against it, cautioning against prolonged exposure to the heat generated.
Your partner’s absence
Even if they snore or hog the covers, many people find that they don’t sleep at all well when their partner is away. This isn’t necessarily because they miss them a lot. It’s more to do with the physical routines we get used to and also because sleeping next to a trusted partner promotes the release of oxytocin, which can promote feelings of relaxation.
They might not actually be in your bedroom but, if they’re noisy enough, it might sound like that’s the case. Whatever the scenario: a crying baby, a guitar player, a warring couple or an enthusiastically amorous one, a washing machine, or a party, noisy neighbors are one of the most common causes of a bad night’s sleep.
An ensuite is a plus for many people. For others, however, it’s too close for comfort and can be disruptive, especially if they share a bedroom with someone who gets up for nocturnal toilet trips. Worst of all, however, is the open-plan ensuite, a relatively new trend that has bathroom fittings installed in a bedroom without the benefit of any dividing wall or door.
Space considerations may mean that squeezing a work space into a bedroom is unavoidable. Unfortunately, it’s also an unavoidable fact that turning a bedroom into a bedroom-cum-office is not good when it comes to helping you switch off, relax and fall asleep at bedtime. At the very least, try to put work-related equipment out of sight before retiring for the night.
Shoes on the bed
Shoes on the bed won’t actually stop you falling asleep but they may well make your sleep environment less appealing. It’s not just the dirt and polish they can transfer to your bedding, if you’re a feng shui follower, you’ll also know that shoes (and shoe racks) create negative energy in the bedroom.
Although many children struggle to fall asleep without a night light, visible light disrupts sleep cycles and makes sleep more fragmentory. Pitch darkness is most conducive to good sleep but, if some sort of light is deemed necessary, a red light is the best option as it’s least likely to disrupt the circadian rhythm.