How To Create The Perfect Sleep Environment

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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Last Updated On February 7th, 2024
How To Create The Perfect Sleep Environment

Key Takeaways

  • Sleep Quality and Health: Recognize the vital connection between sleep and overall well-being. Prioritize creating a sleep-friendly environment to promote brain restoration and mitigate the negative impacts of sleep deprivation, including impaired cognitive function, emotional instability, and potential long-term health issues like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Science of Sleep Stages: Understand the dynamic nature of sleep, including the different phases like non-REM and REM sleep. Recognize the importance of each sleep stage in the sleep cycle and how they contribute to memory consolidation and overall cognitive functions.
  • Bedroom Environment Optimization: Implement practical strategies to optimize your bedroom for better sleep quality. Consider factors such as clutter reduction, use of essential oils, appropriate mattress selection, temperature regulation, lighting management, and effective stress and anxiety management techniques to create an ideal sleep sanctuary.

A soothing sleep environment is necessary for a good night’s sleep. According to studies, people sleep better when their bedroom environment is suited for light and noise levels, temperature, and comfort, providing good sleep.

Sleep quality and duration are strongly related to other elements of human health. Therefore, a sleep-promoting bedroom environment can also enhance your health and how you feel while awake.

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Best of all, designing the ideal bedroom environment does not have to be expensive. Various low-cost techniques make your sleeping environment more relaxing and conducive to better sleep.

Why Is Sleep So Vital to Your Health?

We intuitively understand the importance of good sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep or are taking too long to fall asleep, you’ll feel tired. Also, you won’t be able to think as clearly as usual, and you may get grumpy and irritated. This is because one of the things that sleep plays a role in is brain restoration.

During sleep, the brain empties away the waste products (called metabolites) that it generates during the day. The brain also experiences an increase in adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a chemical used by the brain for energy and requires communication between brain cells and proper hormone levels.

Your daily ATP levels are unlikely to be measured, but they significantly impact your capacity to operate. If you don’t get a decent night’s sleep and those chemical processes are disrupted, you’ll most likely notice the following the next day:

  • Concentration is more difficult.
  • It’s more challenging to recall information.
  • You’re irritated and grumpy.
  • Your perception may be biased.
  • You’re less patient.
  • You’re more inclined to make impulsive judgments or struggle to make decisions.
  • You’re a little more emotional than usual.
  • Your hand-eye coordination isn’t quite proper.
According to peer-reviewed research, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source there is increasing evidence that chronic sleep deprivation leads to the accumulation of specific brain proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological issues.

The Science of Sleep

You may not recall everything that happens when falling asleep each night, but, a lot is going on in your brain and body. Every single body system has differences between sleep and wake periods, but nothing as dramatic as changes in consciousness during sleep.

“Like wakefulness, sleep (both NREM and REM) is dynamic processes that is regulated by a complex, and only partially understood, network of neural pathways from the brainstem to the cerebral cortex,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “And like waking functions, sleep is a developmental process that changes over the course of our lives from infancy to old age.”

The Various Sleep Stages

During sleep, the brain cycles through many phases regularly, and the brain’s activity changes as it moves between these sleep stages.

Non-REM (rapid eye movement) first stage 

The first stage is when you fall asleep – non-REM stage 1. Your heart rate, breathing rate, and eye movement begin to slow, and your muscles relax. Your brain waves also slow down, and waking up at this early sleep is still relatively simple. 

Non-REM sleep second stage 

In the second stage, your heart rate and body temperature both decrease. Except for occasional bursts of activity, eye movement stops totally, and your brain slows dramatically, though there are bursts of activity that help you stay asleep regardless of outside noises.

Non-REM sleep third stage 

Deep slumber follows. This is a significant and vital stage. During this stage of sleep, your heart rate and breathing rate reduce the most, making it difficult to wake up. The brain activity of this stage is characterized by delta waves.

REM sleep

The dream state, though dreams can occur in other stages of sleep. Finally, REM sleep occurs when your eyes begin to dart back and forth from side to side (even though your eyelids are still closed). Brain activity increases dramatically, approaching that of when you are awake. 

REM sleep causes your breathing to become faster and more erratic. Although your heart rate and blood pressure begin to return to normal, the muscles in your arms and legs become temporarily immobilized. Sleep specialists believe this paralysis is a protective mechanism our bodies evolved to safeguard us from damage or other harm that may occur if we “acted out” our dreams. right now arrow

Each sleep cycle (a collection of all phases) lasts around 90 minutes. And most people spend more significant time in deeper sleep earlier in the night — and more time in REM sleep later in the night — during each cycle. Each stage of sleep is vital and deep, and sleep is essential for many learning and memory consolidation processes.

Tips for a Good Night of Sleep

De-Clutter Your Space 

It is critical to keep your sleep environment neat and remove any potential distractions before your body can begin to rest. Necessary job paperwork, busy artwork, or even a treadmill are all unpleasant reminders of your duties that might keep you awake at night. In worst-case scenarios, hoarding can significantly affect sleep.

Instead, keep your bedroom clutter-free and your décor to a minimum. It is also helpful to remove any blue-light emitters such as screen devices. Even switched off, these devices can be distracting.

Make Use of Essential Oils 

Unsurprisingly, we associate relaxing scents with emotions and memories, which determine how we feel. Essential oils for sleep are often disregarded, yet they tend to help you wind down, relax, and finally fall asleep throughout the night.

Aromatherapy scents using essential oils Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source are a simple and affordable way to help you relax physically and psychologically. Aromatherapy creates a calming sleep environment. Lavender and vanilla are two of the most popular sleep oil natural scents. They may be used in an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.

Purchase a New Mattress

It’s vital to examine your sleeping posture since this will decide whether a soft or firm bed is best to help you sleep better. Whatever mattress type you prefer—memory foam, natural fiber, or a cooling and heating mattress—be sure to try it out in-store if you can.

Though, don’t stress if you can’t try a mattress before buying it. Mail order mattresses also provide free home trials. 

Some mattresses are constructed with specific health issues, and general mattresses for pressure points can often help with pain issues. Consult your doctor before you search for a new mattress if you suffer from sleep apnea, sciatica, scoliosis, or another disease.

 Although most mattresses last up to ten years, the initial purchase might be daunting. If money is tight, foam toppers can be put on your mattress to increase comfort and prevent waking up stiff and achy. To improve your sleep environment, looking into better bedding when purchasing a new mattress is also essential.

Set the Temperature in Your Bedroom

The ideal bedroom temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius). This varies by person, but most doctors recommend having the thermostat set between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) for the most pleasant sleep.

Make Your Bedroom Walls a Calming Color 

Color strongly influences our mood and may improve our sleep quality by providing a relaxing environment. According to research, blue is the best bedroom color for sleeping, followed by yellow, green, and silver. 

However, blue light can have the opposite effect. You are not improving your room by adding blue light. Stick to neutral, pastel, or subdued hues, since bright colors might fool the brain into believing it has to be alert.

Set Aside your Bed for Sleeping Only 

Your brain will begin to link the bedroom with sleep only if you refrain from working, watching TV, or using your phone, tablet, or computer. This will make it much simpler for you to wind down at night.

Keep Sounds Low

Earplugs are one to deal with distracting noises, and you can even look into items like soundproof tiles to block noise from the bedroom. If you still have trouble keeping things quiet, consider moving your bedroom to another room when possible.

For someone uneasy in complete silence, try sleeping with a fan on to disguise the noise if you cannot prevent or eliminate the noise caused by your neighbors, the traffic, or other individuals in your household.

Think about Getting New Bedding

When looking for the best type of sheets, you will discover a wide variety of options regarding thread counts, weaves, and materials. All of these aspects contribute to the sheets’ warmth and softness, and the best bed sheets for you should be based on the way you want to sleep. 

Do you find that even if you have unlimited garments covering you, you still wake up shivering in the middle of the night? Fleece and wool are two of the most common options for combating the cold, followed by silk.

On the other hand, you could wake up with the impression that you were sleeping in a steam room. If this describes you, you might want to investigate different bedding fabrics, such as cotton, linen, or even bamboo bed sheets. Bed sheets made of breathable fabric and temperature-regulating qualities help you sleep through the night by retaining less heat, making them ideal for people who describe themselves as “hot sleepers.”

Improve Your Lighting

The bedroom should be pitch black. Room-darkening coverings or drapes can assist if there is a lot of light through the windows. If you frequently get up in the middle of the night to use the lavatory, a tiny night light in the bedroom can help lead you securely out of the room.

Light wavelengths have also been demonstrated to be significant. Shorter wavelengths (blue) can inhibit melatonin, whereas longer wavelengths (red) may not impact melatonin.

While LED lights are more energy efficient, they create more blue light. Using dim or red lights before night may aid improve your sleep. Avoid direct exposure to intense light before going to bed. This will assist in the maintenance of your regular sleep pattern.

In addition, natural light during daytime is something you might not consider when it comes to obtaining a good night’s sleep. Still, it is one of the most significant variables in helping you sleep well. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source emphasized the benefits of natural light exposure during daytime for office employees.

Find the Perfect Pillow for You 

The general rule of thumb is that you should replace your pillow every one to two years to keep your spinal alignment while sleeping. If, on the other hand, you discover that you are unable to feel comfortable while you are awake or if you wake up with headaches, neck problems, or shoulder pains, you should think about getting a replacement pillow sooner.

Consider your sleeping position before selecting the appropriate level of hardness for your pillow, which can range from soft options like memory foam or down pillows to more firm options like buckwheat pillows.

Most people who sleep on their stomachs prefer thinner pillows, and those who sleep on their backs prefer pillows with a medium amount of support. Those who sleep on their sides prefer larger pillows.

In addition, if you suffer from allergies or asthma, you may want to consider using hypoallergenic bedding and pillows, which shield you from allergens that might cause your symptoms to get activated. See our tips for better sleeping with asthma for more suggestions.

Prepare Yourself for Better Sleep before Entering Your Bedroom

Work stress, family duties, and sickness can disrupt sleep. Quality sleep may seem elusive. You can’t always manage sleep-robbing circumstances. However, you can adopt sleep-promoting practices. Follow these tips.

Keep a Timetable

A healthy adult needs at least seven hours of sleep. Every night and morning, including weekends, keep the same sleep schedule. Consistency strengthens the sleep-wake cycle.

If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, try something soothing. Relax with a book or a quick craft. Return to bed when you feel tired and get some rest. Keep your sleep and wake-up schedules roughly consistent, but let yourself get anxious if you struggle to fall asleep one night.

Eat and Drink Carefully

Don’t sleep hungry or full, but be careful about eating before bed. Avoid big meals two hours before night. Pain may keep you awake. Caffeinated drinks also warrant care. A cup of coffee can disrupt sleep for hours if you drink it too late in the day.


Cool, dark, and peaceful. Evening light may make it harder to fall asleep. Before sleeping, avoid using bright screens. Consider using room-darkening curtains, earplugs, a fan for sleep, or other items that promote cool, dark silence.

Bathing or employing relaxation methods before bed may improve sleep. You can try breathing exercises for sleep and unwinding with a book or a warm shower.

Limit Daytime Naps

Naps might disrupt evening sleep if they’re too long or too late. You should limit late-day naps to one hour. However, if you work evenings, you may need to power nap before work to catch up on sleep.

Daily Exercise

Regular exercise improves sleep. Just avoid activity before bedtime, and instead try to do it in the morning or afternoon if you can, or the early evening if that’s the best time for you. Consistency is key to maintaining a good exercise schedule, and daily outside time may also assist with sleep by exposing you to natural light.

Control Anxiety and Manage Your Stress

Before bed, address your anxieties. Write down your thoughts for tomorrow so they won’t plague you as you try to sleep. Start with organizing, prioritizing, and delegating.


While this should be a last resort, medicine may help you to better fall asleep, especially if you have a sleep disorder. If you choose to take advantage of medicine to help sleep better, it should be used infrequently and be medically reviewed and approved by a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does environment affect sleep?

Yes, your surrounding environment can affect how easy it is for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Too much light, noise, and being too hot or too cold can leave you struggling to relax enough to fall asleep. An uncomfortable mattress and bedding can also keep you from drifting off when it’s time for bed. Of course, there are other reasons you may not sleep well, such as sleep disorders, so if you struggle to sleep you may want to see a sleep specialist.

How do I block sound in my bedroom?

If earplugs just aren’t cutting it when it comes to quiet sleep, you can look into ways to block noise from your bedroom. Heavy curtains and soundproofing tiles can be quick ways to keep sound out, and thicker doors and windows may also be worth considering. If the sound seems to come from one particular wall or through a window, you may want to move the bed away or even change rooms entirely.

Can a messy room affect your sleep?

Yes, having a too-messy bedroom can affect how easily you drift off to sleep. Seeing the clutter as you close your eyes can cause you to start thinking about cleaning and other chores, which can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep.

Though, it’s still unclear how much is too much. One study from 2015 noted that people at risk of hoarding disorder may find themselves struggling with sleep. However, not everyone with an untidy bedroom is a hoarder. More studies focusing on the general population may make the relationship between clutter and sleep clear.

How do I turn my bedroom into a sleep sanctuary?

When trying to set up a bedroom for better sleep, it’s important to minimize distractions. Make the space as dark, cool, and quiet as you can. Clearing out electronic screen devices such as tablets and computers can make it easier to drift off, but you don’t have to embrace minimalism for a healthy sleep space.

Relaxation is also key. Some find having plants for the bedroom soothe them. Others may want a comfort object, such as a favorite stuffed animal or a pillow to hug.

Which is the most important thing in a bedroom?

Naturally, having one of the best mattresses is the most crucial element for a good night’s sleep. If you struggle to settle down and get comfortable, you’re unlikely to fall asleep fast and may lose out on precious restorative rest. However, you can overlook having the right pillows and bedding, as these can be the difference to feeling cozy, warm, and supported as you sleep.


If you have trouble falling or staying asleep or want to enhance the quality of your sleep, consider adopting some of these healthy sleep practices. If your difficulty sleeping continues, you should discuss it with your primary care physician.

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

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