1. Keep the bedroom dark, “blackout” curtains are helpful to shut out the bright morning sunlight. Darkness is needed for the secretion of the body’s normal sleep hormone, melatonin. Conversely bright lights suppress the body’s natural melatonin and will disturb sleep.
2. Avoid overly stimulating activities in the bedroom, such as watching TV or playing computer games. The bright lights and sounds from the TV or computer terminal promotes arousal rather than sleep. Mentally stimulating or disturbing TV programmes also affect sleep. Generally it is a good idea to keep the TV set out of the bedroom, which should ideally only be used for sleep and sexual activity.
3. Room temperature should be comfortable – which is a matter of preference and varies between individuals but generally should not be too hot or too cold.
4. Reading and any form of relaxing activity can help sleep, but bright light exposure should be minimized because of the effect of light on melatonin. Electronic devices like Kindle and iPAD may disturb sleep if they emit too much bright light.
5. Sound: Generally a quiet (pleasant smelling and dark) environment is ideal for sleeping. Some people find specific sounds (eg. white noise, recordings of sounds of nature) or smells (aromatherapy) soothing, and can utilize these to enhance the bedroom environment for sleep.
6. Clean bedding which is free of allergens in a generally uncluttered setting is conducive to good sleep. Although there are many different types of mattresses and linen in the market, the choice is again individual, eg. whether a soft or firm surface is preferred. Most people without sleep disorders can sleep normally with just “average” quality bedding, especially high cost or quality mattresses/pillows/bedlinen are not typically needed. The overall bedroom environment should be a clean, serene and inviting sanctuary to retreat to at the end of the day.