Optimize the bedroom 1: Reduce noise and light

Light has a direct influence our internal clock (see circadian rhythm), and the absence of light indicates to the brain that it is night time. As such, a darkened bedroom will help promote a good night’s sleep.

Making some changes such as using black-out blinds to cover the windows can quickly darken a bedroom. However, it is important to also assess any light being emitted from electronics and other sources. Although they may be small, their impact on the quality of your sleep can be significant. To reduce the impact of those lights, if the item cannot be removed from the bedroom, a simple solution is to cover up the light with tape or to change the angle of the device (ex. alarm clock) so that the light is not directly facing the bed.

Sounds, particularly when abrupt, can wake you from your sleep. Although we cannot control exterior sounds such as sirens, it is important to reduce noise in the bedroom. Particularly, if a cell phone or other device is kept in the room, put the item on silent mode before going to bed.

I personally use the ‘bedtime’ mode in the alarm settings of my phone. Calls and notifications are automatically silenced between the set times. This removes chances of me forgetting to put my phone on silent before falling asleep, which was happening too frequently for my (and my partner’s) liking.

Constant low level noise (known as ‘white noise’) such as the use of a fan or an air purifier can help to mask away other environmental sounds that are keeping you awake. However, this is person specific as the tone and volume preferred will vary from one individual to another, and may also require a few nights to get used to the sounds as well. If environmental sounds are keeping you awake, this may be a way to muffle the sounds and help you fall asleep.

A face mask and earplugs can also be used to block out sound and light. Although it may take some time to get used to wearing these items, they are also a good option when travelling or when sound and light conditions cannot be fully controlled.