Trouble Sleeping? Optimize the Sleep Environment with these Tips

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Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash

Try these upgrades to your bedroom environment, and you may sleep a bit better.

  • Minimize the noise, and make the room as dark as possible.

Let’s examine these strategies in more detail. Concerning heat and noise, a well-designed study looked at the effects of daytime and nighttime exposure to heat and traffic noise on night sleep.

Temperature, Noise, and Sleep

During the day, researchers exposed eight subjects to a baseline condition (ambient temperature = 20 degrees C; no noise) or heat (35 degrees C) and noise. The duration of the daytime exposure was eight hours, ending five hours before sleep onset. The following nights, the subjects slept either in undisturbed (20 degrees C; no noise) or in noise, heat, or noise plus heat-disturbed environments.

During the day, the various traffic noise types were distributed at 48/h with peak intensities ranging between 79 and 86 dB(A). The background noise level was at 45 dB(A). At night, the peak intensities were reduced by 15 dB(A). The rate was diminished to 9/h, and the background noise was at 30 dB(A). The scientists continuously recorded electrophysiological measures of sleep and esophageal and mean skin temperatures.

The results showed that both objective and subjective sleep measures were more disturbed by heat than by noise. The thermal load had a more considerable impact on sleep quality than on sleep architecture.

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Photo by John Arano on Unsplash

What about the noise? External noise, say from traffic, can lead to poor sleep and long-term health problems. Nighttime exposure to low-frequency noise can affect the cortisol (stress hormone) response upon awakening. Lower cortisol levels after awakening were associated with subjective reports of lower sleep quality and mood.

Did you know that having a window facing a yard, water, or green space is associated with a substantially reduced risk of noise annoyance and concentration problems? If the window is the bedroom window, sleeping problems are less likely.

Tips to Improve Your Environment

  • minimize external noise

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.


  1. Noise and cortisol levels

Written by

I have degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Penn. I am a radiation oncologist in the Seattle area. You may find me regularly posting at

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