Sleep Environment

Last updated: December 31, 2019

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Your sleep environment is simply the place in which you sleep. Your surroundings greatly determine the quality of your sleep. Items such as blackout curtains and earplugs can help to improve the quality of your sleep.

What is a sleep environment?

Your sleep environment refers to your surroundings while you sleep. In most cases, this will be your bedroom. Your sleep environment can vary depending on your life circumstances. If you’re traveling, your sleep environment could be an airplane or hotel room. If you’re camping, it may be your tent or sleeping bag.

Different people can have wildly varying views on what makes for an ideal sleep environment. Some people prefer to sleep in silence, while other may want some white noise in the background. People also have differing ideas on temperature, with some preferring warm environments while others can’t sleep if it isn’t chilly enough.

What factors affect your sleep environment?

Noise

Generally speaking, it’s best to sleep in a quiet environment. This is a holdover from our past, when a loud noise could be an indication of a predator or some other threat that requires our immediate attention. In modern times, it’s much less helpful when you wake up due to traffic or a loud neighbor.

Even if the noise doesn’t completely wake us up, it can still cause us to come out of the deeper sleep stages. This leads to lower quality sleep, which can negatively affect your overall quality of life.

To help reduce the effect of noise on your quality of sleep, you may choose to use a white noise machine or earplugs.

Temperature

Most people prefer to sleep in cool environments. Regardless of what temperature you prefer to set your thermostat at, it’s important that you’re sleeping in the right temperature for your body.

If you’re waking up shivering or covered in sweat, it’s a sign that you may have issues with regulating your temperature while asleep.

When planning the optimal temperature for your sleep environment, it’s important to imagine what sleeping would be like if you had to sleep outdoors. As the sun sets, the temperatures cools down. As the ambient temperatures lowers, your body temperature will cool down as well – the lowest point occurs at approximately 4 AM.

This tells you that it’s important to make sure that your body temperature gradually cools off throughout the night.

Lighting

The general rule is that you want to sleep in darkness, although some people may prefer a nightlight for safety reasons.

The reason why we tend to prefer darkness is because it lines up with our body’s natural circadian rhythm, which follows the dark-light cycle. This is the main reason why working nights is so devastating to people’s health.

Natural morning sunlight is a major factor that helps you to wake up and stay awake. The bright blue lights that our cell phones, TVs, and computers emit simulates the effect of sunlight and can cause sleep disturbances if used close to bedtime.

Bedding

Your bedding is the one aspect of your sleep environment that is more personalized to you. While most people prefer to sleep in darkness, prefer a cool temperature, and would rather sleep in a quiet environment; the type of mattress that people choose to use varies wildly.

You have to experiment for yourself and determine whether you prefer a thicker or thinner mattress, more or less blankets, etc.

It’s important that you optimize your sleep environment according to your unique preferences. The quality and quantity of your sleep is absolutely critical to your health and well-being. By improving your sleep environment, you’ll improve your quality of life and be much more productive.

What you need to know about Bedding

Bedding is by far the most important aspect of your sleeping experience. While you definitely need to spend some time optimizing the sound and lighting of your sleeping area, nothing affects the quality of your sleep like the bedding that you use. Pillows, sheets, and blankets all need to be selected based on your own unique characteristics.

How to choose bed sheets

Sheets are one of the most important types of bedding as they are the part that you directly lay on. There are a few key factors you need to consider when choosing sheets:

  • Overall comfort – This is hands down the most important factor to consider when purchasing sheets. What makes a sheet comfortable or uncomfortable is a matter of personal preference. No matter what type of sheet you like, it’s important to never compromise on comfort.
  • Softness – For most people, softness is synonymous with comfort. Read reviews of sheets before you purchase to make sure that the softness holds up over time.
  • Thickness – Sheets also come in varying levels of thickness. Some people prefer the comfort of being enveloped in thick, heavy sheets; while others prefer the freedom that comes from light, airy sheets.
Does thread count matter?

Thread count is determined by the number of threads that run through a square inch of fabric both vertically and horizontally.  Generally speaking, higher thread count sheets are softer than ones with a lower thread count. There are some exceptions though.

The downside of high thread count sheets is that they are more fragile and prone to damage. Mid-range sheets with a thread count of 400-900 may be a good compromise between comfort and durability.

While many brands prominently advertise their thread count, it’s important to realize that this isn’t the only factor to consider, even if softness is your primary goal. The type of material used and thickness of the sheets should also be considered when making your buying decision.

Sizing

It’s important to measure your mattress size before you shop for sheets, especially the height. Sheets come in a variety of sizes and knowing your bed’s measurements beforehand will help you avoid a lot of trial and error. In addition to measuring the height of your mattress, you should also measure the length and width.

Here are some common mattress sizes:

Twin
  • Flat Sheet – 66″ x 96″
  • Fitted Sheet – 39″ x 75″
  • Pillow Case – 20″ x 26″
Twin size extra long (XL)
  • XL Flat Sheet – 66″ x 96″ (there is no XL flat sheet made and a standard flat sheet for twin beds will work just fine.
  • XL Fitted Sheet – 39″ x 80″
  • Pillow case – 20″ x 26″
Full size
  • Flat Sheet – 81″ x 96-100″
  • Fitted Sheet – 54″ x 75″
  • Pillow case – 20″ x 26″
Queen size
  • Flat Sheet – 90″ x 102-106″
  • Fitted Sheet – 60″ x 80″
  • Pillow case – 20″ x 30″
King size
  • Flat Sheet – 108″ x 102-106″
  • Fitted Sheet – 78″ x 80″
  • Pillow case – 20″ x 36-40″
California King size
  • Flat Sheet – 102″ x 110″
  • Fitted Sheet – 72″ x 84″
  • Pillow Case – 20″ x 36-40″
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