How Living In The City Can Affect Your Sleep

First added 11th June 2021

By Lewis Ridley

5 min read

Living in the city can provide a whole host of benefits. You're close to shops, gyms, and in some cases, pretty close to work. However, what many people forget to remember is city life can impact sleep quite severely. Even if you have a comfy small double bed to sleep in!

In this article, we'll be diving into everything you need to know about sleeping in the city and sleep quality. If you're looking to ensure you get the best sleep possible, continue reading onward.

How Does City Living Impact Sleep Quality?

Sleeping in the city can impact your sleep quality in a number of ways and, unfortunately, the effects are usually negative. As a result, it is not uncommon for those sleeping in the city to experience insomnia and wakeful nights.

Sleep quality can be negatively impacted by various things, with the main culprits including noise, lights, and those early morning and late-night commutes. Let's explore these in more detail.

Disturbance From Noise

With consistent noise from passing vehicles and the occasional late-night party-goer stumbling home from the clubs, noises in the city can reach aggravating levels. Of course, this depends on where you live, but it's fair to assume nobody wants to be woken in the middle of the night to experience a fuzzy head the following morning.

Even the slightest of noise can have a negative impact on your sleep - it doesn't even have to wake you. Noise can start to impact sleep at the subconscious level, which has been shown in a number of studies. External noise can prevent you from achieving deeper sleep stages, keeping you in the lighter stages and closer to wakefulness.

Additionally, night-time noise can also result in the production of sleep waking-related hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. All of which contribute to poor sleep quality.

In the short term, noise won't produce any severe problems - you'll likely feel sleepy, irritable, and may experience poorer mental health the following morning. However, if this persists into the long-term, you run the risk of developing high blood pressure and a whole host of other issues. It's for this reason why you should look to solve sleep problems sooner rather than later.

Excessive Light

Light can also have a profound impact on sleep quality. With the city being a bright place to live, streetlights can start to creep into your room and prevent you from achieving the perfect slumber.

Light impacts sleep by influencing your circadian rhythms. This process is essentially your biological body clock, and it relies on sunrise and sunset to maintain normal functioning.

Unfortunately, with all the artificial sources of light present during the night in the city, your body can become misaligned with natural day and night cycles. As a result, hormones won't be produced at the right time, and you'll start to feel awake when you should be falling asleep.

Sleep Loss from Commutes

Making sure you get enough sleep in the night is crucial. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people should be getting between 7-8 hours of sleep a night. This ensures you feel well-rested in the morning and prevents any adverse effects. However, with long commute times and high-pressure jobs, those hours can start to dwindle.

Commute times can extend past 25 minutes for most people, and this adds up over the year. With all this time spent traveling, sleep time can start to reduce. If this continues, health issues can start to pop up. If you’re currently commuting for long periods, living closer to work could greatly improve your well-being.

How Can You Improve Sleep Quality in the City?

At a glance, living in the city doesn't seem like a good idea. With all the problems associated with sleep, it can be tough justifying living there. However, there are a few ways you can change your sleeping environment to give yourself a better chance of a good night's sleep.

Use Noise-Cancelling Materials

If noise is the problem you're suffering from, making your sleep environment a little more soundproof can go a long way when aiding your sleep. There are a variety of ways you can achieve this. However, here are some common options you can experiment with:

  • Use earplugs: If you're unable to pad your room or your living situation is a little difficult, earplugs are a sufficient option for producing a quiet sleep environment. Additionally, there is some research to suggest earplugs can benefit your sleep, so it could be worth a go. However, if you're not keen on putting an earplug in your ears at night, noise-cancelling headphones will do the same job.
  • Fill your room with soft surfaces: If you ever paid attention in GCSE science, you'll know sound bounces and reverberates off objects. By padding your room with soft materials, such as cushions and rugs, you can prevent noise from travelling around your room.
  • Insulate windows: You can try to soundproof your windows using thicker curtains, sealing gaps in the frame, installing soundproofing windows. These are more hands-on, expensive methods, however.
  • Turn off notifications and mobile alerts: Our mobiles are constantly pinging left, right, and centre. If you're looking to create a quieter sleep environment, putting your phone on silent could be an effective way to reduce external noise.

Darken Your Room (and Brighten Your Mornings)

With light being a potential issue in the city, creating a darker environment can help you sleep. Here are a few ways you can achieve this:

  • Use an eye mask: There is a bit of research to suggest eye masks can benefit sleep. If you find yourself kept awake by annoying streetlights, eye masks could help you achieve a well-rested evening.
  • Use blackout curtains: If you are able to change the decor of your bedroom, considering blackout curtains or blinds could drastically reduce light levels in your room. If you happen to rent accommodation, speak to the landlord and see if they’ll help you out.
  • Remove blue light sources: Blue light can cause havoc on our circadian rhythms, with phones being a problematic source. An hour before bed, switch off your phone and avoid light. To keep yourself occupied, read a book, or run a hot bath!

As well as darkening your room, you can also try getting more light exposure when you wake up. This is achievable through devices such as light boxes. These produce a bright light that you look into in the mornings, and they help to aid natural wake-up processes in the body.

Alternatively, if you happen to live in a sunny part of the UK (is that even a thing?), you can open your curtain and get your sunlight exposure that way.

Talk to Neighbours, Flatmates & Bosses

Unfortunately, from time to time, it’s the people closest to us who cause our sleep issues. These can include neighbours, flatmates, and bosses. Of course, if any of these groups are impacting your sleep, it’s important to start a healthy discussion and try and solve the issue quickly. Leaving it for too long can create feelings of resentment and may make the problem worse.

If the problem is associated with your morning and evening commute, a discussion with your boss might be needed. They aren’t going to move their office closer to you anytime soon, but they may make allowances if you happen to live far away.

Delay Caffeine Intake

With city life commonly associated with high-pressure positions and busy lifestyles, coffee offers support frequently throughout the day. The most common time to drink coffee for many of us will be during those early hours when willpower is at a premium. However, it’s this very habit that could be ruining your wake-up routine.

Caffeine can interrupt your natural waking processes, interfering with hormones like adenosine and cortisol. By delaying your coffee intake by a few hours after waking, you can allow your body to use its natural mechanisms to wake and then use caffeine for a justified boost. You shouldn’t be using caffeine as the primary mechanism for waking you up in the morning.

Closing Thoughts

Living in the city can impact your sleep in many ways. Unfortunately, according to research and various other anecdotal evidence, the effects don't look positive.

However, these effects can be negated with the proper sleeping environment. By using noise-cancelling methods and light-blocking materials, you can still achieve a good night's sleep.

And if you're looking to take your sleep environment to the next level, why not consider a new bed from Sleep and Snooze? We provide affordable beds perfect for city and studio apartments.

For more information on how we can help, get in touch today!


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