Living in London has its perks. Few other British cities can offer the level of hustle and bustle, nightlife, and excitement of London, especially since Fabric re-opened. Living in London is a quid pro quo, however: the fast-paced lifestyle comes at the price of noise and light pollution, often making good sleep hard to come by. Whilst a few lifelong, hardy Londoners may have acclimatised to the conditions to some extent, the vast majority of us could do with improving our sleeping environments as much as possible. Here, we present you with a few useful tips to help you on the way to a more restful kip at the end of a tiring day in the city.
First and foremost, it’s time to tackle the light pollution. Excessive light not only makes it harder to drift off, it also inhibits the production of melatonin – known as the “sleep hormone”. Perhaps the best option is to invest in dark, heavy curtains to simply block out the light from street lamps, cars, and shop signs. A humble eye mask will also do the trick if you don’t want to redecorate, not to mention that it’s cheaper.
Light disturbances can come from inside too; specifically TVs, laptops, smartphones, or anything else with a bright screen. LCD screens emit so-called blue light that tricks your brain into a state of wakefulness. Ideally you should turn off your devices before bed and read a book instead, but if you must, at least use a screen dimmer that reduces blue light. F.lux is a popular app for this.
Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do to stop noise disturbances at source, so you’re essentially left with one option: block your ears. Earplugs are the most obvious approach, and for good reason. However, not all earplugs are created equal. For instance, bog standard foam plugs (the type they sometimes give out at loud gigs) are effective at blocking out sound but don’t accommodate for different ear sizes and aren’t reusable. Similarly, hard silicon earplugs are reusable and tend to fit well, but prove uncomfortable for anyone who sleeps on their side. We recommend choosing either soft silicon or wax earplugs – both are very comfortable, but soft silicon is less effective than the more expensive wax plugs.
Thanks to the ever-rising living costs in London, it can be tempting to take the cheapest option for most purchases. If you can help it, your mattress should not fall into that category. Going for cheap and cheerful is a false economy in this case, so it’s well worth re-budgeting for. Although you might save a few quid in the short term, a cheap mattress won’t last long and, more importantly, will be less conducive to a good night’s sleep. Memory foam mattresses come highly recommended because they mould to your body shape and are breathable, maintaining a cool body temperature. The online mattress store Eve even compress their memory foam mattresses into a box for highly convenient city delivery.
More than any other environment, city life causes a lot of stress. Residual stress from the daily grind can make it difficult to drift off even if you’re already taking the previous steps on this list. After a hard day at the office, you need to wind down both mind and body to prepare for sleep. Start by eliminating, or at least reducing, your caffeine and sugar intake throughout the evening. That final coffee you have at 6pm isn’t helping! For your body, try doing some light exercise in the early evening. It doesn’t have to be strenuous – a simple stroll to the shops rather than taking the tube can be a great way to wind down the body. Meditation is a great remedy for a restless mind at bed time; it’s more about focusing on your breathing and awareness of the present moment than trying to empty your mind. For more information on how to meditate to improve your sleep, see this article on Health.com.