I. The Physical Sleep Environment


The physical environment in which we sleep, of course, needs to be appropriate.

There are numerous places where people can access a good bed, better pillows, non-allergenic sleep products – that’s not our agenda here.

Sleep spaces to avoid include noisy, hot, bright, disturbed areas. Thoroughfares where the children pass through, areas where work and relaxation are mixed, and bedrooms that stimulate thought or action (students homework, untidiness, etc) are all unwise choices.

Some tips for “setting the mood” which you might be new to you are:


Overheating in bed reduces the quality of sleep.  We tend to sleep better when our body is cool.  In fact, the reason many people recommend a warm bath before going to sleep is because the drop in temperature experienced after having the bath brings on feelings of drowsiness.

Bed temperatures above about 32°C reduce rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is very important for quality sleep.  Overheating during REM sleep can be disruptive.

Without good REM sleep, you can wake up feeling unrefreshed, tired, and vague.  Some feel like they have a hangover, without having been drinking.

Associate Professor Peter Cistulli, President of the Australasian Sleep Association says that doonas/duvets trap sleepers in a heat layer.  He agrees with others that blankets are more effective than doonas/duvets for regulating temperatures in bed – and they can provide a more uniform temperature than doonas.

Sleeping slightly cool is a lot easier under blankets than under a doona/duvet – especially for the person who feels the heat.  If you do care about your partner’s sleep quality (and who doesn’t?) – listen to them when they say they’re too hot.

Apart from losing valuable sleep – overheating in bed, according to renowned skin specialists Dr. Hugh Molloy and Dr. Garry Egger is also associated with:

  • “Doona Eyes? ” darkening of the skin around the eyes – with sufferers mentioning itchiness, flaking, swelling of the eyelids, and sleep in the eyes on waking.
  • Facial Dermatitis.  If facial rubbing occurs during the night other skin changes can become noticeable.  It can cause blackheads and whiteheads and acne on women who are well beyond puberty.
  • Peri-oral dermatitis.
  • Grover’s Disease. Itchy red lumps on the upper chest of middle-aged men, a major factor being sweat entrapment.
  • Facial Excrescences
  • Atopic Eczema and acne
  • Hair and Scalp problems

Source:  Good Skin book, Dr Hugh Molloy and Dr. Garry Egger, Allen and Unwin.

FURTHERMORE, in order to go to sleep your core body temperature needs to cool down by 0.3 of a degree C.  The older we get, the harder it is for the body to achieve this.  Source:  What’s Good For You, Channel 9, June 12, 2006.

How many more reasons do we need to dump the doona?


  • Use blankets and sheets instead of doonas/duvets.  Use woollen and cotton blankets in preference to acrylic, mohair and angora because the latter ones retain more heat during the night.? The number of blankets used should make you feel “comfortably cool”, at the most ‘warm’, but never hot.  Re-train yourself for a better night’s sleep.
  • Don’t overheat the bed before getting in. A temperature drop (especially after a warm bath) can help trigger sleepiness. Your core body temperature needs to cool down to go to sleep. If you can’t sleep, peel off some bed coverings during the night. Listen to your bed-partner, especially if they feel the heat. Don’t rug-up to go to bed.

One’s Hot, One’s Not

Being overheated in bed becomes complicated when what one partner thinks is snugly and warm the other partner thinks is a furnace.

In about 80% of couples one partner is hotter than the other, and at least one of them is receiving sub-standard sleep if they are sleeping in the same bed, with the same coverings.  Generally men are hotter than women.  The temperatures can reverse after menopause, when some women heat up permanently (after the hot flushes stage) and find they are the ones wanting to shed blankets when they previously felt colder.

The Compatibility Blanket was invented by Sleepless No More to solve the problem of temperature incompatibility between partners in bed.
Blankets, and particularly the Compatibility Blanket, allow couples to regulate bed temperatures more effectively than doonas/duvets.

Here are some more pages of information on the Compatibility Blanket:






Light reading and sex aside, try not to make the bedroom a multi-function auditorium!

Don’t use the laptop, mobile phone, watch TV, play computer games etc.
Don’t nap during the day, and only go to bed when you feel tired, not before.


Avoid exposure to bright lights before going to bed.

Dim lights rather than bright ones are more appropriate for the bedroom. Don’t interfere with your circadian rhythm by having inappropriate light cues.  We recommend sleeping in the dark so that the presence of light signals the coming dawn.

An Overstimulated Lifestyle

Sleep specialists agree that both adults and children are overstimulated.  There are now too many things competing for our attention.

Working from Home?

With an increase in people working from home there is less demarcation between work and home life.  Gone are the days (for many) where you start to relax on the train home, read the afternoon paper and play with the kids when you get home.  This lifestyle provided a transition between being “switched on and alert” and being ‘relaxed and at home’.  People who work from home sometimes even get into bed with their laptops and mobiles and wonder why they have trouble sleeping.

Watching the Clock

Don’t watch the clock.  If you wake in the night (including at 5.15 am when you’re meant to be getting up at 6.00 am!) say to yourself “let’s go back to sleep – it’s the middle of the night.”  This way, you could snatch another 45 minutes of valuable sleep without your mind telling you “not long to go now, it’s not worth going back to sleep”.

Essential Oils and Burners

For hundreds of years (perhaps more) essential oils have been used to help people relax, enhance mood, refresh and inspire.

Establish an Electric Oil Vaporizer (the safe, electrical type) in the bedroom, with calming and/or uplifting Essential Oils to permeate the space. They are safe to leave on permanently, even without an oil top-up.

In the shops there are a range of superb Essential Oils, which can be used in the bedroom, bathroom, office, home or the car (Car Scenter).  Electric Oil Vaporizers do away with the need for messy candles, naked flames and black char.  Alternatively there are Ceramic Lamp Rings that can be placed over any standard light globe to heat essential oils.