Older people (aged 65 and over) talked to us about sleep and their bedrooms, beds, bedding and other things in their sleep environment. They talked about how their bedrooms are laid out, and what should be in a bedroom to make it the best place to sleep. Views ranged from believing the bedroom is only for sleeping with no distractions, to having all sorts of equipment such as televisions, computers, CD players and so on.
Beds and Bedding
Some people believe having a comfortable bed is very important for getting a good night’s sleep, as well as having the right kind of pillows. Daniel and his wife had recently bought a very expensive new bed and pillows and they were both sleeping a bit better.
Several people told us how important their pillows were to them. Some have several large pillows on their beds, whereas others only have one or two thin pillows. They are so important to a few people that they even take them away with them if they can. Mary has a special softer German pillow which is better for her neck.
Carol always likes to have six pillows on her bed, and will even ask for extra pillows when she…
Nearly everyone we spoke to believed that it was important to have good ventilation in a bedroom. Most people said they sleep with their windows open and curtains closed. They might have their windows open just a little bit when it’s cold but would generally open them more in the summer to get as much air circulating as possible. People who are unable to open their windows keep their bedroom door open instead.
For some people it is important to have a light on in the room. Some need the light to see what the time is. Others needed to have enough light to find their way to the toilet. Juliet has rheumatoid arthritis so always keeps on a low lamp near her. It helps when she wakes up in the night to go to the toilet she is a bit wobbly on her feet. Some people told us they have a small light on so that if they wake up in the night they can read.
Frank didn’t draw his curtains at all in the night, because he likes the light to stream into his bedroom. He enjoys looking at his garden the minute he wakes up. Several people keep their curtains slightly apart because they like to wake up to the morning light.
Some people find that light curtains help them to sleep, others need heavyweight or blackout curtains or blinds. Couples may have different needs when it comes to lighting during sleep which can mean that some find it harder to sleep.
Anne cant sleep when her husband has the light on to read, unless she is very sleepy.
Several people told us that being too hot or too cold in their bedroom affects how they sleep. Mary lives on her own and sleeps in a double bed, so when she gets hot in the night, she can roll over onto the other side of the bed where it is much cooler. If Mary is too hot it makes her toss and turn, and she has to sleep with the window open. If she is too cold, she can’t get to sleep at all.
A few people told us they changed their bedding according to the seasons, with some of them finding they hated being too hot, so would only have a light duvet or even just a blanket. Others told us they can’t sleep when they’re too cold. They have different ways to deal with this, such as having heavy blankets and sheets instead of a duvet to keep them warm, or making hot water bottles in the night.
Anne and her husband find they get too hot if they dont sleep with a lightweight duvet, even in…
Most people told us they had alarm clocks in their bedrooms. Some people carried on setting their alarms for the morning after they retired, so they wouldn’t feel they were wasting time in bed in the morning. Others set their alarms when they had a specific appointment to get up for, but otherwise would let themselves wake up naturally. However, the majority of the people we spoke to found that they would automatically wake at the time they needed to get up, and usually just before the alarm clock went off, if they had set it.
P. always sets his radio alarm for 7 am because he thinks it is wrong to stay in bed too long,…
William relies on his alarm to get him up in the morning for his early swim, but would otherwise…
Anne and her husband never set their alarms, no matter what time they need to get up because they…
Alarm clocks also functioned as radios and sometimes as lights in a bedroom. Some people told us they didn’t use them as alarms but would listen to the radio whilst dozing in bed.
Not everyone we spoke to sees their bedroom as just somewhere to sleep, for some it also acted as an office and an entertainment centre. People have electrical devices in their bedrooms, such as computers, TVs and radio. Several people do their emails on the computers in their bedrooms, and others use their bed as a desk.
Sue B. takes all her paperwork up to her bedroom and spreads it out over her bed, even falling…
However, other people feel the best environment for sleeping was to have a bedroom free of televisions, radios or music equipment in case it stopped them from sleeping. If they did have this equipment in their bedroom they would never have any of it on when it was time to go to bed.
Les divided his bedroom into two, one area just for sleeping, and the other with his computer and…
Others find them very comforting, and said that they even help them get to sleep. Occasionally, people told us they fall asleep either listening to the television or the radio. Those who live on their own found that the television was a form of company and they enjoyed falling asleep listening to it.
Others said that they get up and watch TV or use a computer sometimes if they can’t sleep. Mary has a radio in her bedroom so that she can listen to the World Service if she wakes in the night, which she says is more soothing than watching the television which tends to keep her awake. (See Strategies for good sleep).
Mary sometimes falls asleep watching the television, or listening to the radio, and would be…
The pain from Juliets rheumatoid arthritis sometimes wakes her up in the night and she occupies…
Carol has heard somewhere that she shouldnt have a television in her room, but she enjoys it as…
Whilst several people did read books, newspapers or magazines in their living rooms, many also liked to read in their bedrooms before settling down for the night either in bed or sitting in their bedroom.
Most people told us they fall asleep very quickly if they read before turning the light out. They found they were reading only a few pages each night. Others said they could read for an hour or so before feeling tired. People also tend to read in bed in the night if they wake up, but usually only if they didn’t have a partner who may be disturbed by the light. (See Strategies for good sleep)