Is Your Bad Neighborhood Causing Insomnia?

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

Many cases of insomnia are due to incorrect thoughts and behaviors toward sleep and poor sleep hygiene.

Insomnia can also be a symptom of other health issues including:

Furthermore, some medications and over-the-counter supplements may cause insomnia.

However, many insomnia sufferers may not realize that their neighborhood could be the problem.

According to a study published in Sleep Medicine, the safety of your neighborhood could have a huge influence of the quality of your sleep.

Researchers used data from more than 39,000 individuals across six countries. They found that those who perceived their neighborhoods as more safe enjoyed better sleep than those who thought their neighborhood was less safe.

This isn't the first study to find a link between sleep quality and neighborhood quality. A previous study found sleep disturbances to be associated with neighborhood problems such as social disorganization, crime, noise, and disrepair. Another found a link between poor neighborhood quality and poor sleep quality.

Why does living in a bad neighborhood harm sleep?

Living in a bad neighborhood tends to increase psychological distress, which is known to negatively affect sleep.

It's all too easy for us to then end up in a negative spiral of increasing stress, worry, anxiety, and an ever decreasing quality of sleep.

What can I do?

You don't necessarily need to move! Instead, there are steps you can take to turn your bedroom into a safe, comfortable, and relaxing sanctuary.

1. Make sure your bedroom is a stress-free zone.

Remove electronic devices such as televisions and computers from your bedroom. You want your bedroom to be a place for relaxation, not a place that's full of stimulation, distractions, and potential worries.

2. Reduce bedroom clutter and get things organized.

You want your bedroom to be the first and last place you want to be in every single day. Keep the floors clear and don't let closets or dressers overflow!

3. Make sure your bed is comfortable.

If the mattress is more than ten years old, consider getting a new one. Spending a little extra on high quality sheets and bedding can go a long way when it comes to making your bed a relaxing retreat from the outside world. Interestingly, weighted blankets can help reduce anxiety and make you feel as though you're getting hugged to sleep. If possible, avoid placing your bed against a window wall.

4. Pay attention to detailMake sure your bedroom lets in as much light as possible during the day, but blocks out as much light as possible at night. A good set of blackout curtains can be a great investment.

Mask any external sounds. These can disturb sleep and potentially increase stress. To help reduce external sounds, use earplugs or a sound machine.

Give aromatherapy a try. Lavender, in particular, can help relieve anxiety and insomnia symptoms.

Bring in some nature! Plants can also have a relaxing effect (and come with the added bonus of reducing airborne toxins).

Finally, you may want to consider redecorating. Neon pink may be your favorite color, but it's probably not the best choice when painting your bedroom walls. Opt for calming pastel colors (certain shades of blue can have a particularly soothing effect).


Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free insomnia sleep training course. His online course uses cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia to help participants fall asleep and stay asleep. More than 4,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 97 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.