According to a recent report, nearly two thirds of people in England struggle to get the recommended minimum of seven hours’ sleep every night. A lot of things can affect how well we sleep, from feeling stressed to noisy traffic keeping us awake. This led us to wonder if some locations are more sleep-friendly than others, offering residents and visitors a better night’s rest. 

To find out, our team at CIA Landlord Insurance has investigated which cities across the UK – and the world – offer the best environment for getting a great night’s sleep. We took into account various factors such as air, noise and light pollution, crime rates, and quality of green spaces to crown the winner.

Welsh cities Swansea and Cardiff are the best in the UK for a good night’s sleep

If you dream of getting the perfect night’s sleep, you may want to head to Wales. Swansea and Cardiff rank as the top two cities for a good sleep in the UK, both scoring well across the board for factors contributing to sleep quality. 

Swansea takes the crown in particular thanks to its low air pollution levels (20 out of 100) and high quality green spaces and parks (91.7 out of 100), which also help to purify the city’s air. You may not be aware of it, but air pollution can have a negative impact on how well you sleep, irritating your airways and causing breathing issues that reduce sleep quality. That’s why somewhere like Swansea, with a very low level of air pollution, offers a better night’s sleep. 

Noise and light pollution can both negatively affect sleep quality too. Fortunately, Swansea scored 66.7 out of 100 for its quietness and low amount of light pollution at night, making it easy to tune out the sounds and sights of the city while you rest. 

Cardiff in second place also has fairly low air pollution levels (30.8) and good quality green spaces (83), as well as being incredibly safe. The Welsh capital has the second lowest crime level in the UK after Newport (39.1), meaning you can feel secure enough to sleep soundly here. 

Sheffield in Yorkshire rounds out the top three, once again offering low air pollution levels (30.4) and excellent quality parks and green spaces (87.5), but a slightly higher crime rate (47.3). 

The top 10 best cities in the UK for a good night’s sleep

Rank City Air pollution Darkness & quietness at night Quality of green spaces and parks Safety walking alone at night Level of crime
1 Swansea 20.0 66.7 91.7 54.3 45.3
2 Cardiff 30.8 59.8 83.0 48.9 39.1
3 Sheffield 30.4 63.8 87.5 46.7 47.3
4 Sunderland 12.5 62.5 62.5 59.1 54.6
5 Edinburgh 25.4 63.7 82.1 61.5 61.5
6 Milton Keynes 13.2 72.5 93.4 28.2 56.7
7 Derby 26.9 59.6 77.1 42.9 50.1
8 Plymouth 26.2 54.2 73.6 41.3 45.2
Liverpool 28.2 59.3 79.8 46.1 54.6
9 Reading 27.8 51.1 78.3 45.6 50.1
10 Glasgow 33.6 58.3 82.6 41.4 52.0

Wolverhampton is the worst city in the UK for a good night’s sleep

You may want to avoid Wolverhampton if you struggle to get enough rest at night, as our research revealed it’s the worst city in the UK for a good night’s sleep. 

Not only does it have higher air pollution levels than any other city in the country at 68.8, but it also scores very poorly for noise and light pollution. On top of that, it has a high crime rate (66.7) and received a rating of just 19.2 for the safety of walking alone at night, meaning you may find it hard to relax and unwind here. 

Southend-on-Sea ranks as the second worst city for sleep, receiving the lowest score in the country for the quality of its parks and green spaces (35), as well as having even worse crime levels than Wolverhampton (70.5). This is followed by Bradford, Coventry and Birmingham. 

The 10 worst cities in the UK for a good night’s sleep

Rank City Air pollution Darkness & quietness at night Quality of green spaces and parks Safety walking alone at night Level of crime
1 Wolverhampton 68.8 25.0 50.0 19.2 66.7
2 Southend-on-Sea 45.0 29.2 35.0 19.5 70.5
3 Bradford 62.5 30.6 42.9 27.3 70.2
4 Coventry 42.2 36.5 50.0 27.3 65.9
5 Birmingham 47.1 46.3 58.6 26.4 69.6
6 Manchester 49.6 44.5 53.0 33.5 63.2
7 Blackpool 30.0 33.3 66.7 29.0 64.6
8 London 62.8 45.0 80.4 39.0 63.4
9 Nottingham 45.3 56.3 70.5 39.0 58.3
10 Luton 22.5 54.2 62.5 37.0 62.2

Bern, Switzerland is the best international city for good quality sleep

As well as ranking cities within the UK, we also investigated all 38 OECD capital cities to find out which offers the best night’s sleep. Our research revealed Bern is the winner, thanks to its low pollution levels and excellent safety scores. The Swiss city boasts the lowest air pollution of all cities (6.7), as well as the lowest crime rate (10).

Reykjavik, Iceland follows in second place, scoring particularly highly for how quiet and free of light pollution it is (80.7). We also found that people in the city work just 27.9 hours per week on average, which is fairly low. Fewer hours spent working means more time to enjoy other activities and less stress overall, which can massively improve sleep quality. 

In third place is Helsinki, Finland, which again offers fantastic air quality, great quality green spaces and low crime rates. 

The top 10 best international cities for a good night’s sleep

Rank City Air pollution Darkness & quietness at nigh Quality of green spaces and parks Average weekly hours worked per worker Safety walking alone at night Level of crime
1 Bern, Switzerland 6.7 67.1 84.8 29.4 75.9 10.0
2 Reykjavik, Iceland 13.0 80.7 74.2 27.9 72.3 17.6
3 Helsinki, Finland 9.9 76.4 84.6 28.8 70.5 21.9
4 Vienna, Austria 15.8 71.2 85.2 27.8 68.0 25.0
5 Luxembourg, Luxembourg 15.8 72.0 86.9 28.3 61.1 25.7
6 Ljubljana, Slovenia 27.5 60.0 88.6 31.1 76.7 11.8
7 Vilnius, Lithuania 24.3 69.7 88.0 31.2 64.3 26.4
8 Oslo, Norway 22.7 69.5 86.0 27.4 58.2 34.1
9 Amsterdam, Netherlands 23.0 62.3 83.4 27.4 65.3 30.1
10 Tallinn, Estonia 15.0 67.5 77.5 34.0 69.7 21.6

Bogotá, Colombia is the worst international city for a good night’s sleep

Bogotá, unfortunately, comes bottom of the list, with a higher crime level than any other city (79.1) and a rating of just 19.2 for the safety of walking alone at night. There’s also a lot of air pollution in the Colombian capital (76.6), making it more likely for breathing problems to disrupt sleep. 

Santiago in Chile is the second worst city for a good night’s sleep, with similarly high levels of both crime and pollution. The average number of hours worked per week in Santiago is also on the higher end at 37.8, meaning locals are more likely to feel stress that may negatively impact their sleep. 

Athens follows as the third worst international city for sleep. While air pollution levels are slightly lower in the Greek capital (56.2), it has the worst-quality green spaces on the list (26.9).

The 10 worst international cities for a good night’s sleep

Rank City Air pollution Darkness & quietness at nigh Quality of green spaces and parks Average weekly hours worked per worker Safety walking alone at night Level of crime
1 Bogotá, Colombia 76.6 42.4 55.2 n/a 19.2 79.1
2 Santiago, Chile 80.3 46.4 51.4 37.8 27.9 70.8
3 Athens, Greece 56.2 44.9 26.9 36.3 38.6 58.2
4 Tel Aviv, Israel 49.1 47.8 65.8 36.4 23.8 73.6
5 Brussels, Belgium 63.8 45.1 70.5 n/a 34.9 59.5
6 Paris, France 65.8 41.3 57.6 29.1 37.1 61.2
7 Mexico City, Mexico 81.3 36.6 53.0 42.8 77.7 22.4
8 Ankara, Turkey 60.2 50.0 39.0 n/a 49.9 38.1
9 Rome, Italy 64.6 44.6 60.9 32.6 41.7 55.2
10 Bratislava, Slovakia 34.9 54.8 58.0 31.2 24.6 64.1

Tips for a good night’s sleep

While we can’t control things like air pollution and crime rates, there are certain steps we can take to guarantee a better night’s sleep. Here are some top tips to help you sleep better at night, no matter where you are. 

  • Make time to relax: Stress can make it harder to fall asleep at night and lead to less restful sleep overall, so give yourself plenty of time to relax and destress before bed. Things like meditation and mindfulness techniques can help with this.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene: Good sleep hygiene means creating an environment and routine that make it easier for you to sleep. This might include things like going to bed at the same time every night, making sure your bedding is comfortable, keeping your room dark and limiting caffeine intake. 
  • Get enough exercise: Exercising regularly has many health benefits, including helping you sleep better. However, try to avoid exercising too close to bedtime as this can have the opposite effect and make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Avoid electronics before bed: Devices like your phone and laptop emit blue light, which causes you to produce less of the sleep hormone melatonin. Try to avoid looking at screens for an hour before you go to bed. 

Richard Wayman, Finance Director at CIA Landlord Insurance, comments: 

“Our environment plays a very important part in how well we sleep at night. Landlords – particularly those in the worst-ranking cities on our list – should consider taking steps to make their properties as sleep-friendly as possible for tenants. 

“This could include things like installing double glazing and sealing any gaps to block out noise, hanging blackout curtains or blinds to stop light getting in, fitting air filters or purifiers to reduce pollutants and allergens, and making sure all locks on doors and windows are secure so tenants feel safe at night.”

Methodology and Sources

We created an index to determine the best cities in the UK for a good night’s sleep, based on the top 30 most populated cities (excluding London boroughs).

The metrics considered for each location were:

Each location was awarded an overall index score based on these metrics, then ranked from highest to lowest score. We also created an index of the best cities in the world for a good night’s sleep, based on the 38 capital cities in the OECD. This index used the same metrics and methodology, as well as taking into account the average number of hours worked per worker.

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