Trouble sleeping? You're not the only one.
A 2016 Sleep Health Foundation survey found that 33-45% of Australian adults don't get enough shut eye. (1)
Some people have medical disorders. Some people find it hard to switch off. Some of us just have kids and have embraced the inevitability of inconsistent sleep for the foreseeable future.
Whatever the reason, we wanted to offer a few tips and tricks to help you catch a few more Zzzzz's.
Sleep Hygiene is defined as the habits and practices that help us to sleep well on a regular basis. There are a plethora of ways to help you improve your sleep so we've broken it down into three parts.
This post deals with what you can do during the day to maximise your sleep. We'll follow up with 'the ideal bed time routine' next post.
During the day…
1. Avoid naps or limit them to 20-30 minutes earlier than 3pm. Naps decrease your bodies sleep drive or in other words, your need for sleep, making it more difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable hour at night.
2. Exercise daily, preferably at least 4-5 hours before bed. Strenuous workouts shortly before bed act as a stimulant, keeping you awake for longer.
3. Ensure adequate exposure to natural light, particularly in the morning. Sunlight is required for the production of melatonin, a hormone that is essential for sleep.
4. Only use your bed for sleeping and sex. This teaches your body to associate your bed with sleep.
5. Take medications as directed. Some will make you alert, others drowsy, try to take them at the same time each day
6. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine 4-6hrs before bed time.
7. Avoid alcohol at least 3 hours before bed. Though alcohol is a depressant that makes it easy to fall asleep, it affects the quality of sleep. It blocks REM sleep (the most restorative type of sleep), interrupts the circadian rhythm, and contributes to snoring and sleep apnoea by causing relaxation of the throat muscles. It is also a diuretic, and therefore increases bathroom trips.
8. Finish eating 3 hours before bed to give the body time digest before sleeping. Avoid heavy meals and foods that cause indigestion. These include citrus fruits, onion, garlic and pepper, alcohol, chocolate and caffienated drinks.
One last piece of advice. Don't try to change your routines and habits all at once. Pick one idea, make it stick and then move onto the next.
See you next week for 'The ideal bed time routine next post'
1. Robert Adams. 2016. Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/surveys/SleepHealthFoundation-Survey.pdf. [Accessed 2 December 2018].