Do you run out of sheep to count every night or is that good old 90s tune, Insomnia, totally your jam? According to the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, sleep difficulties plague up to 45% of Australian adults, which can have serious mental, emotional, and physical repercussions. Read on and see if you can make any of these simple amendments to your habits for a better night’s sleep.
Find Your Rhythm and Limit Naps
Our bodies actually like sticking to a routine so getting in touch with your natural circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle is vital for a good night’s sleep. It’s recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per night so try going to sleep and setting the alarm at the same time every day to train your body’s internal clock (and yes, that means on the weekends too). Avoid excessive naps by limiting them to one for 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon, if you need one. It’s important to fight the temptation to nap on the couch in the early evening too by engaging in a mildly stimulating activity, like preparing for the morning or calling a friend.
Put the Screens Aside
The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, and TV can play havoc with melatonin production, which is the hormone that regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Watching your favourite Netflix series, scrolling Facebook, or checking your emails is also likely to be stimulating and set your mind racing right when you want it to slow down. Make sure your brain associates being in bed with sleeping by keeping screens outside the bedroom and try to switch them off an hour or two before hitting the hay.
Set the Scene
Create a boudoir fit for a king to sleep in. Cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable are the keywords here. The optimum room temperature for most people to sleep well is 18°C. If possible, use fans or open the windows to regulate temperature rather than relying on the air con, which can cause and exacerbate certain health conditions. Try to eliminate external noise or mask it with a sound machine or ear plugs and consider dark shades and an eye mask to manage light exposure. Finally, figure out the style of mattress and type of bedding you prefer to make your bed an enticing space for sleep (and sex, which can also help you wind down at night, FYI).
Manage Your Eating and Drinking Habits
Despite the popularity of an after-dinner coffee or post-coital cigarette, both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can keep you awake for hours after ingested. Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta can also be blamed for wakefulness. Is dinner a big meal of the day for you? If you eat large quantities too close to bedtime, any discomfort or stomach issues can keep you up. You may have thought you were safe with alcohol because it can make you feel sleepy but research shows even one glass can impact how restorative your sleep is!
Frankie Says Relax
Nothing keeps you awake like lying in bed ruminating over the day or worrying about tomorrow. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualisation to help clear your mind and reduce strong residual emotions from the day.
Ask for Help
If you’re still struggling to sleep and it’s significantly impacting your daily functioning, keep a sleep diary and visit your doctor who may be able to better assess what’s keeping you up at night.