We’ve now heard about some of the powerful benefits of sleep yet some of us still struggle to get the recommended 8 hours a night. So, what can we do about this? Below we will explore 12 tips for healthy sleep.
- Stick to a sleep schedule – attempt to go to bed and get up at the same time each day (even on weekends).
- Exercise is great, but not to late in the day – exercise is fantastic but exercising close to bed can increase your body temperature and your alertness making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine – caffeine is a stimulant that can block receptors which sleep molecules (adenosine) requires to make you feel sleepy. Caffeine can take up to 8 hours or longer to leave your system. Nicotine is also a stimulant which can cause light sleep and often makes an individual wake early with nicotine withdrawal.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed – Alcohol can impair deep sleep and REM sleep consequently robbing you of the benefits of these stages. It also causes disrupted sleep and, in some cases, can impact on breathing.
- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night – light snacks are ok but large meals can cause indigestion which can interfere with sleep.
- If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep – some commonly prescribed medications can impact on sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of the medications you are taking might be impacting your sleep.
- Don’t take naps after 3pm – late afternoon naps can reduce sleep pressure which has been accumulating through-out the day and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Relax before bed – unwind before bed. A relaxing activity such as reading or listening to music should be part of your bedtime routine.
- Take a hot bath or shower before bed – this can help you relax but more importantly can help lower your body temperature after the bath or shower. The ideal room temperature for sleeping should be around 18.3°
- Create a good sleeping environment – this includes removing noises, lights, TV’s, tablets/laptops and phones, having a comfortable bed and the ideal room temperature (around 18.3°C).
- Have the right sunlight exposure – getting at least 30minutes of sunlight during the day is important to assist keeping the body’s internal biological clock (circadian rhythm).
- Don’t lie in bed awake – if you are unable to get to sleep after 20-30minutes of trying or you feel anxious or worried get up and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.
If you continue to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep it is recommended that you seek the opinion of a health professional.