How to get a good night's sleep
Why good quality sleep is important
We all love a good, deep, uninterrupted sleep, but a surprising number of Australians don’t seem to be getting it. Around 40% of adult Australians aren’t getting adequate sleep - either in length or in quality - and it’s happening for a variety of reasons.
Some of these reasons include:
- weight issues
- bladder weakness
- excess stimulant consumption, like coffee
- sleep disorders like insomnia
There are changes you can make to your lifestyle to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. One of the best things you can do is to improve your sleep hygiene.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Ways to improve your sleep hygiene
There are three areas you can work on to improve your sleep hygiene. They include improving your sleep environment, taking care of your body and taking care of your mind.
1. Improve your sleep environment
- Keep your bed for sleeping – try not to watch television, make phone calls or read books in your bed
- Cool it down – the optimal temperatures for sleeping are between 17 to 19C. This might mean you need to get air conditioning or a fan
- Invest in comfortable bedding – make sure that you have a comfortable mattress, a good quality pillow and enough warm bedding
2. Take care of your body
- Eat earlier– try to eat several hours before you go to bed. Heavy or spicy foods can keep you up by increasing your body temperature, making your stomach feel uncomfortable, or cause a late-night bathroom trip
- Avoid stimulants four hours before going to bed– you should limit coffee, tea, colas and soft drinks
- Exercise daily– a tired body needs to sleep, and a great way to tire out your body is to break a sweat
- Get some sunlight – exposure to natural light during the day and darkness in the evening can help to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle
- Try to stick to a good sleep routine – keeping a routine will make it easier to fall asleep at the same time each night
3. Take care of your mind
- Put away the devices– using electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops in the hour before bed can stimulate your mind and disrupt your natural sleep cycles
- Set aside time in the evening to think about your plans and possible solutions – try to keep the hour before your bed as your wind down time
- Don’t watch the time– looking at the clock can stress you out, especially if you start counting all the minutes you’re spending lying awake. Make sure you can’t see the time or access it easily
Keeping track of your sleep
It’s a good idea to keep a record of the quality and quantity of your sleep. That way you’ll be able to work out which practices are helping you get a good night’s rest.
When to speak to your doctor
If you have long-term sleep problems, and regularly wake up tired, it might be time to speak with your doctor to see how they can help.
It’s possible you may have a sleep disorder. There are a number of sleep disorders including insomnia, snoring and sleep apnoea. It’s best to speak with your doctor for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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