There’s nothing worse than hearing your alarm go off, opening your eyes and feeling like you didn’t get any rest. Or tossing and turning all night long before falling asleep only a few short hours before you need to wake up.
We all get a bad night of sleep every now and then but if you suffer from multiple nights of poor sleep there could be a problem, but don’t freak out! You’re not alone. In a 2016 Sleep Health Study of Australian Adults, it was found that 65% are struggling with either sleep deprivation or disturbed sleep. And since we spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, the overall state of our sleep health should be a top priority.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults aged 26-64 get 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. And too few of us actually make the effort to ensure we’re getting those eight or so hours between the sheets. This means that for many of us with sleep debt, we’ve forgotten what being truly rested feels like.
So what are some tips we can follow to get a better night’s rest?
Create a consistent sleep schedule.
Setting up a regular sleep schedule and sticking to it is very important when you’re trying to achieve better sleep. Your body’s circadian rhythm aligns itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times helps the body to know when to produce the right amount of melatonin, the hormone involved in controlling your sleep cycle. If your bedtime fluctuates wildly your ‘biological clock’ is suffering, and your body never knows when it’s supposed to be in sleep mode! Even on weekends, do your best to wake up and go to bed around the same time. Eventually, you might not even need an alarm!
Try to eat 3 hours before bed.
It is recommended that you wait 2 to 3 hours between your last meal and bedtime. This allows digestion to occur and may help prevent problems like heartburn which can keep you awake from discomfort. If you’re going to eat before bed, try eating foods that help the body prepare for sleep. Warm milk and herbal tea are thought to calm and relax the body. This makes it the perfect before bed beverage in contrast to the more popular alcoholic nightcap. Alcohol can make us feel sleepy initially, but actually disrupts REM sleep, can aggravate breathing problems and leads to more bathroom trips leaving us more tired the next day.
Regulate the temperature of your room.
As most of us know, it’s extremely hard to fall sleep when we’re either too hot or too cold. For most people, a comfortable 18°C – 22°C is the perfect temperature to ensure better sleep. It’s a good idea to test a few different room temperatures to figure out what works best for your body.
Avoid bright lights and screens before you sleep.
Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime bright light exposure has the opposite effect. Again, this impacts your circadian rhythm by tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Blue light from electronic devices like smartphones and computers is the worst in this regard. If you have to look at a screen most smartphones have a blue light blocker built in that you can turn on. If not, wear glasses that block blue light or download an app such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer. Where possible, prevent yourself from watching movies and playing on your phone, tablet, or computer right before bed.
Enjoy caffeinated beverages early in the day.
Although caffeine has many benefits, it’s a stimulant that has a dramatic effect on your central nervous system. Caffeine can stay elevated in your bloodstream for 6–8 hours after consuming so drinking anything that contains caffeine after 2pm could still effect your sleep. And don’t forget caffeine isn’t just limited to a cup of coffee, it can be hidden in unexpected places such as, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, soft drinks, ice-cream, pain relief medications and certain medicines.
Invest in the quality and comfort of your pillow and mattress.
Considering that our time spent sleeping is spent lying down, it’s important that you choose a high quality pillow and mattress that you find comfortable. It’s also recommended that you upgrade your bed at least every 8-10 years. We, at A.H. Beard, have created an extensive range of mattresses that offer pressure-relieving comfort, and innovative support that responds to individual weight and movement while reducing partner disturbance. Our mattresses provide a healthy sleep environment and maximise the quality of your sleep.
The bottom line is, getting enough quality sleep is important for your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. And not getting enough or only getting periods of disturbed sleep can lead to long term health effects such as obesity and heart disease.
So next time you wake up feeling tired and sluggish, it might be time to evaluate your lifestyle habits and try to incorporate the above guidelines.