10 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
Written by Hayley Fung, Psychologist Artius Ipswich
Feeling snappy lately? Or simply worn out? Perhaps the solution is better sleep.
There are many factors that can interfere with a good night’s sleep, such as: stress from work or family responsibilities, illnesses and unexpected challenges in daily life. No wonder getting a good night’s rest can be tough!
Sleep is important for our general physical well-being, restoring energy, repairing injuries or illness, growth, mood and concentration. Lack of sleep can result in poor concentration, attention and memory, poor judgement, slow reaction time as well as irritability and problems with mood.
Although you might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Start with these ten simple steps:
- Establish a sleep schedule
Try to establish a regular sleep schedule every day. Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time, even on weekends.
- Create a routine
Develop a bedtime routine to help your body wind-down and get ready for sleep. This can include relaxing activities such as having a bath or reading a book.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
Avoid consuming caffeine (coffee, tea and soft drinks) or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least 4-6 hours before bed. These substances are stimulants and can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Although many people believe that alcohol helps them to fall asleep, drinking alcohol before bed reduces the quality of sleep and the body’s ability to repair and restore itself.
- Avoid screen time before bed
Time spent watching television, smartphones, tablets and computers can reduce your quality of sleep. Screens emit blue light which mimics daylight and can disrupt your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Ensure your bed is for sleep only
Making sure your bed is only for sleep will help your body to associate bed with sleep. Keep other activities (e.g. watching television, working on your laptop, paying bills on your smartphone) out of the bedroom.
- Avoid napping
Napping during the day will make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Naps over an hour long and napping later in the day can be harmful to your sleep schedule.
- Don’t force yourself to sleep
If you have not fallen asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing (e.g. reading a book, writing in a journal). Also avoid stimulating activities (e.g. looking at smartphones, television). This will help to associate bed with sleep (rather than associating bed with wakefulness).
- Get comfortable
Make your room comfortable for sleeping. This usually means cool, dark and quite. Using shades/curtains, earplugs, eye masks, a fan or other devices can help create an environment that’s ideal for sleep. If you have children or pets, try to limit on how often they sleep with you or insist on separate sleeping spaces.
- Incorporate exercise and good nutrition in your daily routine
A healthy diet and exercise can contribute to better sleep. Avoid strenuous activity and big meals for 2 hours before bed time.
- Manage stress
When you have too much to do and too much to think about your sleep can easily suffer. Consider healthy ways to manage your stress. This may include starting with the basics, such as getting organised, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Give yourself a chance to take a break when you need one. Before bed, jot down what’s on your mind so you can set it aside for tomorrow.
These are some tips to help you get a better night’s sleep. Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night but if you often have trouble sleeping contact your doctor. Your doctor will be able to identify and treat any underlying causes that can help you get a good night’s sleep.