With over 1 in 3 Australians not getting a decent night’s rest it’s time to review how your everyday habits are affecting the quality of your sleep and by extension your day, affecting your mood, energy levels and health!
Set your biological clock
Get up at the same time each morning and spend about 30mins in the sun then at night go to bed at the same time each night – that helps to set your biological clock so that the pineal body in your brain releases the melatonin when the lights go out and you're ready to sleep. As an adult you should be getting between 7-8 hours sleep each night!
Avoid exercising late at night as it can have a stimulating effect which can then make it difficult to fall asleep. On the other hand, doing your exercise early in the day can help promote restful sleep at night!
Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
Many individuals do not have the ability to metabolise caffeine readily! There is significant genetic variation from individual to individual in the activity of the CYP1A2 enzyme which is the enzyme mainly responsible for breaking down caffeine in our body. The effect of a cup of coffee late in the day (even in the afternoon in many cases) in slow metabolisers can have a significant impact on a good night’s sleep and should be avoided!
The stimulant effect of nicotine can also impact on the quality of your sleep as well as consuming alcohol ( although it is more the after effect than the immediate reaction to alcohol )
Avoid large meals at least 2 to 3 hours before retiring.
Limit daytime naps to between 20-30mins and preferably early in the afternoon
AVOID light-emitting screens for at least an hour before bed.
Engage in calming activities such as:
- Relaxation techniques eg. meditation
- having a bath or a shower
- reading a book
A tranquil environment
Your room should be dark, quiet and on the cool side. ( use an eye mask, earplugs and a fan if necessary ). Comfortable clothing, pillows, sheets and blankets can also help.
Use a diary!
Jot down anything that’s on your mind into a diary and deal with it the next day!
Reduce the stress in your day to day life by getting more organised, prioritising and delegating tasks.
See a doctor
There could be other reasons why you can’t fall asleep that your doctor may be able to help with. For example, after the age of 55 the amount of melatonin your body produces begins to decline and this can have a real impact on the quality of your sleep. Your doctor may prescribe you a melatonin supplement to correct this.