YOUR HEALTH FIRST

Healthy Habits Campaign: Week 7 - Six Tips for Successful Sleep

Sleep is a really vital aspect of wellness. It's when our cells rejuvenate, even our brain detoxifies itself. It helps to balance our hormones, and our system functions better when we sleep better.

It is essential that we get enough sleep each night to keep us going through the chaotic work days and family time. Whether it is work-related stress that is keeping you up at night, family life or simply not having enough hours during the day to get your to-do list completed – it is essential to make time for some rejuvenating, deep sleep.

And while three cups of hastily chugged coffee can do their best to undo the pitiful night of slumber just hours before, and 8 hours of sleep a night may seem like an alien concept, there are easier ways to get the best sleep and wake up feeling ready for whatever the day throws at you.

Here, we're letting you in on our six of our secrets for better sleep:

1. Bask in the bath

Taking a moment to fully unwind after a long day is essential for your sleep quality. Having a soak in the bath or even some time under the shower (if your time is more limited) can be extremely effective just before bedtime. As you do so, close your eyes and reflect on the highs and lows of the day you have just had. Then, put those thoughts firmly behind you and open up your favourite book or put on some music (if reading is impractical in the shower).

2. Wind-down

Eating or drinking anything – even water – too close to collapsing into bed can make you feel bloated. Try to get your hydration and nourishment in during the day rather than right before bed. When your body has begun its wind-down process in the evening, along with your metabolism, it isn’t wise to make it work overtime. It’s tired too!

3. Temperature check

If your sleeping environment is too cold or too hot, it makes it hard for the body to maintain its set point for temperature, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

The general rule advised is to keep your bedroom cooler since a drop in body temperature actually signals sleepiness in your brain. Your bedding can also have an effect – if you tend to get very hot while you sleep then perhaps opt for linen sheets.

4. Darkness is key

There should be little to no light in your sleeping space, including electronic devices. Too much light actually tells our brains to start waking up, which not only makes it more difficult to fall asleep but can throw your whole circadian rhythm out of whack, making you feel groggy the next day. Blackout curtains are a great investment. A sleep mask will do the trick too.

5. Ditch the electronics

Surveys show that 71% of smartphone users sleep with their phone within arm’s reach. Sleeping with your phone near your bed can increase compulsive behaviour, depressed mood, insomnia and anxiety. Blue light emitted from phones and computer screens trick your brain into wake mode, disrupting the release of melatonin in our brains, which is our body’s sleep hormone. This affects your body’s natural sleep cycles for the rest of the night.

Research shows that having a smartphone in the bedroom at night time reduces sleep time by an average of 54 minutes. This amount of sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function when it comes to attention, memory, creativity and judgement and also suppresses immune function. To maintain a healthy sleeping pattern, it is advised to refrain from using electronics for at least an hour before hitting the hay.

A good tip is to put your phone on airplane mode. This way, you can still hear your alarm but with your data switched off you are inhibiting any kind of social media interaction. Continuous access to social media has been associated with poorer mood and an overall increase in generalised anxiety.

6. Cut the caffeine

Studies have shown that daily coffee intake can affect your sleep cycle, causing restless sleep and daytime drowsiness.

Caffeine gives you that burst of energy that boosts alertness. So, it makes sense that cutting down on caffeine 6 hours before bedtime – or cutting it out completely – leads to better sleep quality and length, as well as shortening the time it takes to drop off to sleep.

If you're still struggling to sleep, pop into your local StayWell Pharmacy and ask our friendly team about the sleep aids we stock in store. From magnesium to Kalms and pillow sprays, our team will find the fix for you.