According to the US Sleep Foundation, “Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases.” 1
In our book, that makes sleep pretty important.
Yet sleeping problems are very common, with 40% of Australians not getting enough quality sleep.2
Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, poor concentration and memory, mood disturbances, impaired judgement and reaction time, and poor physical coordination.3 In fact, the Australian Sleep Health Foundation reports 29% of all workplace errors are a direct result of sleeplessness.4
It can also put you at more risk of accidents and injury.3
Poor quality or lack of sleep over a longer period has also been associated with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity.3
So, if we agree that a good night’s sleep is very important, how do we achieve that?
The answer is good sleep hygiene.
Good sleep hygiene is a term used to describe the habits that will help you sleep well, or at least help increase the chances of you getting a good night’s rest.
Sleep experts have a few tips on developing good sleep hygiene:
Establish a sleep routine
Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Your body and mind will soon get used to the habit.
A screen-free zone
Devices, TVs and laptops have no place in the bedroom. Your mind needs to associate being in bed with sleeping not looking at a screen. The blue light emitted by electronics devices stimulates your brain, so try and avoid. If you use a device for reading, invest in some blue light filter glasses.
Relax before you rest
Try and get into the habit of doing something relaxing before heading to bed. Many people find that a warm shower or bath helps. Try not to think about problems you need to solve. Maybe even learn how to meditate. Some people find listening to white noise useful. It helps synchronise your brain into a slower pattern. In fact, a recent study5 found white noise such as a fan can reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep by 38%. Or checkout a Welcare Sleep-Tight Sleep Sound Machine here.
Avoid caffeine or alcoholic drinks before bed
Alcohol can make you drowsy, but it has been shown to disrupt your natural sleep cycle. Caffeine in tea, coffee or energy drinks stimulate your body too, so are best avoided.
Make your bedroom comfortable and inviting to sleep
Block out light – light is one of the biggest factors to limit sleep: it inhibits melatonin, the hormone to help you fall and stay asleep. If you can’t block light, consider a light blocking mask, such as the Dreamlight masks (click to learn more). They’re comfortable and effective.
Diffuse lavender – especially if you’re anxious. Clinical trials6 show lavender can reduce anxiety by 45% – which may otherwise keep you awake.