Sleep, or at least good quality sleep, can be elusive for many people and one of the most frustrating issues for them. During sleep your body repairs and heals. It's an essential part of good health. For example, lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of weight management issues, poor immunity, Alzheimer's, dementia and depression.
Ensuring my patients have good sleep is an important part of their program of care. It can be a good idea to take a look at your sleep hygiene practices. Are you doing all you can to sleep well?
- Allow enough time to sleep every night, make it a priority.
- Go to bed around the same time each night.
- Wake around the same time each day.
- Don’t nap in the afternoon or evening.
- Carrying extra weight can lead to snoring and sleep apnoea which can severely affect your quality of sleep and overall health.
- Exercise most days of the week – it improves your quality and quantity of sleep.
- Do your exercise earlier in the day rather than before bed time when it can be too stimulating.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, chocolate and nicotine after 2:00pm.
- Have alcohol-free nights and, when drinking, avoid large amounts.
- Ask your doctor to review your medication in case it exacerbates insomnia.
- Avoid large meals or spicy food before bedtime making sure you eat at least 2 hours before bed.
- Eat healthy balanced meals during the day.
- Spend some time outdoors in the sun each morning to stimulate your body clock.
- Restrict fluid intake after dinner to avoid the urge for night time toilet visits.
- Avoid sleeping tablets as these can alter your body chemistry. Try melatonin instead.
- Keep the lighting dim for an hour before bed to encourage your sleep hormone production (melatonin).
- Turn off the computer at least a good hour or two before bed time. Don’t use technology in bed such as iPads, iPhones and similar.
- Don’t keep a television in your bedroom.
- Put your clock radio at the other side of the bedroom, not next your head on the bedside table.
- Take time to wind down and get ready for bed
- Do some stretches and / or relaxation exercises and deep breathing just before you sleep.
- Read something (paper book) non-work related when you get into bed if you’re not sleepy.
- Sleep in a cool, dark and quiet room.
- Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows.
- Don’t sleep with your pets.
- Seek help to balance your hormones and minerals. And, be sure to talk to a professional if you are suffering with anxiety or depression.
- Go to Sleep Disorders Australia for more information www.sleepoz.org.au