The ABC's Of Sleep - Your Guide To Sleep Hygiene
Many adults experience difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. While some sleep disorders require medical intervention, intermittent sleep problems are often resolved by developing a simple set of habits called “sleep hygiene”. Recommended by many experts as the first line of defence against insomnia, sleep hygiene is a series of practices designed to support your body’s natural wake/sleep cycle.
These deceptively simple tips have the potential to make a significant difference in the quality of your sleep, and in turn, your daytime energy levels and overall health.
Remember, even a top quality mattress from Regal Sleep Solutions can’t make up for bad bedtime habits!
Wind down before bed
Work, family, and social commitments keep the typical Australian busy right up until bedtime. This is problematic because mentally strenuous activities can cause the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with increased alertness. Stimulating substances like caffeine and nicotine have a similar effect.
While scheduling time to unwind at the end of the day may seem like just one more thing to put on your to-do list, doing so will go a long way in increasing your overall productivity. For at least one hour before bed, try to avoid working, checking email and social media, and discussing emotional issues. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine will suppress the release of cortisol and help your brain associate certain activities with sleep.
Manage your exposure to light
This is a two-part tip: try to get as much natural light during the day as possible and limit bright light in the evening. The principle behind this practice is that approximating a natural cycle of light exposure helps regulate your Circadian rhythm, because light suppresses the release of melatonin, your sleep-inducing hormone. Short-wavelength or “blue” light from electronic screens is the most melatonin-suppressive. If you must use the computer before bed, use an app that warms up the light emitted by your screen.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
As much as possible, try to fall asleep and wake up at a similar time each day. If you don’t get enough sleep one day, don’t try to make up for it by oversleeping on the next — research shows that doing so may actually worsen the cumulative effects of sleep deprivation by further disrupting your wake/sleep cycle.
Avoid alcohol before bed
Even though alcohol can make it easier to fall asleep, later stages of alcohol metabolism fragment sleep by causing intermittent awakenings. Though why this occurs is not yet clear, alcohol tends to suppress rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, an important stage of sleep associated with memory consolidation. In addition, breathing problems like obstructive sleep apnea are intensified by alcohol’s muscle-relaxing effects.
Make your bedroom a relaxing haven
Chances are, you have enough stressors to handle — your bedroom shouldn’t be one of them. Keep your sleeping space free of clutter, and help your body associate your bed with rest by using it for sleep and intimate activities only. Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of a quality mattress. Sleeping on a mattress suited to your body type affords proper skeletal alignment, which carries enormous health benefits.