Whether it’s your late afternoon latte, noisy neighbours, or just too much on your mind, daytime mayhem often means bedtime bedlam.
We work hard to meet our daily commitments, but a lack of quality sleep can play havoc with our bodies and minds, affecting our judgement, mood, manner, and ability to absorb and retain information. If it persists long-term, sleep deprivation can also contribute to obesity, low immunity and even early mortality.
For some of us, falling asleep is an impossible feat, and we spend what seems like a restless eternity staring at the ceiling.
Rest assured, there are things you can do to promote healthy sleep habits. Here are six simple tips guaranteed to help you get more shut eye…
One, cut the caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can keep you wide-eyed; smoking is also known to exacerbate sleep apnea and other breathing disorders. And while alcohol may lull you off to sleep, after a few hours the alcohol wears off and your body will need rehydrating, signalling your body to wake up. We suggest swapping your night cap for a glass of unsweetened milk.
Two, get the right amount of light and quiet any noise. Our internal clocks naturally keep rhythm with daylight and darkness. If you can, sleep in a comfortably darkened room, free from the flashing stand-by lights of alarm clocks or screens. Work and social life permitting, try not to sleep in too late, lest you become trapped in a vicious cycle of late nights and lost mornings. And check your room for sound, always switching your smart devices onto silent.
Three, exercise early. Always aim to finish exercise at least three hours before sleep and if possible enjoy any vigorous exercise in the morning. Exercise stimulates the body, activating the brain. It also promotes sound sleep, so that your body can recuperate.
Four, pencil-in pillow time. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s internal clock. Ensure you get the right amount of sleep and if you have the occasional night out or bout of insomnia, your body will be more likely to successfully catch-up on extra sleep later.
Five, don’t be a clock-watcher. Looking at the clock in your bedroom or on your phone when trying to fall asleep or when you wake in the middle of the night can increase stress, making it harder to fall back to sleep.
Six, try a night-time nosh. The right bedtime snack could help get your snooze back in sync. Combine complex carbohydrates and either calcium or protein, such as wholegrain crackers and cheese or low-fat no-sugar yoghurt – foods that are physiologically calming. Keep in mind – we’re talking snack-sized portions, not a full meal!
Try these six sleep strategies to rest well tonight, and for many years to come. And if sleeplessness persists, chat to your GP.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.