By Dr Natasha Nixon, 1st December 2016.
Getting a good night’s rest is fundamentally important to your health. Poor sleep hygiene and interruption can be a contributing factor to a range of health issues including, obesity, anxiety, depression, slower reaction times and degraded memory.
Here are some helpful tips for a restful sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time. This helps to regulate your body's clock.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid afternoon naps.
- Exercise daily - aerobic exercise is best.
- Evaluate your room. Your bedroom should be cool, free from any light and should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep.
- Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using may have exceeded its life expectancy (approximately 9yrs).
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes and heavy meals in the evening. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime.
- Wind down - Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. Using an electronic device, such as a laptop and mobile phones, can make it harder to fall asleep. This is because the type of light emanating from the screens of these devices activates the brain by suppressing melatonin, a hormone that tells the brain to sleep
- Avoid placing mobile phones and other electronic devices next to the bed while you sleep. Your sleep is less likely to be disturbed by a flash of light or vibration of your phone if it is switched off or placed outside of your bedroom.
- If you can't sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is also best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment.