Improve Your Sleep Hygiene for a Great Night’s Sleep

Fatigue

Quality rest is an important part of getting through the daily grind, yet nearly 50% of Australian adults experience two or more sleep-related problems, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and daytime sleepiness. Find out how a sleep hygiene overhaul may help you secure a blissful date with your pillow...

Do you yearn for a good night’s sleep, only to find that sleep does not yearn for you? Quality rest is an important part of getting through the daily grind, yet nearly 50% of Australian adults experience two or more sleep-related problems, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and daytime sleepiness.

While the occasional night of poor sleep is annoying, ongoing sleep disturbances can lead to bigger issues including emotional difficulties, brain fog, poor job performance, and even accidents or injury. Even more alarming, long-standing insomnia is associated with many chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and mood disorders.

The good news is, catching more z’s may be as simple as changing your habits. For many people, bad habits in the lead-up to bedtime, also known as poor sleep hygiene, are a major contributor to a restless night. Read on to find out if a sleep hygiene overhaul may help you secure a blissful date with your pillow, and a solid night’s sleep.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Unfortunately, modern life predisposes us to poor sleep hygiene. A busy social calendar may keep you out late, high-stake stress at work can cause sleepless worry, and a burning desire to stay up late watching your favourite reality TV show (Keeping Up With the Kardashians, anyone?) may keep you on the couch into the wee hours. The occasional blowout is okay, but when these pastimes become regular patterns, it becomes harder to cement a consistent sleep schedule, making it difficult to sleep well.

If you spend every night struggling to sleep, you probably already know that your sleep habits need attention. However, if your issue is more subtle, or less frequent, you may be wondering whether it’s worth taking action. Using the checklist below may help you decide.

Regularly experiencing one or more of the following may be a sign of a disrupted sleeping pattern:

✔ It takes over 30 minutes to fall asleep after getting into bed.

✔ You wake up more than once per night.

✔ You awaken for over 20 minutes during the night.

✔ You spend less than 85% of your time spent in bed asleep.

✔ You wake most mornings feeling unrefreshed.

✔ You rely on caffeinated beverages to get you through the day.

Adapted from the National Sleep Foundation

When Counting Sheep Doesn’t Work, Try This

If you are fed up with moving through life like a character from ‘The Walking Dead’, these simple tweaks to your sleep hygiene may help you shake off sleepless misery. Incorporate the following habits to help you fall asleep faster, sleep soundly through the night, and wake feeling refreshed and rested:

• Go to bed when you feel sleepy. While this may seem like a no-brainer, climbing into bed when you feel alert can create a negative association between being in bed and struggling to sleep, making it harder for you to relax.

• Establish a sleep routine, which will help condition your body to feel sleepy at a regular time. This may be difficult initially, particularly if you don’t feel tired at the same time each night. However, you can help your body synchronise to a consistent schedule by going to bed at roughly the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning.

• Steer clear of electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before sleep and avoid using these in bed. Night-time exposure to blue light from digital screens is stimulating and can interfere with your brain’s production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy.

• Do not use your bed as an activity centre. Your bed is for sleeping and sexual activity only. Avoid other pursuits, such as watching TV or working from bed, to train your brain to associate bed with sleep.

• Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and cigarettes, which can keep you awake or disrupt your sleep during the night.

• Create a pre-sleep ritual. Relaxing activities can help you unwind before hitting the sack and gradually transition your body from a wakeful state into a state of sleep. Your ritual may include stretches, breathing exercises, a hot bath, or sipping on a cup of caffeine-free tea.

• Ditch the alcohol. Many people use alcohol to help them fall asleep faster. However, drinking alcohol inhibits restorative sleep and increases the likelihood that you will feel groggy the next morning.

• Get up. If you do not fall asleep within 20 minutes of lying down, get out of bed and perform a mundane activity until you feel sleepy enough to return to bed. Getting out of bed for a walk to the kitchen and a glass of water allows your mind to ‘switch off” and your body to cool down. There is nothing like a spot of ironing to bore you to sleep. Boredom is key; avoid activities that may stimulate you, such as watching TV, and avoid the use of bright lights, which suppress melatonin production.

A Quick Fix for the Meantime

Changing your habits can take time, particularly if they have been months or years in the making. While you make changes, sleep-supporting herbs can fast track your journey to snoozeville. Remedies such as California poppy, passionflower, zizyphus, Jamaica dogwood, and lavender can enable you to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

These herbs achieve their sleep-inducing effects by stimulating your body’s production of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). This neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) is made by your brain and sends signals to  your brain cells that reduce their activity. It also carries signals to other cells in your body, such as your muscles, helping them to relax. GABA is involved in your body’s sleep cycles, with increased levels during the evening reducing stress, promoting calmness and relaxation, and helping ease you into sleep.

As an added bonus, unlike many pharmaceutical sleeping agents, herbal sleep remedies are unlikely to make you feel jet-lagged the next day.

Make Like a Log and Sleep

Straightening out your sleep hygiene can help you say “goodbye” to clock-watching and “hello” to a great night’s sleep.

While you work on changing your habits, herbal remedies can help you quickly get the rest you need. For more advice on how to achieve sound sleep, or for guidance around which herbs are best suited to your needs, make a time to see me.

Dr Peter Holsman

Integrative Medical Doctor

Other blogs you might be interested in

Beat Stress Before It Beats You

This blog explains how stress causes problems with your hormones, weight, bloating and digestion, ...

Read More

After COVID-19, what will ‘normal’ life be like?

Life will be different after lockdown....

Read More

Practising Gratitude - The Power Of Positive Experiences

Gratitude is a great way to help you become more resilient and adaptable in times of stress

Read More

Do You Feel Out Of Control? - The Covid-19 Pandemic

Feeling out of control is a common emotion in these unsettling Covid-19 times. Find out what you can do to boost your energy, mood and resilience.

Read More

One Way to Help You Better Manage the Fear and Anxiety of the Coronavirus Pandemic

How to boost your emotional resilience..

Read More

Health, Wealth and Relationships

Health, wealth and relationships can get complicated,....

Read More

Is Anxiety Getting the Better of You?

Anxiety is a common problem that often needs help....

Read More

What do you say to your bathroom mirror?

Find out about the power of language..

Read More

How to Boost Your Communication Skills

How to boost your ability to manage difficult people or situations in this blog...

Read More

Setting Boundaries - Ways to reduce anxiety, depression and stress during the Festive Season and life in general

Reduce anxiety, stress and depression by setting healthy boundaries. Find out how by reading this blog....

Read More

Is your home making you more anxious?

This blog discusses how to make your home calming and tranquil. Read on ....

Read More

Cultivating happiness

This blog describes 5 simple ways of creating happiness....

Read More

Welcome to 2018!

Welcome to a New Year of possibilities and an opportunuity to review your goals and resolutions. Read more...

Read More

Is stress getting the better of you?

Stress is a big problem for many people. Click below to find out more.

Read More

How the weather can affect your mood and wellbeing

This blog post discusses how the weather can affect your mood. Click below to read more.

Read More

Stand up and protect yourself from the harms of desk jobs

This blog post discusses what you need to know about healthy work posture. Click below to read more.

Read More

How yoga can reduce stress

Yoga has been proven to have a really positive effect in reducing stress as well as improving fitness.

Read More

Does Pyrrole Disorder Affect Your Energy, Stress or Mood?

Pyrrole disorder, pyrroluria or “Mauve Factor” was first identified in the 1950s by Dr Abram Hoffer. Some people have persistent elevated levels due to abnormal haemoglobin metabolism or synthesis. Elevated pyrroles have been linked with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. Stress, nutritional deficiency, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury can significantly increase pyrrole levels.

Read More

Natural Medication to Boost Your Mood

Anxiety and depression are common concerns for many of my patients and certainly affect millions of people in our country and around the world. Natural remedies can help address stress, anxiety and depression. They can also be used to help support people taking pharmaceutical antidepressants.

Read More