These bedtime habits promote a better night’s sleep
Sleep is officially having a moment: Arianna Huffington wrote a book about it; scientists are broadcasting its benefits like never before; The New York Times even called it “the new sex”. Yet according to The National Sleep Foundation, 45 per cent of Australians aren’t getting our recommended seven-to-nine hours a night. Nearly one-fifth of us have missed work due to tiredness, and 29 per cent say we’ve made errors at work because of exhaustion.
Life First data from more than 30,000 health assessment shows that 20% of people are demonstrating excessive daytime sleepiness, a possible indicator of a clinical sleep disorder1.
So what’s the secret to catching those precious zzz’s? While there’s no failsafe formula for a good night’s sleep, experts agree that adopting some simple daily habits will promote a successful snooze…
- Set a sleep schedule
Turns out a regular bedtime isn’t just for kids – studies show that adults will also benefit from hitting the sack at the same time each night. Research published in the Journal of Scientific Reports in 2018, which monitored the slumber patterns of around 2000 participants, revealed that sleep irregularity leads to increased drowsiness and daytime dozing2. On top of that, over a 10-year period, a lack of sleep was linked to one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. So it’s not just about getting enough sleep, but committing to a consistent pattern.
- Perfect your pre-bed routine
Entrepreneurs across the globe sing the praises of their morning habits, but cultivating an evening regimen is equally important. "Even a 10-minute routine where you do the same things each night to prepare yourself for bed is a good idea," says Shalini Paruthi, M.D. assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at Saint Louis University3. “Our brains need a wind-down period to go from 'on' to 'sleep time.'” Soak under a warm shower, sip a hot milky drink and dim the lights – this helps to relax the body and encourages the production of melatonin4, signalling to the brain that it’s time to drift off.
- Try a digital detox
Put down your device – arguably the biggest threat to our shut-eye is the glowing blue light emitted from our screens. It singlehandedly throws out our circadian rhythm (or body clock) and, as Paruthi explains, “decreases the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel sleepy5. To avoid tossing and turning all night, eschew your smartphone, laptop and TV for two to three hours before bed. If that fails, turn to new technology: light-blocking goggles and screen filters are believed to help decrease the effect of blue wavelengths on the brain.
- Eat mindfully
Small tweaks to your diet can seriously boost your slumber. Consume your last meal as early as possible to let it digest before bed, the recommended time is 90 minutes; a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine confirmed the link between late-night snacking and poor sleep patterns6. And cut the caffeine post-lunchtime – researchers at Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Center discovered that caffeine consumed even six hours before bed resulted in significantly poorer sleep quality and quantity7. Not that it’s all bad news – nuts, dairy, bananas and chamomile tea are all proven to promote a peaceful rest. Sweet dreams.
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