A 2019 report released by the Sleep Health Foundation states that approximately one in five Australians are estimated to be affected by a major sleep disorders. And about 60% of the adult population regularly experience symptoms of difficulty sleeping or staying asleep.
Despite the fact that chronic sleep problems can lead to many physical and mental health issues, with the addition of accidents resulting to injury due to sleep deprivation and poor mental health, the report found that only a few Australians have reported sleep issues with their doctors.
On a different blog, we’ve covered the importance of sleep and found that regularly getting less than 7-8 hours can negatively impact both our athletic performance and general health. We often ask, so how much sleep do I need? The average person requires between 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to function at best. Unfortunately, most of us are not hitting the target.
What is sleep hygiene?
There are a series of habits, rituals, or practices that pave the way and prepare the body and mind for a deep sleep and these are called sleep hygiene. While taking prescribed medication and readily accessible sleeping pills are effective in the short-term, simpler, and more natural practices will go far and help one develop good sleeping patterns.
Improving one’s sleep hygiene has zero cost and virtually no risks making it an important public health strategy to counteract serious chronic sleeping issues.
How do you practice sleep hygiene?
Here are some tips on how you can practice better sleep hygiene:
1. Set a sleeping schedule
One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to set a proper bedtime.This regular rhythm willsend signals to your brain and body to get accustomed to getting the full amount of sleep needed.
Like bedtime schedules, it is also important to seta fixed wake-up time, evenregardless of whetherit is a weekday or weekend. Get enough morning sunshine, as exposure to light helps to set your body clock.
2. Improve your sleeping environment
It is said that how you prepare for bed can determine how easilyyou’ll be able to fall asleep.
- Keep a good sleep time routine foreg. putting on pajamas, brushing your teethand etc. can let the mind know it’s time for bed.
- Dim your lights, unplug, and put away devices. Avoid the habit of scrolling through social media while waiting to drift off.
- Set the mood and try to relax with whatever helps you to unwind whether it be through soothing music, light stretching, meditation, or through diffused natural fragrances.
3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
Avoid consuming any caffeinated products (coffee, black tea, cola, drinks or some medication) or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least 4-6 hours before bedtime as these substances are stimulants and interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
How about alcohol? Although some types of alcohol may help one become sleepy or relaxing, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, so it actually interrupts the quality of sleep by increasing the number of awakenings at night.
4. Exercise early
Regular exercise helps you sleep faster and sleep soundly. Exercise impacts sleep quality by raising body temperature a few degrees which results to an internal thermostat drop at night causing one to be drowsy and promote a good sleep.
5. Keep it light at dinner
Eating late at night may not be the problem but eating the wrong foods especially in largeamountsmay be a recipe for insomnia. Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid types of food that may cause indigestion.