Sleep 101: quick tips for some seriously good shut-eye

Why is sleep so important? Wellbeing.

Trent Segal is a Sleep Sciences Clinical Educator at The Prince Charles Hospital.

In today’s busy world, it can be hard to entirely switch off and get a good night’s sleep. But a solid sleep schedule has proven benefits in giving us more energy, higher concentration levels and improved general wellbeing – making it an important focus for our overall health!

We know to exercise and eat well, but what else can we do to make sure our sleep is first-class every time our head hits the pillow? Here Sleep Sciences Clinical Educator Trent Segal shares a few ways you can improve your ‘sleep hygiene’.

Tip 1: Stick to a schedule

If you can, try to go to bed around the same time every night. This can be tricky for those with irregular work schedules but attempt to find a way to keep it consistent. It’s tempting to treat yourself to a sleep-in on the weekends but try not to stay in bed for too long to not upset your routine!

Tip 2: Turn off blue lights

Exposure to blue light disrupts your sleep. In the evening, this exposure suppresses the production of melatonin (a hormone), which contributes to the regulation of sleep and wake cycles. Avoid your phone, laptop and TV screens at least an hour before you go to bed and let your brain begin to switch off.

Tip 3: Wind down

Your body needs roughly an hour of downtime before you fall asleep for the evening. Turn on your bedside lamp and swap screens for a calming activity like reading or drawing. Keeping up a bedtime routine like this will cue your mind and body that it’s bedtime and eventually, will know to unwind.

Tip 4: No more siestas

An afternoon nap on the weekend is tempting but try to avoid napping during the day as you might find yourself struggling to get to sleep in the evening, due to oversleeping.

Tip 5: Cut back on caffeine

Try to avoid caffeine six hours before you hit the hay. High caffeine drinks include coffee, energy drinks, espresso, soft drinks, black tea and dark chocolate. Reduce your alcohol intake too. Alcohol can affect your sleep cycle and can cause you to wake up feeling groggy and unfocussed.

If you’re regularly having sleep trouble, you might need some professional help. Sleeping disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy can be treated and managed. Start by speaking to your GP if you have any concerns or questions, or, visit the Sleep Health Foundation’s website.

Want to know why sleep is so important? Look at our other Sleep 101 blog.