Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

Monday, 6 April 2020

Sleep is essential for maintaining our health and mood. A good night’s sleep can also boost our immune function and help us deal with stress. Sleep is as important as healthy eating and regular exercise but, at any given time, almost half of the Australian adult population reports being impacted by insomnia. That’s a lot of us who aren’t sleeping well.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons we’re not sleeping well and the actions we can take to get a good night’s rest.

Tips to getting a good night’s sleep

Reasons for lack of sleep Why it prevents sleep Actions you can take
Too much caffeine Stimulants prevent you from sleeping Limit caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drink, energy drinks and chocolate, particularly in the afternoon and evening
Too much alcohol Alcohol causes drowsiness, but it can also create an interrupted, restless sleep Avoid using alcohol to help you get to sleep. Try other methods of relaxation (see below)
Over use of sleeping tablets Overtime, sleeping tablets may stop working well. You may also become addicted Use sleeping tablets with care and discuss alternate options with your GP
Eating and drinking too close to bedtime

 

Eating and drinking late can lead to heartburn and discomfort in your chest or stomach
  • Avoid late meals and snacks before bedtime. If needed, snacks should be small and light
  • Limit fluids before bedtime so that you don’t have to get up to the toilet during the night
  • Do some light exercise lightly after dinner – walk, stretch or ride a bike
Stress

 

Day-to-day living can be stressful, and can interfere with sleep. It impacts our ability to off our brains and negative thoughts
  • Take time to relax and unwind before going to bed
  • Turn off the TV and digital devices an hour before bed
  • Concentrate on positive things that happened in your day
  • Read a book, listen to music, or take a bath
  • Speak with your diabetes care team about ways to make your life less stressful
Sleep disorders

 

Insomnia, sleep apnoea and restless legs can affect your ability to fall, and stay, sleep Speak with your GP about ways to manage sleep disorders. The Sleep Foundation also has information to help those who suffer from sleep disorders
Failing to wind down before bed

 

Exercising, playing computer games and watching TV too close to bedtime can disturb sleep. Give your brain time to wind down and relax.
  • Reserve your last waking hour to relaxing
  • Read a book or magazine, doing some stretches or breathing
  • Listen to soothing music
 

Other medical conditions

 

Asthma, arthritis, anxiety and depression may disturb sleep Speak with your GP about ways to help manage other health conditions to reduce the impact on your sleep
Drug side effects Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can have side effects that disturb sleep Speak with your GP about all your medications. There may be other options for you

How much sleep do I need?

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, adults need between seven to nine hours sleep per night. However, the amount of sleep suitable for one person may be different to another. Speaking with your health care team about the amount of sleep and sleep quality you experience may be useful.

Sleep is essential for our physical and emotional health, our muscles and immune system, balancing our hunger and fullness levels, and many other processes within our body.

Good sleep may not happen overnight but over time, creating positive habits will help to improve both your sleep and your health in the long term. The Sleep Foundation also has some useful resources when looking to get a good night’s sleep such as their information on Mindfulness which you can view, here.

If stress is impacting your sleep, our Psychologist on Call can guide you through ways to manage your stress. Call our Helpline on 1300 342 238 is you need some extra support.

For additional information on how to improve your sleep visit the Australian Sleep Health Foundation.

 

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