Myths and tips to get your best night sleep

Friday, 28 August 2020

Sleep is as important as healthy eating and regular exercise so it’s worth exploring what we know about how to achieve a good night’s rest.

We present you with common myths about sleep, give you a guide to how much sleep you need to get, as well as four top tips to improve your sleep.

Myth: Improving my diet and exercise are a higher priority than getting to sleep.

Although most people tend to prioritise diet, exercise or even just watching TV, getting enough sleep is important.  Having a healthy diet and exercising can certainly assist your sleep levels but waking up early and staying up late to achieve those goals aren’t helpful either.  Getting enough sleep during the night and ensuring it’s of good quality can be a big benefit for your health.

Myth: Having caffeine in the morning doesn’t affect my sleep quality.

While people all over the world boast about their coffee, studies have shown that an increased caffeine intake can affect sleep, even if it’s consumed earlier in the day.  Even people who state that caffeine doesn’t affect them can have it lasting within the body for up to 24 hours.  When looking to improve your sleep routine, reducing your caffeine intake can be a great place to start.  Common sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, soft drink, energy drinks and chocolate.

Myth: Drinking an alcoholic drink in the evening will help me sleep better

Alcohol can be a regular option for many people when trying to sleep at night but whether it helps or not is highly debated.  However, studies have shown that even though it may help people get to sleep initially, it can also have a negative effect on your sleep quality.  Skipping alcohol and using other methods such as switching off distractions or practising meditation will likely mean a better sleep quality is achieved and be a greater benefit to your health overall.

Myth: It’s best to eat before 7pm

Another issue that can come into play when falling asleep is hunger and fullness levels.  Neither going to sleep hungry, nor going to sleep full, promotes positive sleep.  If it is common for you to eat your main meal later in the evening and be feeling quite full, leaving two to three hours before sleeping might be useful.  Or, if you’re more likely to eat your meal earlier in the evening and start to feel hungry, including a light snack of a high-fibre carbohydrate and a lean protein before bed might be just what your body needs. A balanced intake throughout the day might also help as eating too little could leave you feeling extra hungry in the evenings.  Either way, there’s no set time that you should have finished all your meals by.

Myth: Hydrating before bed is important

While staying hydrated is important, there’s no reason you have to leave all your fluid intake until the evening.  Hydrating when you wake up is often more suitable than just before bed as it can help to minimise the amount of times you need to head to the toilet throughout the night.  This helps your body to maintain a deeper level of sleep where possible.  Needing to pass urine more frequently throughout the night is a common side effect of diabetes and can have a big impact on your sleep cycle.  Chatting to your medical team or even a health professional via the Diabetes NSW & ACT Helpline on 1300 136 588 about how to manage this side effect may be useful.

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.

How can I improve my sleep?

  • Go to bed and get up around the same time each day.
  • Remove distractions such as a TV or mobile phones and wear earplugs if others keep you up.
  • Create a relaxing routine before bed such a hot shower, meditation or relaxing music.
  • Minimise screen time at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

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. You can also read more about sleep and diabetes, here.

Join our community of over 45,000 people living with diabetes