SLEEP & HEALTH

To function at our best we need sleep - getting a good night’s rest is essential for our health and well-being. Nutritionist Danijela Unkovich of ‘Healthy Always’ shares her top tips for getting a great night’s rest.

It doesn't matter who we are, what we do, or where we live, all of us are require sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults aim for 7–9 hours of sleep a night* and while there will be times in our life where our sleep is compromised, maximising sleep where possible will always pay dividends to how we feel the following day.

OUR BEDROOM ENVIRONMENT

To encourage a good night’s sleep your bedroom environment should be your sanctuary, conducive to rest, rather than a place that distracts from it. Find some more things to consider below to ensure you sleep well and stay well ...

Temperature

According to research, the temperature range of 16-19 degrees is ideal for drifting off to sleep*. Try the following techniques to help keep within this range:

  • Dressing accordingly - light breathable cotton pyjamas are ideal for summer and something heavier for winter
  • Use heavier bedding for winter and lighter sheets for summer

Sleeping surface

Considering the amount of time we spend on our bed and its impact on our sleep quality (which then affects our health), it really is the ultimate investment – and it’s a personal decision around what comfort level, feel and size is right for each of us. When a mattress lacks comfort and support, or we don’t have enough space, this can encourage a poor sleeping posture and can be the difference between a restful versus a restless night sleep.  

Darkness

Night is synonymous with sleep and there’s biological reasoning for this – light suppresses melatonin production, a hormone that encourages sleep.

  • In preparation for bed, minimise your exposure to bright lights (especially those backlighting our technology eg, televisions, mobiles, laptops and tablets)
  • Opt for lamps or relaxing bedroom candles when winding down before bed
  • To avoid waking from the morning sun, trial an eye-mask or consider blackout curtains

Minimise technology

We’re in the age of smartphone use and 24/7 accessibility – much to our detriment of sleep. With all its benefits, technology is a double-edge for sleep – it’s mentally stimulating and our brightly-lit devices can impact the release of our sleep-inducing hormone. Just like our technological devices need to recharge their batteries, so do we.

  • Keep the bedroom a strict work-free zone and ideally tech-free (as much as possible)
  • Set a digital curfew and ‘power-down’ for the day along with your technological devices – aim for as much time as you can, but a minimum of 30 minutes to one hour before bed
  • If you use your phone as an alarm clock, always put it on airplane mode, or go for a good old-fashioned alarm clock!

Relaxation

When there’s a lot on our plate, it can be difficult not to take thoughts, pressures and our to-do lists to bed. If you’re dealing with pressure or stress that may be impacting your sleep, try carving out time before bed to help calm, support and relax yourself.

  • As much as possible keep your bedroom as a place of rest, relaxation or intimacy
  • To help unwind consider a relaxing activity before bed, like stretching, reading a chapter of your favourite book, organising yourself for the next day, having a cup of your favourite relaxing tea, or doing some deep belly breathing
  • Or try some mental decluttering, like journaling or chatting to someone you trust about how you’re feeling

CREATING A BEDTIME ROUTINE

Our sleep hygiene is any habit or practice we have in place that help support a restful night’s sleep. One of the simplest ways we can improve our sleep hygiene is to put a bedtime routine in place that works with our lifestyle - a commitment to a bedtime routine can make a huge difference to us drifting off at night. Here are some tips to for creating a bedtime routine:

REFERENCES
* National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Hirshkowitz, Max et al. Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, Volume 1 , Issue 1 , 40 - 43
* Onen SH, Onen F, Bailly D, Parquet P. Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation of sleeping habits. Presse Med.1994; Mar 12; 23(10): 485-9.

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