Improve your performance through the power of sleep

Struggling to get a decent sleep? Stress, noise, or a big meal right before bedtime can all take their toll.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, 40% of Australians report getting an inadequate sleep. For half of them an underlying sleep disorder is at fault. The other half? They are just not prioritising their nightly shut-eye.

When we don’t get a good night’s sleep it impacts our mood and memory; our physical health; and our performance (think decision-making abilities, sex drive, reaction times, ability to learn).

Here are 12 ways to get a five-star sleep every night.

  1. Stop eating a few hours before bedtime

Wolfing down a pizza or cramming in a three-course dinner too close to bedtime is a recipe for a restless night. Most people know it helps to curb the caffeine mid-afternoon. But try keeping water and alcohol to a minimum too. For starters it means fewer night-time trips to the toilet and alcohol can cause or increase symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep.

  1. Step away from the screen

Even half-an-hour of screen-free time before bed can raise your level of melatonin – the sleep hormone – and help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.

Instead, try reading, journaling, meditating, hanging out with family or pets, or simply pottering.

  1. Block the blue light

Blue light from devices can affect your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. Use blue blocking glasses or apps to reduce the impact.

  1. Soak it up

Raising your body temperature by having a bath, shower, or even a foot bath, can help you to feel sleepy before bedtime.

  1. Hit the hay earlier

Our body needs time to cycle through the four stages of sleep. If you struggle to go to bed when you know you should try setting a couple of alarms. One for when to start getting ready for bed and another for lights out. Then gradually set them for earlier times.

  1. Get moving

Exercising during the day will help your body feel ready for rest at night.

  1. Get up

Been staring at the ceiling for 20 minutes unable to fall asleep? Get up and read or listen to soothing music and go back to bed when you feel sleepy.

  1. Lighten up

Exposing yourself to natural light or bright light during the day is important for your circadian rhythm.

  1. Stick to the same sleep schedule

Our wake-sleep cycle works best when it is roughly the same every day. Late nights and long sleep-ins on weekends actually don’t do us any favours.

  1. Make your sleeping environment comfortable 

A good sleep environment is free of distractions (phone, laptop, TV, radio, children, pets) and the room should be dark and quiet.

  1. Ban siestas

If you must snooze during the day put a half-hour limit on it.

  1. Don’t worry, be happy

If you’re prone to worrying your way to sleep, write down whatever is on your mind and put it aside. Develop an evening relaxation ritual to get ready for Zzzs.

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