Sleeping well is an important pillar of your overall health and wellbeing. Getting a regular good night's sleep between 7-8 hours a day is associated with better physical and mental health. These include increased mood, better cognitive performance, and a lowered risk of long-term disease.
Sleep is also critical for memory consolidation, and even clearing toxins from the brain. It plays a vital role in your ability to learn, work, and play effectively. One in three Australians do not get enough sleep.
Are you having difficulties sleeping? or are you looking for resources to improve your sleeping habbit? Take the steps below to understand more:
Understand when and how long you should be sleeping. Individuals aged between 18-64 years old should be sleeping between 7-9 hours a day.
Use this online calculator to determine how much sleep you need.
Is your sleep affected by stress, worry, or anything else?
Find out more
1. Develop a healthy sleep habbit
- Keep a consistent bed and wake time. This gives your body clock the best chance of achieving a regular rhythm. Use an alarm to assist you.
- Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day. Avoid heavy exercise (e.g. running, weight-lifting, vacuuming the house) in the 1-2 hours prior to bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine within 5 hours of bedtime. Caffeine is a long-acting drug which keeps you awake and is contained within cola and energy drinks, chocolate, coffee and other products (check the label if in doubt).
- Minimise or avoid alcohol use prior to bedtime - although it may make you sleepy at the start of the night, as your body metabolises alcohol it causes sleep disruption, awakenings, and can contribute to nightmares and unrefreshing sleep.
- If you stay up too late at night and sleep through your alarm or struggle to stay awake through the morning - try to restrict your exposure to bright lights and alerting activities in the evening, to allow you to feel sleepy earlier. Set your alarm for a consistent time each morning and try to avoid sleep-ins (no more than 60mins).
- If you fall asleep too early - increase your evening activity level along with bright light to help you consistently stay awake until your desired bedtim This will also help you sleep better in the morning.
2. When should you sleep?
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy - this means when you are so tired it is hard to stay awake or keep your eyes open. Do not make yourself go to bed early if you do not feel tired yet, as you will probably just lie awake in bed.
- After about 30 minutes if you haven't fallen asleep or if you are feeling alert and frustrated, get up and do something relaxing until you get sleepy. Then return to bed and let sleep come to you. Repeat this process if needed until sleep occurs.
3. Sleeping tips if you are anxious, stress or have a "busy mind"
- Try some abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or other relaxation exercises daily - ask us for more information on these if interested.
- Don't use your bed for thinking or worrying. If you cannot stop worrying about your problems when trying to sleep, write them down in a book each night before you go to bed and briefly think of the next step to addressing the problem. If the worry returns through the night, remind yourself that it is already written down and you will address the problem in the morning.
- Where possible, reduce stressful life circumstances or learn strategies to manage.