Getting enough sleep is essential for your health and overall well-being. Having good sleep patterns allows your body to grow and heal; it strengthens your immune system and keeps your heart healthy, helps regulate your appetite and weight, and improves your cognitive functions.
However, sleep problems remain prevalent in the country, irrespective of age and gender. In 2021, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that 66% of Australian adults experience at least one sleep problem – trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep.
This long-suffering problem has dire effects on one’s health; lack of sleep has been linked to contributing to a wide range of serious health problems such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and mental health conditions.
So, if you have been having difficulties falling asleep, here are some proven tips that you could try out to sleep better.
Maintain a consistent sleeping pattern
The key to better sleep is to have a consistent sleep time every day. Irregular bedtimes will affect your sleeping habits and consequently your physical and mental health. By committing to going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you are programming your brain and body to become accustomed to a set bedtime, and you will begin to feel sleepy as that time approaches.
However, it could take some time for your body to adjust to the new routine so it is important to be realistic, patient, and persistent to ensure you achieve better and quality sleep.
Napping can help rejuvenate your body and improve your alertness, especially if you had a late night and an early morning. However, over-napping can make it much more difficult for you to sleep well at night as your body may confuse napping with your bedtime.
Hence, it is good practice to limit your nap time to 15 to 20 minutes and ensure your last nap is at least four hours before bedtime to keep your sleep schedule disruption to a minimum.
Eliminate distractions from the bedroom
The presence of distractions – electronic devices and work documents – in the bedroom can interfere with your sleep. You have to train your mind to associate your bedroom with the primary function of sleeping.
When you are surrounded by your electronic devices and work documents, your mind is kept busy, thinking of what needs to be done, and struggles to shut down. Furthermore, devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets emit blue light that tricks your body into thinking it is daytime and that you need to stay awake by suppressing your melatonin levels (sleep hormones).
Therefore, it is good practice to treat your bedroom as a place for only sleep. Try to leave your workload outside the bedroom and avoid using your electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
Unwind and relax before bedtime
Your mind must be truly at rest to ensure you get proper sleep – your brain is not going to switch off if you keep mulling over your thoughts. Having a buffer zone before bedtime can help you unwind and relax by eliminating unwanted thoughts, excessive energy, or organising your plans for the next day. This way, you can convince your mind that everything is okay and sorted before shutting off for the day.
Practice healthy eating habits
Your eating habits can affect your sleep – eating too close to bedtime can cause discomfort and may disrupt your regular sleeping pattern. It is recommended that you eat at least two hours before your bedtime and avoid eating heavy meals that require a lot of energy for digestion.
Apart from that, you should also practise eating your heaviest meal in the morning, and having a moderate lunch and a light dinner so that your body and brain can divert the focus from digesting to relaxing. This will allow you to fall asleep comfortably without any discomfort and disruption.
Use medication only as your last resort
You may have turned to sleeping pills or medications in search of a more comfortable and restful slumber. However, these medications do not fix the root cause of your sleeping problems and are prone to causing side effects including dizziness, drowsiness, appetite fluctuations, headaches, abdominal discomfort, and weird dreams.
Therefore, avoid consuming sleeping medications except in extreme cases such as chronic insomnia and other sleep-related disorders where your doctor recommends you to take sleeping pills.
Know when to reach out for professional help
These simple but valuable tips can help you catch a good night’s sleep if you adhere to them strictly. Remember, good quality sleep requires significant lifestyle changes, patience, and consistency. However, if you still have trouble sleeping, you should reach out for professional help as soon as possible. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.
Our GPs at Coolaroo Clinic are always available to help address your sleeping problems and point you in the right direction. Our experienced in-house psychologist can help you with any specific concerns regarding sleep-related disorders. If you have any further inquiries or would like to schedule an appointment, contact us today and our expert team will be happy to assist you.