Sleep Hygiene – This is a term used to describe good sleep habits. Most of the following Do’s and Don’ts are common sense, however an accumulation of habits over the year’s means that we’re often not getting the rest we need.
✓ Go to bed at the same time every night as part of your bedtime routine. Your body’s internal clock will make you feel sleepy when you’re ready for bed and its important not to ignore this signal. A consistent bedtime routine (ie. brush teeth, go to the toilet) will also signal to the body that its time to sleep.
✓ Get up from bed at the same time each day. This helps keep your body clock synchronized. Try to avoid the temptation to sleep in to make up for a poor night’s sleep.
✓ Get regular exercise each day. There is a body of evidence that suggests that exercise improves not only restorative sleep but also decreases tension and anxiety1. Exercise in the morning or afternoon and not in the evening before bed2.
✓ Try to spend some time outdoors or in natural light. Sunlight in the early part of the day is particularly helpful. Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, helps regulate our body’s clocks sleep and wakefulness and we want production to lower during the day and increase at night.
✓ Make the bedroom as restful as possible. Keep the temperature cool, noises and outside light to a minimum and leave distracting phones, Ipads and televisions in other parts of the house.
✕ Drink caffeine drinks in the evening. This includes coffee, tea and soft drinks. A herbal tea that includes chamomile, lemon balm and passionflower is the ideal way to wind down. Make sure you don’t drink large volumes too late, as you’ll have a broken sleep getting up to go to the toilet.
✕ Nap in the evening before bed. If you can’t get through the day without a nap make sure it’s less than an hour and before 3pm2.
✕ Stay in bed if you’re awake. Wait for 20-30 minutes and then get up and do something boring but keep the light low. When tired go back to bed.
✕ Check the clock all the time. Clocks with bright numbers or looking at your phone will be distracting and will just make it more difficult to sleep.
✕ Use alcohol to help you sleep. It may make it easier to get to sleep but it causes fragmented sleep, worsens snoring and sleep apnea and causes you to wake up early3.
✕ Rely on sleeping tablets. These are a temporary fix, eventually stop working and when you stop taking them you find it harder to go to sleep.
1. Passos, G., Poyares, D., Santana, M., Tufik, S. & Mello, M., (2012). Is exercise an alternative treatment for chronic insomnia, Clinics, 67(6), 653-659. Retrieved from PubMed 19 March, 2013. 2. Sleep Disorders Australia (n.d). Retrieved from www.sleepoz.org.au. 3. Orlandi, A., Ventura, C., Gallinaro, A., Costa, R., & Lage, L. (2012). Improvement in pain, fatigue, and subjective sleep quality through sleep hygiene tips in patients with fibromyalgia. Rev. Bras. Reumatol, 52(5), 666-678. Retrieved from PubMed 19 March, 2013.