1. Screen time:
We often spend more time on screens than we intend to, and this can reduce opportunities to sleep because it delays bedtime, resulting in decreased sleep time. When watching screens, we are psychologically stimulated, as exposure to bright light suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation. Place limits on your use of devices at night, and switch off devices at least one hour before bed. Removing all devices from your bedroom room can eliminate the urge to use them. Those who live with family, a partner or friends, can also establish household limits on technology to keep each other accountable.
2. Late night snacks or meals:
Refrain from full meals within three hours of sleep time. A high calorie load can make sleep elusive and as the body is busy digesting it can cause sleep to be fragmented and may prevent you from getting deep sleep. This is especially important as we get older, as our metabolic rate slows and it can take longer to digest a meal.
3. Caffeine intake before bed
The chemical properties of caffeine can wreak havoc on sleep if taken late in the day. Maximum caffeine effect is experienced one hour after drinking it, at which point it peaks in our blood. After this, depending on an individual’s metabolic rate, it can take up to eight hours to leave the body. For those who want to get their sleep back on track, avoid consuming caffeine after midday. The older we are, the longer it takes for caffeine to leave our bodies due to decreasing metabolism.
4. Alcohol consumption
It is a common myth that alcohol helps sleep – in fact, alcohol is a sleep stealer. Alcohol can have an initial sedating effect, but it is rapidly metabolised and after four to five hours minimal blood alcohol will remain where the body can experience ‘rebound wakefulness.’ This refers to periods of shallow sleep and multiple awakenings, sweating, and an increased heart rate. Alcohol plays a major role in nearly 10 per cent of sleep troubles, so while the occasional late night of drinking is fine, frequent night caps will have a detrimental impact on sleep. It is best for Aussies to refrain completely or limit themselves to one standard drink.
5. Sleep environments that are too hot, uncomfortable and not sound- or light-proof:
Dark, quiet, cool and comfortable bedrooms are conducive to good sleep. How you cover your body when sleeping also makes a difference. Using tools that bring comfort and aid sleep can be helpful. A white noise machine or a weighted blanket such as Calming Blankets, for example, promote deep tissue stimulation, which can calm and relax the mind and body. This helps individuals ease into sleep and enjoy a deeper sleep, particularly after a stressful day.
6. Late work or study:
Sleep quality is often dependent on how the day is spent, and if it is filled with stress from an overloaded work or study schedule that progresses into nighttime, sleep can be impacted. Deal with the issues of the day in the early evening by spending up to 20 minutes writing down concerns and solutions. Then, close the book and put it away. Those frequently working late could consider having a transparent conversation with their workplace to adjust their workload. Maintaining a study schedule with deadlines and a commitment to work earlier in the evening can also be helpful. Working or studying late can also increase stress and anxiety levels and can be combatted by adding weight to one’s sleep routine, such as a weighted blanket.
7. Inconsistent bedtimes:
Keeping consistent sleep and wake times will regulate sleep and help Aussies maintain quality sleep. Our body craves routine, and inconsistent wake-up times can cause significant sleep issues as our wake-up time determines when we are able to go to sleep that night. When we wake, we set our body clock rhythm for the next 24 hours, including our sleep rhythm. For adults, this is about 16 hours after waking. For example, if you wake late in the morning, at around 10am, you may not be able to fall asleep until about 2am the following morning.
Source: Dr Harrington