According to the 2017 Sealy Sleep Census, 70 per cent of Australians say their day-to-day performance is impacted by a lack of sleep. This means reduced productivity in the workplace, as well as compromised physical, emotional and mental health. How can we sleep better to reduce the effects of inadequate sleep?
We spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping – and somehow go through entire days feeling tired, or worse still, wake up feeling grossly under-slept. While we can’t avoid the often frantic pace of day-to-day life, or the occasional lunchtime yawn, there are simple ways to improve our quality of sleep.
Set a schedule
Take control of your sleep cycle. Set and adhere to a sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time on weekdays and weekends. This adds consistency to your sleep-wake cycle to routinise and better your overall quality of sleep. It is also imperative to regulate the length and time of napping. Although sometimes we feel like we could nap for hours, The Sleep Foundation recommends limiting naps to approximately 20 minutes to avoid sleep inertia, grogginess and an impaired ability to fall asleep in the evening.
I hate to say it, but cutting (or more realistically, reducing) your caffeine intake will help you sleep better. Although coffee is a useful – and to some, an indispensable pick-me-up used during the working day, because it is a stimulant, consumption too close to bedtime (anywhere between three to six hours) will affect your ability to fall asleep at night, and even your total sleep time. This goes for energy drinks and alcohol too.
It is essential your sleep space promotes relaxation, so ensure your room is quiet, cool and dark. It also helps if your room is tidy to minimise any avoidable distractions.
We know the benefits of exercise are manifold; contributing enormously to good physical, mental and emotional health. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine also helps you sleep better, and longer. Exercise tires the body to promote a readiness to sleep at night, as well as releasing endorphins to reduce stress and sleep easier. Sleeping well can also influence how efficiently you exercise. A good night’s sleep often makes you more focused, motivated and productive on the gym floor.
Give technology the flick
Make a point to steer clear of your smartphone, digital e-reader or laptop before bed. The light that emits through these electronic devices suppresses levels of the sleep promoting hormone, melatonin, and can delay sleep, peeling valuable time off your overall sleep.
There are tremendous personal, physical and psychological advantages of a good night’s sleep. Small adjustments aimed at improving the quality and amount of sleep we receive at night has a great impact on enriching the valuable time we spend awake.