We have all had those nights where no matter how hard we try, or how much we toss and turn, we just can’t sleep. As the night goes on and the more desperately we want it, the more elusive sleep becomes.
With a decent night’s sleep we feel as though we can conquer anything and the world somehow seems a brighter place. String together a few nights with little to no sleep and everything seems harder and the shine seems to dull in life. Our fuse becomes a little (ok sometimes a lot!) shorter and if you’re anything like me, you tend to eat more and it’s usually food of the less nutritious kind (aka chocolate). Sleep provides a tonic for the mind and body like no other.
At any given time 1.5 million adult Australians are affected by sleep disorders. A report commissioned by the Sleep Health Institute found sleep disorders cost the Australian economy more than $5.1 billion a year 1 and the personal toll on our bodies and minds can be significant.
The benefits of sleep include: 2
- Improved memory and learning capacity.
- Metabolism and weight – the hormone ghrelin which makes us feel hungry is increased when we are tired.
- Improves our judgement, perception and mood.
- Improves our efficiency and productivity.
- Lack of sleep increases the risk of serious accidents and injuries on the road and in the workplace.
Tips to help you get a restful night’s sleep: 3
- Get some exercise during the day as it helps promotes restful sleep. Ideally finish exercising at least 3 hours prior to bed time.
- Avoid caffeinated products for 4 to 6 hours prior to bed time.
- Limit your alcohol intake to no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day and avoid drinking any within 3 hours of bed time.
- Avoid going to bed on an empty or full stomach, ideally finishing dinner several hours before bed time.
- Create a cool, dark and quiet environment in the bedroom conducive to sleep.
- Keep computers and phones out of the bedroom. The blue light devices emit have also been shown to suppress melatonin secretion which affects our circadian rhythms (body clock).
- Research has shown inhaling essential oils such as bergamot, lavender, valerian and lemon can be a safe, cost effective therapy for sleep disturbances.4
- Create a calming routine in the lead up to bed time. Take a bath or shower, read a book, take a moment to do some mindful breathing or simple relaxation exercises (e.g. extending your legs up the wall).
- Go to bed at a consistent time to help set your internal clock.
- If you’re not asleep within 20 minutes, go to another room and do something you find relaxing so as not to get frustrated that you’re not asleep yet.
As with all things health and wellbeing related, give each approach a go and see what works for you. We are all different and unique and what works a dream for one person may not for another.
Wishing you a deep and restful sleep.
- Lillehei A.S., and Halcon L.L. A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. June 2014, 20(6): 441-451. doi:10.1089/acm.2013.0311.