Tips to get a good night sleep
Tips to get a good night sleep
Sleep is one of the most fundamental bodily functions that forms the foundation of good health, yet we appear to be a sleep deprived nation. 1 in every 3 Australians are not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night (1) and 60% of Australians reported issues with their sleep, such as trouble falling asleep or waking in the night (2).
Why do we sleep?
Sleep is a vital evolutionary process that has many functions for our health (3). Some of the reasons we need adequate sleep include:
- Boost memory
- Improve immune system
- Detox the brain, removing toxic by-products
- Improve brain function including learning, concentration, problem solving, creativity and cognition
- Decrease inflammation
- Improves metabolism
- Repairs cells
- Make and produce hormones
- Protect against insulin resistance and diabetes.
Adopt a sleep routine.
Many people have issues falling asleep and this can be an indicator of stress or fight/flight activation. When our stress response is activated, we are primed for running as adrenaline and cortisol (your stress hormone). This can also occur during the night when we wake up, especially if you have a racing mind in the night (4).
One of the best tips for help falling asleep includes creating a sleep routine. This can help the body sync with your circadian rhythm which is the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night to allow your body to sync its circadian rhythm.
- Reduce blue light exposure from your tech devices at least 2 hours before going to bed. Blue light (460nm) reduces your sleep hormone, melatonin.
- Ensure a dark, peaceful cool room with a temperature of 15.5-19.4℃ to ensure comfort and relaxation. Children and the elderly adults have a slightly higher ideal temperature range of 18.9 – 21.1℃. Many studies highlight the importance of reducing external noise and light to ensure a good night’s sleep.
- Aromatherapy oils such as Lavender or Roman Chamomile contain compounds which help to make you feel drowsy and can assist with sleep.
- Meditation has been shown to lower your stress response and in turn improve sleep quality. Taking some time out before bed to relax the mind can be extremely helpful.
- A light protein snack before bed can prevent waking from hypoglycaemia during the night. Not only does protein keep you full for longer but it stabilises your blood sugars which is of particular importance if you have diabetes type 2 or blood sugar imbalances.
What you do during the day can also impact your sleep. If you are having sleep issues, prime your daytime activities for a good night’s sleep.
- Wake up to the sun. Exposure to sunlight in the morning has been proven to improve sleep quality and enhance mood! Try and get at least 5 minutes of sun exposure first thing in the morning by enjoying your morning tea or coffee outside.
- Avoid daytime naps. Sleep quality has been proven to increase at night when daytime naps were restricted, so if you do find yourself unable to sleep at night, try to minimise naps and stay awake during the day.
- Regular exercise is fantastic for a good night sleep, however not before bed. Exercise releases endorphins and cortisol (your stress hormone) which can be stimulating too late in the day, causing sleep problems. Working out in the morning or lunchtime may be better for you if you do have sleep issues as it is often used to reduce insomnia.
- Restrict your time hanging out in bed. Keep your bed just for sleep and not watching TV or gaming, which may raise your stress levels.
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm. The half-life of caffeine is 8 hours, which means it takes your body 8 hours to process and if you are a slow metaboliser of caffeine, it will stay active in your system even longer. This means a 2pm dose of coffee will still be active until 10pm at night. If you need an afternoon pick me up, try a herbal tea or decaf coffee instead.
- Look after your gut. Your gut microbiome plays a role in your circadian rhythm and toxins from different bacterial species have been shown to disturb sleep. Eating fermented foods or taking probiotics can help to maintain a healthy microbiome.
Everyone is individual so it is best to try a few of these tips consistently and see what works for you. If you are having issues with sleep, feel free to pop into store and have a chat to one of our Naturopaths about specific sleep support.
Written by: Mandy Astrop, Naturopath
- Ho, K., 2019. One in three Australians not getting enough sleep. [online] YouGov. Available at: <https://au.yougov.com/news/2019/03/21/one-three-australians-not-getting-enough-sleep/> [Accessed 17 February 2021].
- Reyonlds, A., Appleton, S., Gill, T. and Adams, R., 2019. Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Australia. [online] The Sleep Health Foundation. Available at: <https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/news/special-reports/chronic-insomnia-disorder-in-australia.html> [Accessed 17 February 2021].
- Zielinski, M. R., McKenna, J. T., & McCarley, R. W. (2016). Functions and Mechanisms of Sleep. AIMS neuroscience, 3(1), 67–104. https://doi.org/10.3934/Neuroscience.2016.1.67
- Samvat, R and Osiecki, H. (2009) Sleep, Health & Consciousness; A Physicians Guide. Bioconcepts; Eagle Farm
- Lee, K. A., & Gay, C. L. (2011). Can modifications to the bedroom environment improve the sleep of new parents? Two randomized controlled trials. Research in nursing & health, 34(1), 7–19. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.20413
- Lillehei, A., Halcón, L., Savik, K., & Reis, R. (2015). Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep
- Black, D., O’Reilly, G., Olmstead, R., Breen, E., & Irwin, M. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults with Sleep Disturbances. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 494. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081