Sleep is important for human function and can impact on all aspects of our lives. If we are not getting the amount and quality of sleep our bodies require this can impact on our psychological functioning, processing speed and efficiency. There are a number of strategies and tips that can be useful to follow to improve sleep which then allows us to be efficient, productive, emotionally stable, and mentally sharp and have a lot of energy to get through each day well.
1. Develop a routine:
- Aim to sleep at the same time each night.
- Try not to oversleep (this includes on the weekends).
- Limit naps to 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon.
- Avoid going to bed before your scheduled time. Instead try calling a friend, getting clothes ready, reading a book to fight the after-dinner drowsiness.
2. Manage the exposure to sunlight:
- During the day, try to exposure yourself to as much sun light as possible (i.e., when you wake up, going for a walk, letting natural light come into your room).
- At night, be smart about your night time light exposure (i.e., avoid bright screens within 1-2hrs of bedtime, try listening to music or audio book instead of watching etc). At bed time, try to keep the room as dark and cool as possible.
3. Engage in daily exercise:
- The more intense the exercise the better. This aids in sound sleep but even starting with as little as 10 minutes walking per day can improve the quality of ones sleep.
- It may take a few months to recognise the benefits of exercise. The goal is to be patient and develop an exercise routine that you are able to follow.
- Aim to finish intense workouts around 3 hours before bed time.
4. Think about your diet and try to avoid the following:
- Caffeine and nicotine.
- Large meals at night.
- Alcohol before bed.
5. Relaxation and winding down:
- Relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and imagery are all useful techniques to help calm your mind.
- Develop a bed time ritual to help with winding down (e.g., taking a bath, drawing, journaling, listening to calming music).
6. Keeping your environment an inviting place:
- Limit noise in the room.
- Try and keep the room at a slightly cool temperature such as around 18 degrees Celsius.
- Have a supported and comfortable bed.
- Try to keep the bed for just sleep and sex.
7. How to get back to sleep:
- Try to do some relaxation strategies such as progressive muscle relaxation.
- Engage in fine-motor non-stimulating tasks such as reading a book.
- Postpone worrying about something by writing it down on a piece of paper and coming back to it in the morning.
360 Health + Community have a team of mental health professionals all over the state who can help you with a range of mental health concerns. Give us a call on 1300 706 922 or visit 360.org.au to find out more and book an appointment.
Mental Health Clinician
360 Health + Community