12 ways to get a great night’s sleep

Ready for the best excuse ever to go to bed early? Good sleeping habits will benefit you with more energy, a better mood, boosted immune system and better performance at work, sport and study.

Chilly mornings make it all too tempting to hit the snooze button and roll over for extra zzzzz’s. But did you know that too much sleep can affect our mood and motivation? Ironically it can also make us feel more tired. We all know too well that too little sleep is a major issue too.The trick is to aim for a consistent sleep pattern and focus on the quality of sleep as well as the quantity.

Here are 12 great tips to help get you back on track tonight:

  1. A healthy target is to aim for 7-9 hours each night and aim to keep a consistent bedtime. Try to also wake at a regular time. Aim to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
  2. Get out into natural sunlight. Lack of light can affect our mood. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple step. What a great excuse to read outside with a cup of tea and a great book!
  3. Consider adjusting medication timings if they have sleep related side effects. Always speak to your health professional for personal advice before altering any medication.
  4. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate, sugary foods or drinks in the evening. Give yourself a ‘cut off’ time and ensure it is a few hours before you plan to sleep.
  5. Limit alcohol to one or two standard drinks, as studies have shown drinking more reduces sleep quality. Drinking alcohol has been shown to reduce REM sleep, which kicks in roughly 90 minutes after falling asleep. The problem is REM sleep is considered to be the most restorative. Alcohol can also suppress breathing and encourage sleep apnea.
  6. Ensure you are comfortable. Consider treating yourself and updating your bed, sheets and pillows.
  7. Control the climate and lighting within your bedroom. Try thick curtains to help block early morning sunlight.
  8. Avoid over-stimulation from the computer or TV and aim to always have a few hours free of technology before sleeping. Even charging your phone or laptop in your bedroom could be enough to interfere with your quality sleep as the blue light emitted by your latest favourite piece of technology harms the production of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin. A recent survey showed 45% of us are taking a laptop or electronic device to bed with us or are watching TV whilst in bed!
  9. Try not to over eat at night or go to bed too hungry or too full.
  10. If you find you are sleeping too much during the day and not enough at night then slowly cut back on afternoon naps.
  11. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine and increase your physical activity. A pre-breakfast walk will stimulate the senses and improve your motivation for the rest of the day. While an after dinner walk is also a great idea, stick to a familiar routine in the evening to help your mind and body wind down naturally.  
  12. Keep a sleep diary. This is a useful way to monitor your sleeping habits and find out more about the ways in which you sleep. Common observations, times and total sleep hours should be recorded. Or if you are into technology then try experimenting with a sleep cycle app such as the sleep cycle alarm clock. Most importantly, know when to get help. If problems persist, pay a visit to your local GP and find out more about your condition and ask for a referral to a specialist. If you're dealing with a sleeping disorder then don’t despair because help is at hand. To download a free sleep diary click here. 

Sleep Awareness Week 2015 in Australia is 6th to 12th July. For more information visit the Sleep Health Foundation. Or to take part in the national sleep survey click here.

Do you have trouble sleeping? Join the conversation below…