Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Doctor reveals the bad habits that are ruining YOUR sleep and how to fix them

1. Screen Time:

We often spend more time on screens than we intend to, and this can reduce the ability to sleep as it delays bedtime, resulting in a shorter sleep time. When we look at screens, we are psychologically stimulated, because exposure to bright light suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation. Set limits on your device usage at night and turn devices off at least an hour before bedtime. If you remove all appliances from your bedroom, you will no longer need to use them. Those who live with family, a partner, or friends may also set domestic limits on technology to hold each other accountable.

2. Late Night Snacks Or Meals:

Refrain from full meals within three hours of sleep time. A high calorie load can make sleep elusive, and because the body is busy digesting, sleep can be fragmented and prevent you from sleeping deeply. This is especially important as we get older, as our metabolism slows down and it can take longer to digest a meal.

3. Caffeine Intake Before Bedtime

The chemical properties of caffeine can impair sleep if taken late in the day. The maximum caffeine effect is experienced an hour after drinking, after which it peaks in our blood. After this, depending on a person’s metabolism, it can take up to eight hours to leave the body. For those looking to get their sleep back on track, avoid consuming caffeine after noon. The older we are, the longer it takes caffeine to leave our bodies due to a declining metabolism.

4. Alcohol consumption

It’s a common myth that alcohol aids sleep – in fact, alcohol is a sleep stealer. Alcohol can have an initial sedating effect, but it is rapidly metabolized and after four to five hours, a minimal amount of alcohol remains in the blood where the body can experience ‘recurring wakefulness’. This refers to periods of shallow sleep and multiple wakes, sweating and an increased heart rate. Alcohol plays a major role in nearly 10 percent of sleep problems, so while the occasional night of drinking is fine, frequent nightcaps adversely affect sleep. Aussies are best foregoing altogether or limiting themselves to one standard drink.

5. Sleeping environments that are too warm, uncomfortable and not soundproof or lightproof:

Dark, quiet, cool and comfortable bedrooms are conducive to a good night’s sleep. How you cover your body while sleeping also makes a difference. It can be helpful to use aids that provide comfort and help you sleep. A white noise machine or a weighted blanket like Calming Blankets, for example, promote deep tissue stimulation, which can calm and relax the mind and body. This helps people fall asleep and enjoy a deeper sleep, especially after a stressful day.

6. Late Work Or Study:

The quality of sleep often depends on how the day is spent, and if it’s filled with stress from an overworked work or study schedule that spills over into the night, sleep can be affected. Address the problems of the day in the early evening by spending up to 20 minutes writing down concerns and solutions. Then close the book and put it away. Those who often work late might want to consider having a transparent conversation with their workplace to adjust their workload. It can also be helpful to keep a study schedule with deadlines and a commitment to work earlier in the evening. Working or studying late can also increase stress and anxiety levels and can be combated by adding weight to one’s sleep routine, such as a weighted blanket.

7. Inconsistent Bedtimes:

Maintaining consistent sleep and wake times will help regulate sleep and help Aussies maintain a good night’s sleep. Our bodies crave routine, and inconsistent wake times can cause significant sleep problems because our wake time determines when we can go to sleep that night. When we wake up, we set our body clock rhythm for the next 24 hours, including our sleep rhythm. For adults, this is about 16 hours after waking. For example, if you wake up late in the morning, around 10 a.m., you may not be able to fall asleep until 2 a.m. the next morning.

Source: Dr Harrington