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Improve your sleep with these simple changes

Improve your night’s sleep with these simple little changes to your nightly routine.

Are you having trouble sleeping at night? The long term effects of sleep deprivation are real. It drains your mental abilities and puts your physical health at real risk. Science has linked poor sleep with all kinds of health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system. 

There are some simple changes you can make to your daily and nightly routines that should help ensure you get more zzzzz’s and a better rest each night. 

Put the phone away

This might be the most significant change you can make. The light from our mobile devices (tablets and phones) have a higher concentration of blue light than natural light. Blue light essentially tricks your body into thinking it is daytime, resulting in difficulty falling asleep.

Charge your phone in another room at night. Remove temptation to check social media or the news one last time before you close your eyes. If you use your phone as an alarm, pick up a cheap one from your local Kmart and go back to the days of bedside clocks (your brain will thank you for it). 

Limit your caffeine

Caffeine might not seem relevant if you are drinking your coffee in the morning. However, caffeine is slowly metabolised in the body. Which means even if you drink it in the morning, some of it is still buzzing around your brain at bedtime. This can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. It can also decrease the quality of your sleep. This study found that drinking coffee six hours before going to bed reduced total sleep time by one hour.

You also need to look at other sources of caffeine that you may be consuming closer to bedtime. Many teas and soft drinks have caffeine that may be contributing to your restless slumber. 

Try going to bed earlier

When you get overtired, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol and you will be hit with a second wind of energy. Not what you want just before you head to bed! Try going to bed earlier when you first notice those tired signs. It’s all about finding that sweet spot and getting to bed when your body says it is time.

Reduce any daytime naps

Day time sleeps can mess with our internal body clocks. Although the “power nap” has been proven to be beneficial, limit these to 60 to 90 minutes. Longer naps can negatively impact your sleep at night.

Is it time for a new pillow and mattress?

Your mattress and pillow both have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Pillows should be replaced every year, while your mattress should be replaced every five to 10 years.

Get light smart

Light is the primary cue for our circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). Get exposed to natural, bright light during the day. Open your blinds as soon as you wake up, and be sure to spend at least some time every day outside in broad daylight. Experience darkness at night. Dim the lights after dinner and when you are winding down and use night mode on screens and devices (if you must use them at all in the evening). You should be sleeping in complete darkness. If your room needs lights on during the night, try wearing an eye mask. If you do wake up during the night, try not to let your eyes “see light” (easier said than done) or at least keep it minimal. 

Getting a good night's sleep is good for your physical and mental health. If you are struggling to get to sleep, or waking up a lot during the night, try making these changes to your daily and night time routine.

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