02 Mar SLEEPING WELL
Good sleep is essential to good health, yet 4 out of 10 Australians don’t get enough healthy sleep.
WHY IS SLEEPING WELL SO IMPORTANT?
It is significantly important to get a good night’s sleep, in order to maintain good mental and physical wellbeing. Getting adequate sleep is detrimental for your health and can ultimately be difficult to achieve when life gets busy.
In simple terms, individuals need sleep so that their minds and bodies can function properly. It helps you to feel good, be more alert, have higher energy levels and improves concentration. Sleep also plays a significant role in keeping the immune system strong and the heart and blood vessels healthy.
The body needs to opportunity to recharge from the day’s activities. Experiencing difficulty sleeping, however, is a common problem. Lack of sleep can lead to:
- Lack of energy
- Poor concentration
DEEP SLEEP VS. DREAM SLEEP
Good quality sleep does not necessarily mean it has to be a long sleep – it’s having what medical professionals call ‘deep sleep’ and ‘dream sleep’. A large majority of what is known as ‘deep sleep’ actually only occurs during the first five hours after falling asleep. Therefore, if you only sleep for four or five hours, you are still on track to get roughly the same amount of ‘deep sleep’ as someone who sleeps for eight to ten hours.
WHAT PROBLEMS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A LACK OF SLEEP?
There are a number of different problems that are associated with a lack of sleep. Our ability to get good quality sleep can be disrupted by physical illness, infection, pain during the night and psychological stress.
Depression disrupts your sleep pattern and as you recover, your sleep will improve. It is also helpful to work towards restoring a regular sleep pattern as this will help you make a full recovery.
Poor quality ‘deep sleep’ can lead to:
- Tiredness throughout the day.
- Poor concentration.
- Aches and pains in the muscles and bones.
- A poor immune system, leading to more frequent illness.
- Longer periods of depression.
Illness or pain can further disrupt sleep. Depression, particularly, can lead to:
- Difficulty in getting to sleep.
- Poor quality sleep.
- Shorter periods of sleep.
- Broken sleep due to frequently waking up during the night.
- Waking very early in the morning and being unable to get back to sleep.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
Over recent years, we have come to better understand the importance of good sleep for our health and well-being. Along with nutrition and exercise, sleep is considered to be one of the significant pillars of good health. Therefore, is important to put a plan in place, aimed at improving your sleep.
It is time to be your best self and enjoy life through achieving better sleep.
There are a number of steps you can take to achieve this and ultimately improve your sleep when you wake up in the morning, during the day, prior to going to bed and whilst you sleep.
When you wake up in the morning
- As soon as you wake, get out of bed. Don’t hit snooze and go back to steep or try to make up for ‘lost sleep’.
- Create a sleep schedule – get up around the same time each morning, perhaps around 7am to 7.30am.
- Make your bed.
- Go outside into the fresh air.
- Perform some kind of physical activity, whether it’s a walk or a gym session.
During the day
- Avoid napping – it will probably take longer to fall asleep as you will be less tired when you go to bed.
- Set time aside each day to solve any problems that may be causing you stress or cause you to worry at night.
- Keep a sleep-wake diary.
- Review your sleep-wake progress with your doctor at each visit.
- Try to complete some physical activity during the day – if you have a very stationary job, this is even more important.
- Avoid any food or drinks containing caffeine after 4pm. Also try to minimise caffeine intake throughout the day, especially if you are finding it difficult to get to sleep at night.
Before going to bed
- Create a sleep schedule, trying as best as possible to go to sleep at the same time every night.
- Avoid using alcohol to help you sleep. The process in which alcohol is broken down in your body actually causes you to sleep less deeply, and to wake more frequently.
- Smoking stimulates the nervous system – therefore it is best to avoid smoking 2 hours prior to going to bed.
- Don’t go to bed hungry or with a full bladder.
- Avoid vigorous exercise late in the evening, this will also stimulate you when you want to be trying to relax your body.
- Allow yourself time to wind down 30 minutes before bedtime and do something relaxing.
- Avoid taking sleeping pills. If you do need to take sleeping pills, try not to take them for longer than a week because they can be addictive.
While you sleep
- Make your bedroom comfortable by creating a space that is quiet, dim and cool.
- Do not sleep with too many blankets or electric blankets. If you are too hot, you will struggle to go into a deep sleep.
HOW TO OVERCOME LONG-TERM SLEEPING PROBLEMS
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real. For some people, sleeping problems may last for weeks, months or even years. Not surprising this may lead to anxiety about getting to sleep, which in turn makes the problem even worse. It can be helpful to take specific steps to break the cycle of feeling anxious and restless in bed. Below are some steps to follow when you can’t get to sleep.
- If you cannot sleep after trying for 15-20 minutes, get up out of bed. Staying in bed when you’re feeling restless will just cause you to become more anxious and will unlikely result in sleep.
- Try activities that are calming and distracting, for example you may want to read a book, knit or enjoy a warm bath. By distracting yourself from your worries, you may find it easier to wind down and become sleepy.
- Go back to bed when you feel more relaxed and sleepy. If you’re still awake after a further 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed again. Repeat this process until you fall asleep shortly after returning to bed.
You can read more about sleeping well here:
Health Direct Article: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sleep
Sleep Health Foundation Article: https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au
ResMed Article: https://www.resmed.com.au/sleep-health/about-sleep-health
Beyond Blue Article: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/staying-well/sleeping-well
Healthline Article: https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body
Health Direct Article: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/how-to-get-a-good-nights-sleep
Reach Out Article: https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-get-a-good-nights-sleep
Head to Health Article: https://headtohealth.gov.au/meaningful-life/physical-health/sleep
If you or a family member are experiencing issues with sleeping well, please reach out. We would love to chat to you. We are here to support not judge.
By Phone 1300 766 925
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