Dr Jessica Sammut
6 ways to Optimise Sleep
Updated: Nov 1, 2018
Do you find yourself tossing and turning when you go to bed? Maybe it's because of an injury, perhaps you're restless because you have a lot on your mind. Other times, it could be the food you ate before you went to bed. Here are six tips for getting a good nights sleep.
1. Follow a sleeping routine
Reset your internal clock by getting up at the same time every day. Once you get into this rhythm, your body will naturally start getting tired around the same time every night. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle.
2. Watch what you eat and drink!
Cutting out caffeine after 3pm should be a no brainer, especially for those who struggle to fall asleep! Avoid stimulants like coffee, soft drink, alcohol and cigarettes for at least a few hours before you intend to sleep. You may think that alcohol makes you sleepy, but even that cheeky glass of red can cause a restless night, and increase your chances of waking during the night. Don't go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.
3. Turn out the lights – especially the blue ones
If you are finding it hard to fall asleep at night, avoid looking at screens from your phone, laptop or TV as the light emitting from the screen may be stimulating your brain. Try winding down an hour before sleeping by reading or listening to calming music instead.
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. However, it is best to avoid being active too close to bedtime. Personally, I find I sleep a lot better when I’ve been active through the day, and it can be as simple as taking my dog out for a walk, or standing out in nature and breathing in that fresh air.
5. Avoid day time naps
Even small naps can seriously interfere with your sleep cycle. If you want a solid sleep, try to limit your nana-nap to 30 minutes, and definitely avoid them after 5pm!
6. Manage your worries.
Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what's on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow. Stress management might help. Start with the basics, such as getting organised, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety. If you don't fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you're tired. Repeat as needed.
Remember, Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night, but if it concerning to you, it is worth speaking to a professional to get to the bottom of it. You can also read more about how your mattress, pillows and sleeping environment affect your sleep here.