10 tips for better sleep

Understand the power of sleep and why we need it now more than ever.

Professor, neuroscientist and Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, Matthew Walker, has discovered a revolutionary treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes.

You’ll feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?

Of course you are, and the answer is simple. Sleep more.

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society. Every major disease in the developed world – Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes – has very strong links to deficient sleep.

Now, more than ever, take this opportunity to make sleep your priority. Here are ten tips for healthy sleep:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Sleeping later on weekends will not make up for a lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to wake up on Monday morning. Set an alarm for bedtime. We often set an alarm to wake up but fail to do so when it’s time to go to sleep.

2. Exercise is great but not too late in the day
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, most days, but no later than two or three hours before bedtime.

3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
Coffee, colas, certain teas and chocolate contain the stimulant caffeine and can stay in your system for up to eight hours

4. Avoid alcohol before bed 
Having an alcoholic beverage before sleep may help you relax, but heavy use, robs you of REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep. You also tend to wake up in the middle of the night, when the effects of alcohol have worn off.

5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night
A light snack is okay, but large meals can cause indigestion, which interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can cause frequent awakening to urinate.

6. Don’t nap after 3pm
Naps can help make up for lost sleep but afternoon naps can also make it hard to fall asleep at night.

7. Relax before bed
Don’t over schedule your day so you have no time left for unwinding. Introduce a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, as part of your bedtime ritual.

8. Take a hot bath or shower before bed
A warm bath or shower is a wonderful way to welcome sleep. A drop in your body temperature can help you feel sleepy.

9. Be mindful of your bedroom
Do some work on creating the perfect sleep environment. Aim to make your bedroom dark, cool and gadget free.

10. Don’t lie awake
If you’re still awake 20 minutes after going to bed, or you start to feel anxious or worried, get up and engage in a relaxing activity – not including digital devices – until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it hard to fall asleep.

For more information on the importance of sleep, read or download Why We Sleep by neuroscientist Matthew Walker. Walker is in love with sleep and believes we should be too. This brilliant book is a Form1 favourite and filled with startling information about the effects of suboptimal shut-eye levels.

Free books on audible during Corona virus outbreak

As more Aussies stay home from work and kids from school, in a bid to help flatten the curve of Corona virus, Amazon is offering hundreds of audiobooks for free, on Audible. Titles range from preschool-friendly to adult titles and can be accessed via desktop, laptop, phone or tablet at stories.audible.com

And for more tips on personal hygiene, visit our blog with Cynthia Payne from Summitcare.