Sleep hygiene – what does it mean and how can it benefit me?

We know how difficult life can be if we are not getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

After seeing many people about this issue, we are able to help solve this problem with something called sleep hygiene which is the term used to describe good sleep habits.

Quality sleep is important for our overall mental health and well-being.

Did you know that more than 50% of adult Australians suffer from at least one chronic sleep symptom which increases the risk of disease, mental illness and premature death?

Insufficient sleep is a global problem with serious implications and sleep problems are frequently overlooked by clients, psychologists and other health professionals.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

Sleep Hygiene

Don’t worry – some simple sleep hygiene tips can help!

  1. Go to bed and get up at more-or-less the same time every day even on weekends and days off! This regular rhythm will make you feel better and help your brain produce melatonin which is the hormone that plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle Natural levels of melatonin in the blood are highest at night.
  2. Falling asleep by 10:00pm and waking at 6:00am means you will get 8 hours of sleep.
  3. Develop a sleep ritual to remind your body it is time to sleep 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime – lower lights and noise, have a relaxing bath or shower, pamper yourself with a skincare regime, light a scented candle, do some gentle stretching, breathing exercises, meditation and/or mindfulness, massage your tired feet and shoulders with moisturizer, drink herbal tea.
  4. Avoid strenuous exercise 4 hours before sleep, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and devices. Switch on your mobile blue light filter.
  5. Don’t nap during the day to make sure you are tired at night-time. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is less than an hour and before 3:00pm.
  6. A healthy balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very empty stomach can be distracting, so it can be useful to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can also interrupt sleep.
  7. Bed is for sleeping and sex not a place to watch TV, eat, work, study, pay bills and so on. If you like to read before bed, make sure the book is not a ‘page-turner’ as it will keep you awake.
  8. It’s important that your bedroom is quiet, and your bed is comfortable. A cooler room with  enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make sure you have curtains or an eyemask to block out early morning light and ear plugs if there is noise outside your room.
  9. Keep your daytime routine the same even if you have a bad night’s sleep and are tired it is important that you try to keep your daytime activities the same as you had planned. Don’t avoid activities because you feel tired as it can reinforce insomnia

Over half of Australian adults experience at least one chronic sleep symptoms. Developing good sleep hygiene habits will help improve your quality of life. Following the tips listed in this blog will help you achieve this goal. For more information visit the Australian Psychological Society Insomnia Treatment page. If you are experiencing sleep difficulties and think you may have a sleep disorder and/or sleep problem, contact your general practitioner to discuss your symptoms.

Written by Psychologist, Ailsa Graham.

For more information about Sleep hygiene – what does it mean and how can it benefit me? or to book an appointment with one of our psychologists, please contact us on 1300 405 902 and speak with one of our friendly client relationship officers.

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