7 habits for better quality sleep
Not sleeping well? You may need to get out of bed. Unless there is a medical condition or medications impacting sleep, sleeping poorly can often be reversed by developing good sleeping habits. In this article, we share some tips that we hope will help you get better quality sleep. For example, according to Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation, if simply trying to get to sleep is keeping you awake you may need to get out of bed to retrain your body. Spending long periods of time in bed sends your body the wrong message that it is okay to drift in and out of sleep.
Sleep and ageing
The recommended amount of sleep for healthy adults, is 7 to 9 hours ― in one block ― each night. As we move into retirement years and less deadline driven commitments, our daily routine changes, and in turn, our sleep patterns.
Through the night when there is reduced light and stimulants, our body makes a sleep promoting hormone called melatonin. As we age, our body produces less melatonin. Ageing brings less deep sleep and more light sleep. Lighter sleep means more likelihood of being woken up during the night.
Medical conditions and medications can affect sleep. Around 10% of Australia’s adult population, or 2 million people, suffer from a sleep disorder, clinical insomnia or sleep apnoea according to the Sleep Health Foundation. Unfortunately ageing related conditions such as Parkinson’s, arthritis and emphysema are associated with poor sleep. You’ll need to seek your doctor or specialist’s advice on how to promote quality sleep, if health issues are the cause of poor quality sleep.
7 habits to help you sleep better
If you are in good health, but your quality of sleep is in decline ― not waking in the morning feeling refreshed is a symptom ― it is time to reset the signals you are sending to your body through the day.
Practice these healthy sleep habits so you can gain the benefits of decent sleep.
- Sleep and rise around the same time daily: try getting into the habit of going to bed at roughly the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning. Yes, even on holidays!
- Cut out ingested stimulants by mid-afternoon at the latest: sugar and caffeine are some common stimulants best indulged earlier in the day, if at all.
- Create a gentle ambience an hour before bed: dim the lights, turn off monitors and mobile devices, turn off or turn down the television, enjoy a bath, play some soothing tunes or read a book as part of your daily pre-sleep routine.
- Don’t fall asleep on the couch: daytime naps and dropping asleep before you go to bed, teach your body that it is okay to drop in and out of sleep regardless of day or night. It is time to reset your body clock, and associate night time, your bedroom and your bed as sleep cues, not stress cues.
- Don’t go to bed on a full stomach: food fuels our bodies for activity, or in the case of children, for growing. As your dinner converts to fuel, you’ll find it near impossible to fall asleep.
- Restrict your bedroom to intimacy and sleep only: our body clocks respond to external cues. If your bedroom has become a hive of activity beyond intimacy and sleep, it is time to reinvent your room to promote sleep.
- Catch a little ray of sunshine and exercise: production of the hormone linked with promoting sleep – melatonin – appears to shut down in sunlight. Catching some sunlight and exercise in the morning, helps maintain your body’s circadian rhythm differentiating night time drowsiness, with daytime energy.
Helpful sleep and ageing related references and resources
Sleep Health Foundation > Ageing and sleep
Australian Centre for Education in Sleep > Sleep facts
National Ageing Research Institute > Public Resources > Sleep
Sleep Disorders Australia > Fact Sheets > Sleep and Ageing