Why is sleep important? Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. Persistent sleeplessness may be a symptom of a more serious underlying health problem and should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Lifestyle changes, like de-stressing your life, play an important role in getting quality sleep. See our top tips for better sleep.
15 Top Tips for Better Sleep
Ban blue light from the bedroom (eg. TVs, computers, cell phones); the short waves of blue light may interfere with sleep.
Avoid naps, particularly within 8 hours of bedtime, as napping can sabotage a good night’s sleep.
Block the clock – glancing at the clock in the night may set your mind working about how few hours of sleep remain.
Try a pillow between your knees for back pain – mid or lower back pain may not wake you, but it can disturb the deep, restful stages of sleep.
Put your neck in neutral – bad pillows can lead to stiff necks and poor sleep; choose a pillow that aligns your nose with the centre of your body.
Set your body clock – establish a regular routine of going to sleep and waking including weekends.
Cut the caffeine – avoid the stimulant effects of caffeine in drinks and food after the middle of the day.
Exercise regularly – but not too close to bedtime, as a post-workout burst of energy can keep you awake.
Eat right at night – avoid heavy foods and big meals late in the day as they tax the digestive system and make quality sleep hard to get.
Avoid alcohol at bedtime. It might make you sleepy to begin with, but it actually causes more frequent awakenings and less restful sleep.
Avoid drinking within 2 hours of bedtime to prevent nighttime toilet trips.
Neutralise noise – dripping taps, barking dogs etc. can disturb your sleep. “White noise” like an air conditioner or fan can help block the bumps in the night. Or try ear plugs.
Quit smoking – nicotine is a stimulant, just like caffeine.
Keep pets out of bed – their movements can disturb and they bring allergens into the bed.
Establish a ‘winding down’ routine in the evenings, like reading something calm, meditation, or taking a warm bath.
Even a 10 minute pre-sleep ritual may be beneficial.
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