Our Melbourne Sleep Psychologists Discuss the Importance of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene: Explore Sleep Hygiene with a Psychologist

What a good night’s sleep means for one individual might be different for another. Some people often require more than 8 hours of sleep to feel rested while others might need less.

Tips to Improve Sleep:

  • Use your bed only for sleep (and sex), and not for other activities such as reading. You may try getting up out of bed and reading in the lounge room rather than resting in bed whilst reading.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark with no light coming through the window and quiet during your sleeping hours.
  • Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature – this means it is not too hot and not too cold. Remember to switch off your electric blanket before falling to sleep as you are very likely to wake up uncomfortable or sweaty, and therefore disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid using electronic media such as the computer, television, smartphone, e-reader, or tablet for at least 1-2 hours before going to bed. Research indicates that blue light emission almost works to flick the switch in our brain so that we are not to rest. You will often find it harder to wind down and stop thinking. Our brains are designed to solve problems and the blue light emission from technology alerts our brain that it is not resting time. The blue light emission from screens is found to impact your body’s ability to prepare for sleep as it blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy. You’ll find that you are less drowsy than usual at night due to the use of screens before bed, and therefore it will take you longer to fall asleep.
  • Avoid coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks during the afternoon and evening. You may also find that large amounts of water before bed results in sleep disruption as our bladder will need to be emptied throughout the night.
  • Avoid alcohol as we find sleeping after alcohol consumption impacts our ability to obtain quality and restful sleep.
  • Cut down or stop smoking with help from a medical practitioner. Sudden attempts to stop smoking and nicotine replacement patches can affect sleep.
  • Increase levels of activity during the day. Exercise regularly but avoid exercising immediately before bed. Exercise before bed will increase your body temperature and require time to wind down.
  • Get up at the same time, even if you had trouble sleeping the night before. You may find the day when getting into a good sleep routine, may result in a few days of significant fatigue and reduced energy levels. Do not give in by having a mid-day nap. Keep your bedtime and wake up at the same time each morning.
  • Try not to worry about whether you are going to sleep well, or what will happen if you do not. Try to tell yourself to relax and try to rest with the use of a sleep meditation, your body will take care of the rest.
  • Perform important tasks that require you to focus and concentrate during the day rather than in the evening. Often planning a worrying time, or writing down concerns well before bed, allow you to ‘park’ your worries and revisit these during the day.
  • Practice relaxation or mindfulness techniques when going to bed to help calm the mind and body. Meditation has been found to promote rest even when you are not sleeping. Gently focusing on your breath as you breathe in and out can be a simple, helpful technique.

Our Melbourne sleep psychologists at Positive Wellbeing Psychology will be providing evidence-based sleep hygiene strategies. We will explain why sleep hygiene strategies are paramount to our functioning on a day-to-day basis. We will be updating this space with strategies and tools that help to manage sleep and stress levels. Our sleep psychologists in our Melbourne practice will talk about the importance of “wind-down” routines at the end of each day, but also look at why winding down is so important to our mental health and wellbeing.

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