Along with nutritious food and regular exercise, getting enough sleep is a key foundation of wellbeing. While we usually recognise the worth of sleep in terms of children’s wellbeing, it’s often the first thing we sacrifice when things are busy.
Research shows adults need around 7-8 hours of sleep per night, with on average 1-2 hours of that before midnight to keep your circadian rhythm working optimally. Anything less than this and you're asking your mind and body to work on overdrive. In the short term, sleep deficit can increase negative moods such as frustration, irritability, sadness and anger; in the longer term it can contribute to significant health problems.1
Here are some ideas for getting more or better quality sleep:
- Go to sleep and get up at approximately the same time each day;
- Give your body time to relax and prepare for sleep. Create a ‘wind down’ routine before you go to bed. This routine may include reading, drinking a cup of herbal tea, listening to some soft music, having a bath or shower, doing some relaxing stretches or gentle yoga - whatever works for you, but preferably screen free;
- Finish eating a couple of hours before going to bed and avoid coffee, caffeinated drinks and alcohol close to bedtime;
- Keep your phone and other devices out of the bedroom;
- If you have a lot on your mind, write a list of things that you need to do the next day well before you go to bed. This can help the brain ‘let go’;
- Find ways to manage your stress levels by practicing relaxation techniques. This has been shown to lead to better quality sleep over time.
1. Adams R., Appleton S., Taylor A., McEvoy D., and Antic N.: Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults; The University of Adelaide, The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health.