Learn to Sleep Better

Sleep is one of those things necessary to survive, but are you getting the best out of your sleep?

Are you one of those people who wake in the morning feeling refreshed, like you have had the best sleep ever?

For a lot of people, this is not the case, even when they are sleeping the recommended 7 to 9 hours per night (for adults).

Why Is Sleep So Important?

Sleep allows our bodies time to rest and recuperate. During sleep our bodies are doing some incredible things; your brain is sorting and processing the day’s information, creating long-term memories. Your pituitary gland is releasing hormones that help the body grow and repair. The sympathetic nervous system needs the opportunity to chill, whilst your immune system releases inflammation-fighting proteins, called cytokines. We’re doing all of this, with our eyes closed.

What’s Considered to Be ‘Good’ Sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation breaks down sleep into three key parts: duration, continuity, and timing.

Duration – 7 and 9 hours for adults between the ages of 20 to 65, this decreases to 7 and 8 hours once we reach 65. During our rapid growth period as babies, children, or teenagers, remember our pituitary gland is working overtime here, the recommendation is between 17 hours for babies and 10 hours when we are reaching the end of our growth period as teenagers.

Continuity – Sleeping straight through the night with minimal disruption is more restorative, as disrupted sleep interferes with the natural cyclical stages of sleep. Evidence suggests that the continuity of sleep serves as a critical role in the support of brain and body functioning and that it is at least as important as the duration.

Timing – Our circadian rhythms involve integration between our body’s internal body clock and the cues from our environment. Light is one of the most important regulators of this biological process, it causes us to feel awake, while dimming or darkness initiates the chemical change to induce sleep. In addition, maintaining a regular bedtime has been associated with reducing the risk of adverse health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.

How to Know if Your Sleep is ‘Good’?

  • Waking up feeling refreshed
  • Having lots of energy during the day
  • Being in a good mood
  • Feeling clear-headed

Signs of Poor Sleep

  • Trouble getting up in the morning
  • Struggling to focus
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • Feeling sleepy during the day or needing to schedule a ‘nana nap’
  • Sleeping much longer or later, on unstructured days

Habits to Live by for Better Sleep

Along with healthy diets, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and keeping active, try to incorporate these tips to improve your sleep.

  1. Be consistent and be kind to yourself and start a bedtime routine. This will send your circadian rhythm to take the cue, that we are preparing for sleep, and stick to it, even on the weekends.
  1. Create a sleep sanctuary, is the room dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature. Try not to use your sleep sanctuary for other activities, such as tv watching, you’re sending confusing environmental messages to the body; is this my sleep time or awake time. Reserve your mattress for sex and sleep.
  1. Remove all those electronic devices, yes, all of them and don’t even take them into your sleep sanctuary. The temptation to have one last look delays the brain’s ability to shut down and sleep, while sound and blinking lights cause those unwanted interruptions to sleep, not to mention the blue light effect and its disruption to the natural production of melatonin.
  1. Try old fashioned print media on the bedside table, and rediscover the joys of reading, to reduce your FOMO of being away from your electronics.

If you are still concerned about your sleep after implementing the tips above, it is important to have a medical check-up with your GP, from this, it may identify that there are stress factors in your life that may be contributing to your poor sleep.  Sleep problems can be symptoms of a psychological disorder such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.  In these instances, the presenting problem needs to be treated before sleep will improve.

The psychology team at Revive is highly trained and qualified to identify and help clients learn to manage the factors contributing to sleep difficulties. So, if sleep quality is a problem for you, don’t put off seeking help, give the team at Revive a call on 08 6381 0297.

Written by

Chantelle Irving

ADip (Accounting), BCom(Curtin), GDip(Ed)

30 July 2021

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