Along with nutritious food, exercise and social interaction, effective sleep is one of the non-negotiable cornerstones of a healthy life. Insufficient sleep reduces quality of life and increases the risk of physical and mental health problems1, and approximately 1/3 of adults are affected.2,3
Many years of research has led to drugs, supplements and behavioural techniques such as sleep restriction therapy and stimulus control procedures. A major component of the psychological approaches are the rules of ‘Sleep Hygiene’. According to research in this field4, here are the top 10 tips for a sound nights sleep.
1. Change your Circadian Rhythm
Set regular sleep and wake times. This trains your circadian rhythm (internal sleep/wake clock) which not only increases your chances of falling asleep, but makes the sleep within your normal hours more effective. It is true what your mum told you about sleep before midnight being more restful! It is also helpful to get some natural light in the morning.
2. Control ‘Blue Light’ exposure prior to bed with an app
Something which is not traditional sleep hygiene, but has become important, is blue light control. Blue light, as omitted from your phone, tablet and television is destructive to melatonin (the ‘sleep hormone’) production. Avoiding digital devices for an hour before bed is a good idea, or download an amber-light app, such as f-lux or twilight.
3. Choose an effective sleep support supplement
Additional supplements are a great way to help relax the body before sleep, and there are growing global trends towards using all-natural formulas, such as New Zealand’s Puraz Sleep Manager. Sleep Manager is a cutting-edge formula at the very forefront in sleep support. Its scientifically developed formula is based on the very latest research available. It works to support your biochemical ‘relaxation and sleep’ pathways so you can wake feeling fresh and energized each and every day. Importantly, Sleep Manager is backed by a 30-day 100% money back guarantee.
4. Take control in the bedroom!
The key things to control here are noise, light and temperature. Ideally your room should be quiet, dark (although the level of darkness required differs between individuals) and cool, but not cold enough to be uncomfortable.
5. Stop trying and just breathe.
This sounds crazy, but lying awake getting mad because you can’t sleep is counterproductive. The professional advice is to get up, do something relaxing then return to bed. It can also be helpful to remove any visible clock from the bedroom so that you’re not counting the hours until your sleep-deprived self has to get up for work.
6. Keep a ‘Worry List’.
Sometimes our days are so busy that the quietness of bedtime offers our brain an ideal opportunity to present things to worry about. One way to reduce this tendency is to remind yourself that things will feel better in the morning (they will!) and write the concerns down on a worry list. Your brain knows that you won’t forget it, and hopefully will stop the harassment.
7. Customise your caffeine hit.
Contrary to what you might expect, caffeine is not ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to sleep. It depends on things like your baseline level of anxiety and your genetic ability to metabolise caffeine. Everyone knows someone that uses espresso as a nightcap, whereas others must avoid caffeine after lunchtime or shun it completely. A good starting point is avoiding caffeine for four hours before bedtime.
8. Is alcohol your friend or foe?
Alcohol is a double-edged sword. It can help you fall asleep, but then leads to a disrupted and ineffective sleep. Like caffeine, the literature suggests a four hour break between wine and bedtime.
9. Keep your body in motion!
Get some exercise during the day, but not too close to bed time, as this can actually make you feel more awake.
10. Choose the right bedtime snack.
A lack of carbs and energy before bed can lead to reduced melatonin production, or cause you to wake due to low blood sugar. Eating something with tryptophan (e.g. dairy products or a banana) before bed helps with serotonin and melatonin synthesis, as does eating something carby, like a potato, as this increases the uptake of tryptophan. Puraz Sleep Manager also contains tryptophan, so mix this with a carbohydrate source, such as a baked potato, or banana for a better pre-sleep routine.
Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks to improve your sleep and your daytime energy, and if you’re having restless nights it certainly can’t hurt to see if sleep hygiene might improve things. Let us know in the comments below what you’ve found helpful in getting that deep and restful sleep that we all want.
1. Kennaway, D.J. (2002) Programming of the fetal suprachiasmatic nucleus and subsequent adult rhythmicity. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism: TEM. 13(9): 398-402.
2. Ohayon M. (2002) Epidemiology of insomnia: what we know and what we still need to learn. Sleep Med Rev. 6: 97-111.
3. Morin CM, LeBlanc M, Daley M, Grégoire JP, Mérette C. (2006) Epidemiology of insomnia: Prevalence, self-help treatments, consultations, and determinants of help-seeking behaviors. Sleep Medicine. 7(2): 123-30.
4. Stepanski, E. J., & Wyatt, J. K. (2003). Use of sleep hygiene in the treatment of insomnia. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 7(3): 215-225. doi:10.1053/smrv.2001.0246