If you desperately need to rest and you can’t seem to find what are the best ways to sleep better for you then this article is for you.
Whether it’s sleep apnoea, a neurological condition like Parkinson’s disease or M.S. or you’ve never been a “good sleeper” getting good night’s rest is about building strong lifestyle habits. Think of it as your personal snooze ingredients list of small actions to bigger ones vital for your sleep quality and consistency.
You’re likely buffeted by more sleep headwinds than ever before. Being able to navigate stress, changes in work, health, Covid, community and global unrest sounds like a massive task at the best of times.
Well, when the slumber account is low, you bet this is even harder. With a growing sleep debt at some point the body and brain bank will come and collect.
Let’s get in front of this and that’s what this article is here for. Interested?
In this article we answer:
- Why the sleep quality of Australians is under attack
- What has stress and COVID-19 done to your sleep
- How the lack of sleep can affect many aspects of your health and wellbeing (short term and long term impact)
- What common health conditions impact your sleep performance
- What habits (6 of them) can help improve your sleep
- What help you can get to help you explore ways to sleep better
With the non stop stimulation during your day, the social media pings, the possible health changes, and the bad news all happening in your life means going from awake to a deep nurturing sleep is like wading through a treacle.
It’s clear sleep, stress, your health and your daily life choices matter for your wellbeing. The question is, are you getting enough sleep and is it on your priority list?
Let’s look at the slumber situation many Australians face and see if this is like your situation.
THE SLEEP QUALITY OF AUSTRALIANS IS UNDER ATTACK
More than half of adult Australians are suffering from at least one chronic sleep symptom that is affecting their ability to live a healthy, happy life, according to a national study by the Sleep Foundation(2019). A key finding of the study reported:
- Over half (59.4%) of respondents overall report experiencing at least one sleep symptom three or more times a week (high frequency). These include trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep
The link of sleep quality, hygiene (a health speak way to describe your bedtime rest habits) with stress is well established.
And no doubt when it comes to stress, we’re more stressed than ever before.
Stress In Adult Australians
According to the Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey, reports lower levels of personal wellbeing and higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety symptoms in Australians, and that was in 2015!.
So, how does that compare to now?
Sleep, Stress And COVID In Australia
To say it hasn’t been stressful is an understatement and if you’re thinking you’re alone in this, you’re not. A 2020 paper showed the earlier impact of COVID-19 enforced change in our lives.
In short, we are more inclined to negative changes in health behaviors. This has had a direct impact on mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic and some now argue, continues.
So, what are these health behaviours that aren’t good for us?
- Overall, nearly half of all Australians are expected to have reduced their physical activity (48.9%), sleep quality decline (40.7%),
- A quarter report an increase in alcohol (26.6%) since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Australian’s who were were more likely to experience mental health changes middle aged, female and those who had a chronic condition.
A LACK OF SLEEP CAN AFFECT MANY ASPECTS OF YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Short Term Sleep Disturbances And Its Impact On Your Life
A short phase of sleep loss has a almost an immediate impact on your daily life and health.
- Reduced resilience to stress responsivity, emotional distress, impaired memory performance with increasing episodes of forgetfulness, loss of motivation, as well as
- Performance changes at home, the gym, work and driving. For example your reaction times are slowed as if your blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.
Long Term Sleep Deprivation And Its Impact On Your Life
The impact of sleep deprivation, sleep loss and sleep disorders is linked with a wide variety of negative health conditions, including an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and stroke.
CONDITIONS THAT AFFECT YOUR SLEEP AND JUST MAKE IT HARD
Most research has focused on sleep disorders, but there are many other health conditions associated with disrupted sleep patterns.
There are approximately 90 different sleep disorders, most of which are characterized by one or more of these symptoms: excessive sleepiness during the day, trouble falling asleep, and abnormal events occurring while sleeping.
- Common Sleep Disorders: Insomnia, Sleep Apnoea (apnea), Narcolepsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, REM Sleep Disorder
- Neurodegenerative conditions: MS, Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia
- Acquired neurological conditions: ABI, Stroke, Concussions, Brain Tumours
- Mental health conditions : Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia
- Cardiovascular disease, like heart disease, blood pressure
- Respiratory disease
- Musculoskeletal disorders especially those associated with pain or spasms
- Hormone dysregulation, such as thyroid disease
- Gastrointestinal disease from the common heartburn (reflux) to dysbiosis, IBS and pain
This is by no means a complete list.
You’d appreciate when you live with these health conditions and their symptoms it elevates the need to be super vigilant with your sleep habits.
In a way you need to be like a chief and commander. You need to rally all your snooze boosting troops to combat anything that threatens your rest time.
From regular exercise to keeping on top of your health, like your blood pressure there’s a lot you probably are already aware of to help improve your quality of sleep, but what about these….
6 NEW HABITS: WAYS TO A BETTER SLEEP
Much like anything for our body, be it gym, learning, or developing a new skill, it all takes practice. So this is not a one off sleep trick ( much as we would like it, hey).
So to help you land into a nurturing slumber here’s 6 (arguably best)ways to sleep better.
Think of them as pilot markers to test and apply in your life. You’ll note that all the effort is before sleep – not when so much when your head hits the pillow.
1. Metronome Like Timing: keep a consistent schedule
All the time (even on weekends) NOOOOOOOO but yes.
Consistency, rhythm, or sleep schedule this is an important step. If there was one tip to rule them all, this would be a great place to start.
We appreciate the footy, friends, TV show, awesome books, the vino to the “it’s been a big week” and I JUST need to sleep in.
Having the same time for waking up, is like the start gun for your body clock, it’s anticipating to go by hitting the top of the daily stopwatch.
Commit to this, even if you don’t sleep well one night, stick with your set wake-up times. How. much tolerance is there about 15 – 30min. If you’re going to try and start to get up earlier do so by 15min changes.
So, getting up at your set time every day will help you get a good night’s rest the next night.
2.Warm Bath or Warm Shower: modify your body temperature before going to bed
Sinking your body into warm bath appears to help your natural temperature regulation process and as a result supports deeper sleep quality according to sleep experts.
What temperature does your shower bath need to be for a better sleep?
- A warm bath or shower at 40 – 42 degrees Celsius has been shown to support
What’s the best timing to have a bath or shower for improved sleep quality?
- About 1- 2hrs before bed
How long do I take a shower or bath to help me sleep better?
- As little as 10 minutes
A large meta analysis gives real credibility to what ordinary sounds counterintuitive, right? Another study involving elderly people reported that the people in the study “perceived “good sleep” or “quickness of falling asleep” after the bathing condition. Evening warm bath facilitates nighttime sleep for the healthy elderly with insomnia.
3. Stay Off Screens For At Least An Hour Before Bedtime.
The bedroom is a screen free room, period. So, perhaps plug your phone into a charger in another room. Use an alternative alarm clock (not your phone or other smart device).
Safeguard your sleep with the Do Not Disturb, and set it to a certain time that you’re accepting calls.
There is a host of research on the role of light at night and how this impact your internal circadian clock. In short, screen time and sleep just don’t work.
4. Go For A Walk: Get Outdoor Early In The Morning.
Whether it’s overcast, rainy or just plain old cold out there, aim to get out of the house regardless.
You see sunlight is vital to helping you produce your feel-good neurotransmitter – serotonin. This helps you wake up, and produces Vitamin D. There is rarely enough light coming inside and the lighting in most homes is not high enough intensity to get the doses you need.
So, even it’s grey and gloomy, allowing your eyes to get a morning dose of outdoor lighting (note this isn’t direct look at the son, nut the overall light about you) charges you for the day.
5. Establish and stick to a nighttime routine.
No meals or snacks 2hrs before bed, dimming the lights, soft ambient music, a night time meditation, a warm bath, journaling as well as all the other personal cares that happen are the behavioural scaffolding to help you get to sleep.
6. Assistive NeuroTechnology To Help You Sleep Better
We love sharing assistive neurotechnology tools to help your sleep such as Apollo Neuro. It takes a lot of the “thinking” out of sleep preparation. It has been a valuable tool for many folk who really struggle to do mindful exercises such as breathing or focused attention exercises to help with sleep. We’ll do a review on this one in the near future, stay tuned.
Now it is over to you. What will you do? Which of these ways to a better sleep speaks to you? What can you see yourself being successful with here?
NEED HELP TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT YOUR SLEEP HEALTH? HERE’S HOW WE MAY HELP
Sleep is an essential activity of life, a “task” that really does occupy a lot of your time. An OT can help you to improve your sleep by helping you to get better at sleeping, set up right strategies, prescribe the right tools and equipment to get a good night’s sleep.
It’s clear sleep issues can impact your ability to work, drive, play, do your banking as it can affect your attention, thinking and memory skills.
And we’re big on protecting your memory and brain health!
If you’re not sure where to start, or you’re concerned about your sleep at OT Brisbane we offer services which includes
- Lifestyle Assessment: To help identify what impacts your sleep
- Memory and Thinking Assessment: Get a check up of your cognitive skills and learn what you can do to do improve them so you can do what matters in your life.
You’ll get a plan to help you reduce your risks and improve your brain and sleep health so you can do what matters in your life.
If this is of interest and you’d like to learn more, please contact us HERE or call 1300 783 200.