Recent research by the Sleep Health Foundation found that between 33 and 45 per cent of Aussies have poor sleep patterns. Night after night of sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on our bodies.
‘In addition to the sleep you need every night, lost sleep will accumulate, causing you to need to sleep even more to make up for any hours previously missed,’ says Dr Sujay Kansagra, professor at Duke University’s sleep medicine program.
Try these easy tips to help you fall asleep quickly and soundly for a good night’s rest...
It’s important to be aware of the temperature in your boudoir as this can affect how quickly you drop off. A study from the University of South Australia found that body temperature has a vital role in the onset of sleep.
‘Studies of sleep-onset insomniacs show that they consistently have a warmer core body temperature immediately before initiating sleep, when compared with normal, healthy adults,’ says research fellow Dr Cameron van den Heuvel.
By keeping your bedroom temperature low, at around 18C, you can force your body to do less work cooling down, which will help you fall asleep faster.
VISUALISE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE
Forget counting backwards from 100, try to picture a place where you feel calm and relaxed – it could be on the beach or out in the bush. The idea is to distract yourself from any stresses of the day. In an Oxford University study insomniacs who imagined a relaxing scene fell asleep 20 minutes faster.
INHALE THROUGH YOUR LEFT NOSTRIL
The yoga method of breathing through one nostril is well known to be meditative during class – time to bring it into the bedroom. ‘Lie on your left side, resting a finger on your right nostril to close it. Start slow, deep breathing in the left nostril,’ says Peter Smith, a holistic sleep therapist and author of Sleep Better With Natural Therapies. Five minutes later, you may well be sound asleep.
TRY TO STAY AWAKE
It’s the old reverse psychology trick. Research conducted on two groups of insomniacs at the University of Glasgow found that tricking your mind to think the opposite actually helps you to fall asleep. While one group was left to their own devices, the other was told to stay awake for as long as possible but were banned from moving around or watching TV. And, you guessed it, the latter group fell asleep the fastest.
I’M STILL AWAKE – WHAT NOW?
Don’t stay in bed. Keep the lights dim and get up and do something boring or relaxing instead. The Sleep Health Foundation suggests sitting in another room, in subdued lighting, quietly reading but not watching TV, or using the smartphone or computer. Only go back to bed once you start yawning or your eyes start drooping.
END NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
Worrying about sleep often leads to more nights of tossing and turning. ‘Mostly, we sleep based upon the way we have decided we sleep, so the way we mentally communicate with ourselves (“Oh my God, I hope I sleep OK, what if I have another bad night of sleep?”) has a huge impact,’ says Dr W. Chris Winter, sleep expert and author of The Sleep Solution. His advice: on a night when you can’t drop off right away, don’t stress about it. Use the time to rest or just enjoy random thoughts.
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