Wired & Tired: Sleep hacks
Do you find yourself nodding off during the day, feeling like your eyes have bowling balls attached to them and your vision begins to get a little blurry?! It seems like no matter how much sleep we get at night, we all reach for the snooze button come morning. What if there was a way to wake up feeling refreshed, energised, and maintain that flow throughout the day?
With a few simple adjustments to your bedtime routine and environment, you can experience vast improvements in your sleep quality. Here are some sleep hacks to help you get a sound night of shut eye:
Wake up at the same time every day. Our bodies have an internal biological clock based on the Earth’s cycle of sunlight and darkness. We feel more awake when it’s daylight and vice versa. However, if we deprive ourselves of sleep during the week and try to catch up on weekends, it may throw off our internal clock, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Sleep in a dark environment. In order to have a restful sleep, our bodies rely on the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness. Melatonin is released from the pineal gland in the brain; this gland is very sensitive to light. Exposure to light, even at minimal levels, will cause a cease in production of melatonin. So, when you get up to use the bathroom at night, do so with the lights off! Consider wearing a sleeping mask to block out all artificial light, and if possible, install black out drapery.
Sleep in a colder room. Humans did not evolve with the privilege of having controlled heat in their homes. It’s best to keep the sleeping environment cool to mimic how we sleep in nature.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Caffeine is a stimulant, which increases cortisol levels and causes you to feel more awake. Alcohol reduces the beneficial REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle, causing drowsiness the next day.
Exercise regularly. People who engage in exercise 3-4 times per week have better cardiovascular health and regular physical activity also contributes to healthy cortisol levels. Try not to exercise late in the evenings, as this can cause an abrupt increase in cortisol levels, making it harder to fall asleep. It is recommended to avoid exercise at least 2 hours before bed.
Write down a to-do list for tomorrow. Our minds are usually buzzing before bed-do you ever lie awake at night thinking about the things you need to accomplish the following day? The solution is simple: write down your to-do list the night before so you aren’t worried you will forget something.
Avoid hitting the snooze button. You’re likely to wake up more tired than you did in the first place! Each time the alarm goes off, you’ve signalled to your body it’s a false alarm, and it doesn’t know what to expect-you feel groggier each time you hit snooze. If you’re a guilty ‘snoozer’, try placing your alarm clock on the other side of the room, so you need to physically get up to shut it off. Avoid the temptation to crawl back into bed!
Whether you have minor or a more serious sleep issues, Elevate can help. Our Integrated GPs and our Naturopath can investigate your concerns and develop a health plan to address the symptoms and find the cause.
If you have been diagnosed with or suspect you have a sleep disorder, our sleep and respiratory specialist Dr Kevin Chan can help. To find out more about the Elevate sleep clinic, call 02-9252 2225.