LIFE AND ADVICE

World Sleep Day: Our best sleep hygiene tips

Happy snoozing!
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Are you finding yourself favouring your phone over a good night’s sleep? Or succumbing to stress as soon as you shut your eyes? We’ve been there. A lack of quality sleep can often leave you a grumpy mess with the attention span of a goldfish.

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And it’s tough – there are a million things to distract us, whether it’s social media, the news, the stress of school, or the constant flash of notifications on our screens.

It’s a lot to contend with, so this World Sleep Day, we’ve enlisted the help of stress expert Dr. Chris Seton from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research to figure out how to master sleep hygiene, which is just the healthy habits and behaviours that allow you to doze off quickly.

Read on ahead for our best tips and tricks for great sleep hygiene.

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Falling asleep on the job? (Credit: Getty)

Fight or Flight

First of all, are you finding your brain just won’t power down? Apparently, that’s your fight or flight response, which is the common psychological urge to either run away or stand your ground when you’re in a particularly stressful situation.

“When you’re stressed, there’s an outpouring of neurochemicals including cortisol (a steroid), and adrenalin, and these hormones wake you up,” Dr Chris says.

“They’re the same chemicals that would occur if you were walking through the jungle and a tiger jumped out in front of you, so you can run fast.

“Basically, stress causes these chemicals to keep you alert and therefore unable to sleep properly.”

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Try adding stretching to your nighttime routine. (Credit: Getty)

Get some zzz’s

Now that you know your alert brain and body are just responding to a stressy chemical cocktail, Dr Chris says there are a couple of things that can help.

While things like meditation or active mindfulness might help you, another option is a solid pre-bedtime routine.

While this won’t solve it instantly, repeating this method over three to four weeks can get the brain to sleep within 15 minutes of going to bed, according to Dr Chris. He recommends these routines.

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Put that phone down! (Credit: Getty)

One hour before bed

Think about what exactly is stressing you out at least an hour before you go to bed, to ‘get it out of the way’. Write it down, observe and think, then put it out of your mind.

45 minutes before bed

This is when relaxing activities should begin to get you sleepy. This can include meditation to take your mind off negative feelings (there are heaps of apps that take only a few minutes), yoga, stretching, reading, drinking a nice decaffeinated tea, or listening to some chilled music. Pick three things and stick to them each and every night.

Avoid screens

Ah that dreaded bit of advice! While it’s easy to lay in bed scrolling TikTok before you try to grab some shut-eye, the stimulation is not what your sleepy brain needs. The brightness of electronic screens actually suppresses the sleep hormone (melatonin). If keeping off your phone seems too hard, you can use the Screen Time settings on your iPhone to lock you out of your apps, or download an app like Forest, which is designed to keep you focused on the task at hand (sleeping).

girl-asleep-beside-phone
Happy snoozing! (Credit: Getty)

If, after trying out all these tips, you find you’re still struggling to sleep at night, it might be time to chat to a doctor.

Happy sleeping!

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