Catch some z’s
We are all guilty of it – trawling through social media on a brightly lit phone, watching Netflix continuously for hours on end or frantically working on that presentation we need for the next day. However, many of the things we do before going to bed (such as those mentioned) have a negative impact on our quality of sleep.
Sleep is one of our most important daily activities. Getting enough allows full participation and engagement in the things we enjoy most in life. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep deprivation and restless leg syndrome can have a detrimental impact on our quality of life, and if left unresolved, have the capacity to cause mental health issues.
Q: What do you do before going to bed and sleeping?
Some people try managing life with poor sleep habits. They think it’s ‘normal’ to nap after work, eat late and go to sleep at 3am, which often causes anxiety and worry.
Such habits are not a recipe to a healthy lifestyle. Most importantly, they don’t allow sufficient time for you to enjoy the activities most important to you, and most beneficial to your general health, such as exercising and socialising with friends.
Q: What changes could you make to improve sleep?
- Avoid napping during the day. Rest instead to boost your energy levels.
- Cut down your caffeine and alcohol intake. Try a warm de-caffeinated drink before going to bed.
- Keep to a regular sleep routine e.g. similar wake up and sleep times.
- Avoid doing anything else is bed…other than sleeping and having sex.
- Avoid watching TV, using a laptop or mobile phone an hour before bed as it can stimulate the brain.
- Exercising for 30 minutes a day improves fitness, reduces stress and improves depth of sleep. Avoid doing exercise four-six hours before bed.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant and may also increase other unhealthy lifestyle choices e.g. drinking more coffee.
Q: What is your bedroom environment like?
Some people use their bedroom for everything, making it difficult to switch off and relax when it comes to the time to go to sleep.
To address this, make sure your bedroom is space perfectly designed to promote good sleep. Your room should be dark and quiet. You may benefit from using an eye mask or earplugs (especially if you’re sleeping next to a snoring partner). Your room needs to be clear and uncluttered to help reduce any feelings of stress. To create the perfect temperature for sleep, you may need to change your bedsheets or use a heated blanket. You can also use lavender oil to help relax your body.
Q: What is your diet like?
You need the right food and at regular times of the day to maintain a good level of energy. Eating certain foods, such as spicy food, sugary cereal, chocolate and other fatty foods, late at night can cause problems with sleep. Snooze food and drinks that promote sleepiness and reduce alertness include bananas, sour cherry juice, warm milk, camomile tea, eggs and almonds.
Q: Do you feel stressed or worried which makes falling asleep difficult?
If so, write your stressors down! Having a pen and paper at the side of your bed will promote confronting such concerns. Put them on paper and create a plan as to how and when you will tackle them, rather than stewing on them whilst trying to sleep.
Other good ways to switch off from worries and de-stress at the end of a day is by listening to music, practicing mindfulness activities or deep breathing exercises.
If you have a sleep issue and would like additional support, APL Health can offer fatigue management through our lifestyle therapy programme. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, as this may be included as part of your school’s occupational health package.
Remember, a healthy day can equal a healthy night!