5 Lifestyle flips that help you sleep

5 lifestyle flips that help you sleep

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Are you nursing a ‘bad sleep habit’ that’s hampering your slumber? Find out. And if you are – flip it. By Rosie Brogan.

Habit #1: I unwind at night by catching up on Facebook or surfing the net

Bright light, emitted from your computer or phone, can interrupt your body’s production of melatonin – the hormone that governs sleep patterns. 

Flip: Switch off screens at least 45 minutes before bedtime, says GP, Dr Joe Kosterich. Instead, run a bath, read a book, listen to chilled out music or thumb through the pages of your favourite magazine.

Habit #2: I drink tea, coffee or cola in the evenings

Caffeine keeps you perky – not sleepy (and reputedly, it can take up to eight hours for your system to eliminate caffeine entirely).

Flip: Reduce your intake of these black adders, suggests GP Dr Vicki Kotsirilos and colleagues. Rather, brew yourself a smooth caffeine-free chai (or coffee) or try the calming tea naturopaths rave about: chamomile.

Habit #3: I sleep under a heavy doona

Duck or goose-down doonas are the business when it comes to cozy bed covers, but they don’t let you easily adjust your bed’s temperature.

Flip: “Rather than sleeping under one heavy quilt or doona, the best idea is to use sheets and a number of blankets so that you can kick layers off as you need,” writes Sophie Scott, author of Roadtesting Happiness. “If you are overheated, you will find it difficult to get to sleep.” 

Habit #4: I am a worry wart

Stress and sleep just don’t gel. While relaxation strategies will help you unwind, so will clearing your mind before bedtime.

Flip: Keep a journal for ‘problem solving’. This tip comes from my own experience. I found myself regularly waking at 3am and fretting over the same issues. So I started two little journals: one for ‘admin’ (things I needed to remember to do) and another for ‘problem solving’ or worries – these journals help me keep a record of  things I need solutions for, and that I can legitimately worry about, but not at the decidedly yucky hour of 3am!

Habit #5: I am not the ‘sporting type’

A slew of studies link a good night’s sleep with exercise. Also, as Kotsirilos and co. write, “Regular exercise may promote relaxation and raise core body temperature in ways that are beneficial to initiating and maintaining sleep.”  

Flip: Start small, and if you’re not used to being active: simply walk. A study of 722 randomly selected subjects found that walking more than six blocks a day, at a regular pace, significantly reduced the risk of sleep disorders in both men and women, write Kotsirilos and Co.   

References available upon request