Sleep Hygiene Part 1

Researchers estimate that around a third of adults in Australia get less than seven hours of sleep a night – and that’s not enough!

The effects of sleep deprivation can be catastrophic. Not only does a lack of sleep affect mood and concentration, but it could also increase the risks of developing other serious diseases (even diabetes and certain cancers)

There is no doubt that sleep is essential to our wellbeing. When we’re in REM sleep, it assists in processing information, reduces stress, boosts memory, and assists in healthy cell growth. However, getting enough is not always easy to achieve.

According to the UK’s Sleep Council, “you have no control over what happens when you sleep, but you can control what you do throughout the day to prepare for a better night’s sleep.”

Don’t stress – there’s hope. This first article will look at some things that prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep. They include some of the following:

1. Familiarity. When we sleep in unfamiliar places, one hemisphere of our brain remains active. This “night watch” has developed to keep us safe in uncertain environments.

2. Noise. Even if we are sleeping at home, noises can force us out of our deep sleep (a dog barking or a car alarm).

3. Temperature. Our body temperature can significantly affect our sleep. Surprisingly, slightly warm skin helps the body release heat and reduces the number of night-time awakenings.

4. Timing. Your circadian rhythm affects the amount of REM sleep you get. Getting up too early means you miss out on later, longer rapid, eye movement sleep cycles.

5. Blue light. When we use them late at night, the light emitted from our phones and tablets shifts our circadian rhythms. REM cycles start later, and we are less likely to reach extended REM sleep cycles.

These five areas should be considered if you want to improve your sleep quality and quantity.

In the next article, we will look at how to maintain good sleep habits so that we can live happier, healthier, and longer lives!