For many of us, getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging. Whether we’re thinking about our actions from the day, worrying about a looming work deadline or simply staying awake on a Netflix binge, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy.
According to The Sleep Foundation Australia, about half of all Aussies regularly experience two or more sleep-related problems * and this can range from difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night or experiencing sleep apnoea. Prolonged effects of such conditions can include, but are not limited to, daytime fatigue, short-term memory loss and general exhaustion.
We spent five minutes with Amcal Pharmacy Senior Pharmacist James Nevile, who has given us some of the top ways in which we can all get a better night’s rest.
“Getting a good night’s sleep is all about routine – sticking to a consistent and realistic time for bed will not only give you the best chance of a regular sleeping pattern, but also help you to feel fully refreshed the next day,” James said.
“To do this, you’ll need to establish a strict and consistent time for sleep each day, to create an effective body clock. When our bodies have a regular sleeping rhythm we are more likely to enjoy a better night’s sleep, which may then have a larger and more positive impact on our daily physical and emotional wellbeing.”
James also added that sleep apnoea in particular is a major concern. A person experiencing sleep apnoea could stop breathing 5-100 times per hour during the night, and this serious condition can often be mistaken for snoring.
“What is most alarming about sleep apnoea is that it can sound like snoring so it is important to recognise the difference. As a first step, if you hear your significant other gasping or making choking sounds while asleep, this may be one of the first signs of sleep apnoea,” James said.
“For trusted advice and information, pharmacies such as Amcal offer tailored health programs to take control of the condition. For example, Amcal’s in-pharmacy sleep apnoea program is designed to help the 1.8 million undiagnosed Australians living with sleep deprivation and exhaustion to test whether they are suffering from this condition.”
To get you started on a better night’s sleep, James has shared his insight into some quick and simple ways to enjoy a more relaxing snooze.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Get into the habit of practicing a nightly bedtime ritual and keep a sleep diary to identify your sleeping habits. Lack of a structured sleeping routine can have long-lasting impacts to several chronic health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, anxiety and depression**.
Don’t use screens close to bedtime
Even though the temptation of a good Netflix might linger into the late hours of the night, heavy screen time before bed may be doing you more harm than good. Consistent evidence shows that sleep can be hampered by excessive screen time, resulting in potentially a shortened sleep duration***. To help prevent this, reading a book or engaging in other light household activity may help to reduce excessive screen time.
Skip that afternoon pick me-up
For many of us, consuming a hit of caffeine in the afternoon can be a well-deserved (and often, well needed) way to get through the day. However, it’s important to keep in mind that when caffeine is consumed in the afternoon, it may keep your brain too active into the evening****. For a healthier choice, a simple walk or getting up from your chair to enjoy the outside can work wonders to help you feel rejuvenated and refreshed – without this added hit of caffeine.
Move better, to sleep better
Exercise is not only an effective way to keep on top of your mental and physical health, but can work wonders in improving your sleep regime. And it’s not just a run or a gym session that can do this for you, it’s been shown that*****, even simple relaxation exercises or focusing on a mantra, such as repeating a word constantly, was found to help improve the overall sleep hygiene. Alternatively, try an after work jog around the neighborhood to help you feel good and rest better at night, as long as it’s not too close to bedtime
Visit your GP or pharmacist
If you’re ever feeling unsure about your health, please visit your local GP or Pharmacy for up-to-date information and advice. A dedicated health care professional will be able to give you some tangible advice on managing your sleeping condition in both the short and long-term.