10 tips to fall asleep more quickly
WE CAN'T live without it, yet recent data shows that 50 per cent of people fail to get enough sleep and up to 75 per cent of people have trouble falling to sleep.
And it's often due to two common complaints - the grumble of the modern time-poor environment making it challenging to get everything done in a day and the complaint of the busy mind that keeps us awake biting into our daily quota of shut-eye.
Inadequate sleep can have a big impact of how you function, feel and think. As an adult it is recommended that we get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Here are some tips you can implement towards ensuring a better sleep:
1. Boost your serotonin levels
Serotonin is a chemical messenger that regulates mood, appetite and sleep, and is derived from the amino acid, tryptophan. Make sure your evening meal - 2-3 hours before bed - contains naturally high amounts of tryptophan. Some examples include dairy foods, eggs, tofu, soy beans, salmon, lamb, chicken, turkey, cherries, Kiwi fruit, nuts and seeds.
Balance these foods with a serving of wholegrain carbohydrate such as rice, potatoes or wholegrain bread.
2. Invest in a good bed
You spend approximately 1/3 of your day in bed. This is much more than we would spend on time commuting in our car. Your sleep is one of the most important aspects of your health so don't be scared to spend a few dollars on it.
3. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant and will have varying degrees of effect on different people. Avoid having it 6 hours before bed. This means if you're off to bed at 10pm, cut the coffee before 4pm.
And be careful of the common trap - tea. Tea, including green tea contains caffeine so stick to herbal teas - lemon and ginger, camomile, rooibos - of an evening.
4. Don't ignore the 'no screen' rule
Your bedroom should be cool, dark, quiet and rid all of technology and screens - including TV's and clocks. Avoid taking your computer, phone or tablet to bed to give your body a chance of promoting production of melatonin - the hormone that regulates sleep.
Artificial light or blue light emitted from mobiles, computers and tablet devices will suppress melatonin secretion and prolong the time it takes to fall asleep. And staring at a clock while you're trying to fall asleep will only make you more anxious and worried and make it even harder to fall asleep.
5. Get the pets and kids out of the room
Your bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary for you and your partner and not the entire family.
Allowing your kids or your pet to sleep in your bed will disrupt your sleep so if you haven't already, it's time to move them out.
6. Reduce your alcohol intake
While you might get to sleep quicker from drinking alcohol, once it wears off the later part of your sleep will be disturbed.
7. Get in your daily exercise
Regular exercise of 30 minutes per day is a great way to improve your sleep quality and your health. It doesn't always have to be intense but it does need to be regular.
8. Avoid smoking before bed
Nicotine is a stimulant and can prevent a good night's sleep and cause insomnia. Call the Quitline 137848 to discuss free available support to stop smoking.
9. Unwind and relax
Overstimulation of the mind before bed will increase the amount of time it takes to fall to sleep.
Try going to bed a little earlier than usual and unwind by reading a book, listening to music, or practising meditation and relaxation techniques. And most importantly don't ignore the 'no tech' rule.
10. Limit your fluids before bed
Most of us already wake up and have trouble going back to sleep so avoid drinking too much fluid after 4pm as it is likely to result in you getting up frequently during the night to urinate.
Dr Nick Fuller is the author of Interval Weight Loss, which is a scientifically proven way of redefining the weight your body wants to be, to ensure you lose it and keep it off. For more information go to Interval Weight Loss.