Five steps to a healthy night’s sleep
SLEEP is the time when the body rests and repairs itself. But research suggests that in these continually switched-on times, we are struggling with this basic component of health.
In fact, 33 to 45 per cent of adults sleep either poorly or not long enough most nights, according to the Sleep Health Foundation.
Yes, we're restless and wakeful, plagued by anxiety and FOMO - fear of missing out - says Dr Rubin Naiman, a behavioural sleep and dream medicine specialist who offers sleep programs to leading spas around the world.
Loss of REM sleep and dreaming is his greatest concern, with new research suggesting that this may increase the risk of memory loss and depression, he says.
While getting a good night's sleep is a science, there are some simple steps you can take to get eight hours of rest to de-stress and de-age your body.
1. Track your sleep with something like a Fitbit Versa so you know what you can improve. Know first that every night's sleep includes brief periods of wakefulness; light sleep, which usually makes up half the night and is good for memory and learning; deep sleep, that is important for the immune system and physical recovery; and REM sleep, that typically occurs when you're coming out of deep sleep and helps with mental restoration. Your Fitbit app can recommend a personalised sleep schedule based on your sleep goal.
2. Before bed, limit screen time on your tv, tablet, computer, or phone. The blue light emitted by these devices can reduce night-time levels of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. You could also try orange glasses that block out blue light. (www.optimoz.com.au)
3. Makeover your bedroom. You'll need shades or curtains that can be drawn to make your room totally dark; a supportive mattress, as well as good quality pillows in latex or foam; natural fibres for bed linen, to reduce allergy responses that promote wakefulness; a fan for dropping the temperature on hot nights; and low lighting. Check out GE Align PM bulbs that produce an amber glow that doesn't interfere with melatonin. (www.amazon.com)
4. Deal with any worries you have before bed by writing in a journal or discussing your worries with someone close.
5. Avoid caffeine and a heavy meal at least two hours before bed, suggests the Sleep Health Foundation. Smoking also makes it difficult to go to sleep, so why not quit. And while alcohol might help you get to sleep, it makes it harder to stay asleep. Try a herbal tea, or a hot milk - cow, coconut, almond or organic soy, of course. We like it teamed with The Healthy Chef's Naked Chocolate.
6. Relax your body before bed. The Fitbit Versa offers guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate.
Helen Hawkes is a health coach and counsellor