It’s late. You really should go to bed. Just one more episode of House of Cards…
You go to bed and set the alarm on your phone. Just one quick scroll through Facebook…
You’re bone tired, you snuggle under the covers and it feels like heaven. Oh wait, did you remember to respond to that work email?
For some, a good night’s sleep is a luxury. I remember when I was in my early twenties, during uni before I started working fulltime, and some days I’d sleep in until 11am (or 2pm), just because. Then I got a job in radio and for the next ten years I got up at 3.30am. Now I keep ‘normal hours’, but a good night’s sleep is rare. It’s not only getting to sleep that can be hard; it’s sleeping well through the night that can be a challenge.
A quality night’s sleep is important for overall health and wellbeing, we all know that – but it’s easier said than done. So what are our options?
1. To nap or not to nap?
Research says that good sleep hygiene includes maintaining regular sleeping hours and not napping during the day, which will help balance your natural sleep rhythms.
However, research also tells us that a quick 10 minute nap improves alertness and decreases fatigue – though they also warn that more than 20 minutes is too long and tends to cause grogginess (Milner & Cote 2009). So set your phone alarm if you are planning to nap.
2. Monitor your hydration.
Drinking lots of water is important, unless you are planning to get on a bus or go to bed. Reduce your fluid intake in the evening and use the toilet just before bed to cut down on the night time visits.
3. Avoid stimulants.
I have a cup of herbal tea every single night but I make it weak. Stimulants, especially caffeine and alcohol, can affect your sleep. Try to stop drinking coffee, tea and alcohol around four to six hours before bedtime.