Are you one of the many people who have trouble falling asleep? Maybe you toss and turn during the night, wake too early or wake not feeling refreshed! You are not alone, in Australia hundreds of thousands of people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep every night.

Developing a good bedtime routine and creating a plan that works well for you to achieve a good night’s rest is vital for maintaining your health.

Before bed

1. Regular exercise: exercise may promote relaxation and raise core body temperatures to initiate and maintain sleep, increasing the non-rem sleep phase and stimulating the regenerating characteristics of sleep. It is a healthy, safe, inexpensive and simple means of improving sleep.

2. Vitamin D: The body is designed to know night is for sleeping and daytime is for activity, our internal body clocks help to regulate sleep. Sunshine or light tells our body to wake up and be active. If you work indoors try to open blinds or go for a walk during lunch.

3. Avoid naps: Napping during the day may be the cause of your sleep deprivation. If you feel you can’t get through the afternoon without a nap re-consider what you are eating for lunch, or perhaps you’re not enjoying your current work environment.

Avoid stimulants

4. Caffeine and cigarettes: Both of these consumables, some energy and soft drinks, chocolate and tea all contain stimulants and should be avoided for four to six hours before bedtime.

5. Alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and while it can make it easier for you to fall asleep, it can cause you to wake during the night and it can also cause nightmares.

6. Technology: The lights in the screen projecting from your phone, tablet or computer trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime and will make it harder for your body to switch to sleep mode. If you must use a smart phone or ‘tablet’ late at night try turning down the brightness. Blue light from the screens during the night is especially effective at keeping you awake.

Environment is key

7. Mattress, pillows, bedding: Do you wake during the night with back or neck pain? If so, consider your bedding. Think about experimenting with different levels of mattress firmness and pillows that provide support. Pillows now come in all shapes and sizes and can suit side, back or stomach sleepers. Consult a bedding specialist for more professional advice.

8. Bedroom: Try to sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. Light can send the wrong signals to your body clock; disrupt the circadian rhythm and the production of hormones necessary for sleep. Try an eye mask to cover your eyes if your room isn’t dark enough. Keep noise levels to a minimum and find your optimal room temperature.

Sweet dreams!

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