Improving your Sleep

By Adelaide Women's Physio | November 7, 2016

Sleeping is extremely important for your health, mental functioning and emotional wellbeing.  The amount of sleep required varies amongst individuals, generally varying from 7-9 hours per night.  There are a number of factors that can make getting to sleep difficult or that can lead to disrupted sleep.  These include pain, stress, depression, anxiety, an overactive bladder, children, hormonal changes around menopause, aging and pregnancy.

Having a good sleep routine may help you to improve your sleep and this includes:

  • Establishing a routine for meals, medication and activities.
  • Spend time outside in daylight during the day, particularly in the morning. This may assist your body clock.
  • Avoid daytime napping (if you do nap make it less than 15 minutes).
  • Exercise during the day. Exercise can improve sleep and reduce anxiety and depression. Avoid exercise in the later evening before bed, as this may be too stimulating.
  • Avoid caffeine for at least 5 hours before going to bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and can make going to sleep and staying asleep difficult. If you are having more than 2 cups of coffee per day try reducing this amount and see if it helps improve sleep.
  • Do not go to bed hungry or too full. Avoid a large meal prior to sleeping. If you are hungry eat something light.
  • Avoid alcohol to help you sleep. It may help you fall asleep but often leads to disrupted sleep with an early wake up time.
  • Avoid screen time for a couple of hours before bed. The light from the screen can confuse your body’s natural sleep rhythms.
  • Make your sleep environment a comfortable temperature, keep the room dark and free from distractions.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid stressful interactions and activities before going to bed.
  • Silence your phone at night to enable you to switch off from daily communication.
  • Associate your bed with sleep and sexual activities only. Avoid using your bedroom to read, study, listen to music or watch TV.
  • Do not think of problems in bed. Writing your worries down, or making a ‘to do’ list for the next day helps let go of some of the unhelpful thought problems before going to sleep.
  • Try a simple meditation routine before going to sleep.
  • Some natural medications such as melatonin or valerian may assist, especially when going through menopause. In Australia Melatonin is only available through prescription so you would need to speak to your doctor about this.
  • Following a simple stretch routine before bed might help.

An uninterrupted deep sleep helps your brain process memories, stress and emotions.  It boosts your mood and improves your memory.  When you have had a deep sleep at night, you will have more energy during the day.  Likewise, deep sleep helps rejuvenate your body and repair damaged tissues.