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5 Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Sleep Hygiene (Part 2)

If you have read part 1 of “5 quick and easy ways to improve your sleep hygiene”, you’ll be well on your way to cleaner sleep. Part 2 delves a little deeper into lifestyle changes that correlate with sleep improvement. You will most likely be able to relate to one or more of these common factors influencing our sleep.

We’ll be covering:

  1. Caffeine
  2. Alcohol
  3. Regular exercise
  4. Room temperature
  5. The bedroom is for sleeping

Caffeine

When we think about caffeine, we think coffee, right? But caffeine is in a whole range of products including tea leaves and cacao. It makes us feel energised, but it can interfere with circadian rhythms including the sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, having too much coffee during the day or having coffee too close to bedtime can decrease the quality and ease of your sleep. Unfortunately, this means we wake up tired and what do we reach for? The coffee. It can be a vicious cycle.

An additional effect is that caffeine can mask what your body is trying to communicate with you. It may be telling you that you feel tired but why? Do you need to eat more? Sleep more? Move your body more? Try asking your body what it needs.

Alcohol

Have you ever had a big night out, stumbling through the door at 3am exhausted but can’t seem to get to sleep or stay asleep?

Research suggests that people who drink large amounts of alcohol before bed show symptoms of insomnia. They need more time to fall asleep initially and their sleep is easily disturbed, especially the REM phase. REM is the final phase of the sleep cycle where dreaming and memory consolidation occur. When alcohol is consumed this is impacted.

Additionally, excessive alcohol can worsen symptoms of sleep apnoea which causes difficulty or loss of breath during sleep.

Regular exercise

Exercise influences sleep in a few ways. Firstly, it physically tires you out, increasing your need for sleep. It also improves sleep quality and duration. Exercise reduces stress which allows you to unwind and relax, providing an easier transition from rest to sleep.

However, some people will find that exercising late at night or close to bedtime will heighten your cortisol levels and increase your body temperature. This may lead to difficulties winding down afterwards.

Room temperature

Temperature is closely related to your circadian rhythm and melatonin release. Approximately 2 hours before your regular sleep time, your body temperature begins to drop. This signals to your body that sleep time is approaching.

Keeping the room cool is important to accommodate for this dip in body temperature. According to research 18.3 degrees is the ideal sleeping temperature, so dial your thermostats up or down and see how you feel.

The bedroom is for sleeping (and love making)

It has been shown that combining your sleep and work space can be detrimental to sleep patterns. Having a combined space makes it difficult for your brain to establish whether it’s sleep time or work time. Moreover, being able to see your work area from your bed can induce stress and provide the temptation to work after hours.

I hope these tips and tricks help you have a better sleep!

Let us know how you go!

Dr Lee Hoogeveen (Osteopath)

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June 23, 2021

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