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How to sleep better

Just because we spend most of our lives in bed doesn't mean that everyone's getting enough rest all the time. Approximately 60% of Australian adults have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep three or more nights a week. That's a lot of frustrating nights and groggy mornings. We've narrowed down the best ways to ensure you're getting a good night's sleep.

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How much sleep do we actually need?

Generally speaking, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Kids and teens will need a bit more as their bodies exert more energy to grow and develop, so anywhere between eight to 11 hours a night is normal. As we get older, we tend to need less sleep as our bodies slow down. While these are good guidelines to base your sleep habits off, they will vary depending on individual circumstances and health concerns, so if you're really having trouble with your sleep it's best to consult your GP. 

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How our habits affect sleep

Exercise

Having a regular exercise regime halves the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and increases total sleep duration by 18%, so incorporating some daily exercise is a good way to help your body turn off when it's time to rest. That being said, it's important to exercise at the right time. Intense exercise will increase your heart rate, body temperature and adrenaline levels, so it's best not to exercise in the three hours before heading to bed.

Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine

We all know that caffeine helps to wake us up and boost our energy, so it's no surprise that it makes falling asleep harder. While alcohol is a depressant and can make you drowsy, studies have shown that drinking large amounts of alcohol before going to bed often leads to delayed sleep onset, and the extra work that the liver has to do to metabolise means you'll have a lower quality of sleep. Nicotine is a known stimulant that can affect your brain's neurotransmitter levels, making it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep and access REM sleep. These factors all mean that we should be avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine for at least three hours before hitting the hay.

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Bedding

A fresh set of bedding always sets you up for a good sleep. In fact, you should be updating your mattress every five to eight years for good quality sleep. There is no 'right' bedding or mattress to get the best sleep, it depends on what works for you. For side sleepers, a firmer pillow is important for adequate head and neck support, while back sleepers will want to go for something a bit thinner. Check out our tips for choosing the right quilt and keeping your bedroom cool during summer.

Bathing

Whether you're a morning or a night bather, there's no denying that a warm shower or bath before bed can improve sleep quality. Elevating your body's temperature levels, then letting them slowly lower mimics how our body regulates temperature as we fall asleep, as we tend to run cooler during rest to conserve energy. Taking a bath (or if that's too much effort, bathing your feet) 90 minutes before bed will help get your body ready for a good night's sleep. 

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Good sleep hygiene

  • Having good sleep hygiene ensures that your space is the optimal environment for resting. 
  • A dark, cool room (between 15-20 degrees celsius is best). Use blockout curtains or blinds to keep any city lights or morning sunshine at bay.
  • Complete quiet, or if you need a little white noise put on something soothing and non-stimulating. Check out these podcasts or sleep music and apps to give yourself sweet dreams.
  • A clean and tidy room. Clutter can negatively impact your brain's ability to switch off so make sure you declutter your bedroom.
  • Using your bed solely for sleep. Leave all activities and distractions elsewhere.

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Techniques for winding down

  • Listen to some non-stimulating music in the hour before bed.
  • Keep the lights dim as evening turns to night so you don't disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythm. For lighting that isn't so harsh, opt for lamps with a warm light bulb.
  • Don't check your work emails after dinner.
  • Stick to the same sleep schedule every day, even on weekends, so your body recognises that it's time for sleep.
  • Have a 30 minute pre-bed routine.
  • Implement a no-screens policy for 30 minutes before lights out.

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Styling your bedroom for better sleep

To create a soothing sanctuary that promotes sleep, start by clearing away unnecessary decor to lessen distractions. This applies for the colour scheme as well as you want to minimise stimulation.
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'Keep the decor and colour palette within a similar tonal range. By limiting contrast, we avoid the eye being drawn to unnecessary focal points, giving ourselves more opportunity to relax.'

Consider furniture with added storage features so you can pack away items that aren't of use year round or end up getting in the way. PrettyWreathBlog_0000_20171120_TW_WreathHowTo_1
'Hidden storage is key for creating a calm and inviting bedroom. Opt for beds with storage drawers or gas lift features to hide mess away and sleep peacefully.'
Bridgette Sulicich 29 January, 2022

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