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Getting a good night's sleep is no easy feat, especially considering the sheer number of distractions and distresses that tend to keep us up at the close of every day.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, however, practising sleep hygiene is becoming increasingly crucial to elevating the emotional and physical health and wellbeing of Australians from all walks of life.
But what does good sleep hygiene look like? There are a number of factors that go into shaping your sleep hygiene habits, and taking the time to incorporate these factors into your daily routine may yield some superb results if you're one to monitor your sleep stats.
We'll be exploring all the elements that'll help you build good sleep hygiene habits below.
Wind down without screens
The main obstacle that keeps many of us from attaining a good night's sleep in the digital age has to be our mobile phones. Ideally, our mobile phones should not be kept on our bedside tables.
Save that space for some good old-fashioned books, or at least an e-reader with a non-blue light display.
All mobile phones, tablets, and other personal devices that do have displays that use blue light should generally be kept either outside of the bedroom entirely, or at the very least on tabletops that are entirely out of your line of vision when you're lying down and preparing for a good night's rest.
As blue light has been known to actively interrupt your brain's ability to produce melatonin (the 'sleep' hormone), minimising your exposure to screens when winding down for the evening will play a large role in boosting your overall sleep quality.
Minimise light availability in evening hours
Do you find it difficult to nap? There's actually a scientific reason for this, and it's all about the shape of the light waves that are being emitted by the sun.
Blue light waves are amongst the most high energy wavelengths that can be perceived by the human eye, which is precisely why they can be so distracting to our brain, triggering signals to our brain that it must stay awake and attentive.
In the simplest terms, our brains are tricked into thinking that we're still in daylight hours every time we expose ourselves to blue light.
You can foster better sleep health simply by keeping your bedroom as dark as possible as you near your bedtime.
And yes, you should have bedtime (but more on this later). Get into the habit of pulling your curtains together and turning off your reading light or any other interior lighting when you're trying to wind down.
If you live on a busy street and periodically get harsh street lighting filtering into your bedroom space, installing some blockout curtains or blinds on your windows may be an ideal solution too.
Keep your bedroom nice and cool
Alongside minimising your exposure to natural sources of light, you'll also want to ensure that your bedroom temperature stays on the cooler side to naturally mimic the cooler weather that generally accompanies the rising of the moon.
Our bodies are naturally wired to experience a slight decrease in our core temperature every evening as we prepare to fall asleep.
If this decrease cannot occur, you're likely to experience sleeplessness or even an uncomfortable or unfulfilling night's sleep.
You can effectively boost the quality of your sleep by keeping your bedroom at around 17 to 19 degrees Celsius both when preparing for bed as well as during the night.
Although this can't always be achieved - especially when contending against Aussie summer nights - you can also naturally keep your bedroom temperature on the cooler side by utilising blockout blinds that keep external heat firmly out of your interiors.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
The best method for getting enough sleep every night is simply to make sure that you're falling asleep and waking up at the same times every day or at the very least, at consistent enough times.
Generally speaking, adults should attain around 7-9 hours of sleep every night, so setting yourself a consistent sleep time of around 9 or 10 pm with a wake-up time of 6 or 7 am, will ensure that any adults working full-time hours can stay on top of their sleep schedule even with the ups and downs of their busy work schedules.
A similar sleep schedule can be beneficial for high-school-aged students as well; however, younger children should ideally have more sleep over the course of the day, with a recommended 9-12 hours for pre-teens.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet
Even if you are able to keep blue light exposure down and set yourself some consistent sleeping and waking times, you may still have to contend against your own random feelings and energy levels.
We all know just how frustrating it can be to get ready for bed only to realise that you're not even remotely tired.
There are a few noteworthy factors behind why you may or may not be feeling tired, but more often than not, diet and exercise can be amongst the most powerful influences when it comes to your daily energy levels.
Naturally, limiting your caffeine and sugar intake in the late afternoon will ensure that your body naturally feels tired enough to begin the process of winding down for the evening.
If you feel like your energy levels are still a touch too high for your comfort, you can go on a run or do some other heart-healthy activity that'll get all that excess energy right out of you as the sun sets too!
Just as sleeping at the same time can elevate your sleep quality, eating and exercising simultaneously every day can help your mind and body attain some further level of synchronicity.
Fine-tuning your sleep schedule is an ongoing process, and as such, it shouldn't be rushed.
You should feel comfortable taking the steps outlined above at your own pace and do what you feel is best for you when optimising your bedroom set-up and daily routine.