Deliberately Better Sleep: Proven Strategies and Tips for Improved Rest
Are you struggling to get a good night’s sleep? In this blog post, we reveal essential insights from a recent me&my health up podcast episode, where host Anthony Hartcher interviews a renowned sleep expert Dr. Damon Ashworth on effective strategies to deliberately achieve better sleep.
Discover the secrets behind improving your sleep quality and boosting your overall well-being. Intrigued? Keep reading to unlock the expert tips and transform your sleep experience for the better.
The Benefits of Deliberately Better Sleep
Achieving deliberately better sleep can have a profound impact on various aspects of your life. According to World Sleep Day Talking Points, studies suggest that sleep quality rather than quantity has a greater impact on quality of life and daytime functioning.
Here are some of the notable benefits you can experience by prioritising sleep quality:
- Improved mental health: Consistently getting better sleep can help alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, contributing to overall mental well-being.
- Enhanced cognitive function: High-quality sleep boosts cognitive abilities, including memory, decision-making, and problem-solving skills, making you more efficient and focused during the day.
- Emotional stability: Restful sleep promotes emotional balance and resilience, helping you navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and composure.
- Physical health: Deliberately better sleep supports your immune system, reduces inflammation, and aids in tissue repair and growth, contributing to overall physical health.
- Weight management: Sufficient sleep helps regulate appetite and metabolism, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight-related health issues.
- Increased productivity: Better sleep enables you to accomplish more during the day, as it enhances focus, energy levels, and overall motivation.
- Better relationships: Improved sleep positively impacts your mood and emotional intelligence, fostering healthier and more satisfying interpersonal connections.
- Longevity: Research suggests that consistently getting high-quality sleep can contribute to a longer, healthier life, as it helps stave off chronic diseases and age-related decline.
Insomnia: A Common Sleep Disorder
Insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder that affects approximately 30% of the Australian population. Stress, anxiety, and depression cause about half of all insomnia cases, but daytime habits, physical health, and bedtime routines also play a significant role. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation can be detrimental, so it’s essential to address insomnia and improve sleep quality.
Expert Tips and Strategies for Deliberately Better Sleep
The Importance of Professional Help
When experiencing sleep issues, it’s essential to seek help from sleep experts like sleep physicians or psychologists trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI). These professionals can provide tailored guidance and support for your specific needs.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI)
CBTI is a comprehensive approach for improving sleep quality, focusing on helpful behavioural strategies and challenging unhelpful thinking patterns. The main components of CBTI include psychoeducation, sleep scheduling, relaxation strategies, and cognitive restructuring.
Psychoeducation teaches individuals about sleep drive, circadian rhythms, arousal levels, and sleep hygiene. Understanding these concepts can help you make informed decisions about your sleep habits.
Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding spending excessive time awake in bed can improve your sleep quality. Sleep scheduling helps you create a routine that supports healthy sleep patterns.
Relaxation strategies teach techniques for winding down before sleep and managing stress throughout the day. Progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, and imagery or visualisation can help improve sleep quality, making it easier to drift off at night.
Cognitive restructuring helps individuals challenge unhelpful thoughts and develop realistic expectations about sleep, reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality.
Sleep Pressure and Circadian Rhythms
Circadian rhythms refer to a cycle within the body. Natural factors from within the body produce circadian rhythms, but environmental factors such as sunlight also affect them. Building sleep pressure and maintaining consistent circadian rhythms are essential for better sleep.
To build sleep pressure, avoid excessive napping, engage in challenging activities, and limit caffeine intake, particularly after 2 pm. Regular exposure to morning sunlight and minimising bright screen usage before bedtime support healthy circadian rhythms.
Chronotypes and Personalised Sleep Hygiene
Understanding your chronotype (morning lark or night owl) can help tailor your sleep routine. Focus on the most relevant factors for your sleep hygiene, such as reduced blue/white light exposure, minimise caffeine, and alcohol consumption, to improve sleep quality.
Nutrition and Exercise
The timing of meals and consistency in exercise routines can improve sleep over time. A healthy, unprocessed diet is crucial for overall health, but occasional junk food consumption may not significantly affect sleep quality. Ensure two to three hours between your last meal and bedtime for more restful sleep. Introduce 30 minutes of exercise four to five times a week for better sleep in two to three months.
Sleep Aids and Their Effectiveness
Individual preferences and placebo effects can influence the effectiveness of sleep aids. Blue light blocking glasses, activity trackers, and mouth taping may be helpful for some but are not necessary for everyone. More research is needed to understand their effectiveness.
Alcohol and Caffeine Intake
Alcohol intake should generally not exceed two standard drinks in one sitting. Alcohol can disrupt REM sleep, leading to poorer emotional processing and potentially worse mood and anxiety the following day. Minimise caffeine consumption after 2 pm, as its half-life is about four and a half hours, potentially impacting sleep quality nine hours later.
Top Tips for Deliberately Better Sleep
- Ensure sleep pressure is high enough by considering factors such as timing of when to go to bed, amount of activity/exercise, reducing naps, and caffeine intake.
- Go to bed at the right time for your body and maintain consistency. If needed, adjust your body clock using morning sunlight and minimizing light exposure at night.
- Ensure arousal levels are low before bed by focusing on winding down and finding a relaxing distraction.
Using an alarm clock can be helpful for maintaining a consistent wake-up time and supporting a stable sleep cycle. Consider using relaxing melodies or podcasts as a distraction to help fall asleep.
Connect with me&my wellness for Holistic Health Coaching
For those seeking a comprehensive approach to health and wellness, me&my wellness offers holistic health coaching tailored to your individual goals. Our coaching program can provide guidance on how to improve your sleep quality and overall well-being.
Book a consultation with us today and take the first step towards a healthier, more rested you. With these expert strategies and personalised approaches, you can deliberately achieve better sleep and enhance your overall well-being. Take action today and start enjoying the benefits of improved rest.