Placed alongside diet and exercise as the third pillar of health, a good night’s sleep continues to elude many Australians, with as many as four out of ten getting insufficient, restorative sleep each night - according to a recent study by the Sleep Health Foundation.
Putting sleep higher up on the lifestyle scale is therefore critical in all areas of your life and starting by creating an atmosphere at home - particularly in your bedroom - is key, along with a focus on a healthy diet and exercise that helps to promote, not inhibit sleep.
The Sleep Health Foundation stresses that bed is for sleep, not entertainment. iPads, phones, Netflix and similar stimulation interrupt your sleep and only act as a distraction.
It doesn’t stop with screens, however. Lighting designed to create an atmosphere of calm is paramount to relaxation and getting ready for a good night’s sleep. “Most people know that the blue light emitted by screens is harmful for sleep cycles but how many of us stop to think about the colour of the lights in the bedroom and how that might be affecting our sleep too,” says Marc Alexander, Co-Founder of LIFX.
Once beer-swilling, rugby-playing, pub-frequenting blokes, now authors of three bestselling cookbooks, three retail healthy cafes and a growing offering of over 25 plant-based food products, identical twin brothers Dave & Steve Flynn are taking the world by storm with their infectious enthusiasm for a healthier lifestyle via the multi-platform company The Happy Pear.
Sleep is at the top of their agenda and they offer the following tips to achieve optimum zzz’s on their YouTube channel:
1. Consistency and routine
- Go to bed at the same time every night – preferably before 10pm and wake up at the same time each morning
- No sleep-ins!! Sleeping in to make up for lost sleep is less effective than setting a routine and sticking to it
- Nap in the afternoon if you need a catch up
- Start winding down 90 minutes before you go to bed – adopt for yourself a similar routine you would for children - lower the lights, take a bath, choose more gentle activities such as quiet reading or listening of music
- No screens! Avoid the stimulation of a screen or action film
2. Melatonin and beauty sleep
Vital to good sleep, according to Dave & Steve the body starts producing melatonin around 6-6:30pm, peaking at 9:30pm. After that the body starts to produce human growth hormone (HGH) so from 10pm-2am is the best time to get deep, restorative beauty sleep.
Amber lighting is ideal for the production of melatonin and many lights in the home give off a blue or green colour – particularly electronic devices. Adjust your screens and phones to switch from blue/green to a softer night-time setting after 6:30pm to avoid the wrong kind of light right before you sleep.
In your bedroom adjust the lighting or light bulbs beside your bed to an amber tone, or consider installing smart lights such as Philips Hue and LIFX Day & Dusk that you can configure to mimic the movement of the sun and help regulate your sleep routine.
3. Circadian rhythms
Observe your body’s natural rhythm which, whilst different in each person, is essentially set by the rising and setting of the sun. Getting outside early in the morning calibrates your circadian rhythm and helps your body adjust to and operate within its natural and most effective state.
4. Your bedroom setup
More than just low lighting, the temperature in your bedroom should remain a couple of degrees lower than the daytime temperature you’re used to. Use blackout blinds on your windows and don’t turn on the light if you get up during the night.
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