If you struggle to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night, you’re not alone. Lack of sleep affects over 7 million Australian adults.
Here are our top tips for improving your quality and quantity of sleep, which might just boost your immune health at the same time.
- Create a sleep schedule, even on weekends. Being consistent with your bedtime and wake up time helps your body’s internal clock know when to expect to be asleep and awake. Try to resist sleeping in on the weekends, or hitting the snooze button on any day.
- Try mindfulness. Practising mindfulness, such as a short meditation or body scan, when you get into bed can help your nervous system relax and your body transition to sleep. The free meditation app Smiling Mind has sleep meditation tracks you can access.
- Move during the day. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can improve the quality of your sleep. Exercise also helps to reduces stress, which we know affects the immune system.
- Turn off your gadgets. The blue light emitted from phones and computers restricts the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle. Scrolling Insta or reading emails also keeps your brain alert, when you want it to be relaxed. Give yourself 30 minutes gadget-free time before getting into bed.
- Naps aren’t just for kids! If you aren’t able to get enough sleep at night, you can make up for lost shut eye with two naps during the day. Research has shown that taking two naps for less than 30 minutes each helps decrease stress and offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system.
Did you know?
Caffeine has a half-life of 3-5 hours. The half-life of a substance or medicine is the time that it takes for its concentration in your body to be reduced by half.
That means if you have a cup of coffee at 5pm, it can still be stimulating your brain at 10pm.
For the best possible sleep, try to switch from coffee and tea to herbal tea from around 3pm onwards.
Sleep Foundation. How Sleep Affects Your Immunity. Available from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity. Accessed April 2020.
Australia’s Science Channel. Four Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Brain and Your Body. Available from https://australiascience.tv/four-ways-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-brain-and-your-body/. Accessed April 2020.