But experts say there’s a sure-fire way to max our time in the Land Of The Nod: nail the nighttime ritual.
“How we spend our wakeful hours affects how well we sleep,” Dr Carmel Harrington explains. “And in turn, how well we sleep affects our wakeful hours.”
So with that in mind, behold: the three most common sleep sins.
1.) Too much tech
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is switching off technology just before going to sleep,” Carmel says. This is because the blue-light in our devices impairs our levels of melatonin, stimulating the brain to stay awake. Not ideal.
2.) The timing is off
Sucker for the midnight munchies? Step away from the fridge. Not only is late night noshing bad for our waistlines, it also causes a spike in our blood sugar levels. “A small snack is ok, but we shouldn’t eat a large meal within three hours of bedtime,” Carmel says. Getting your sweat on during this period is also a major no-no. “It is important to not exercise after about 7pm,” she adds. “Exercising alerts the body and may make sleep elusive.” Noted.
3.) The bedtime buzz
Sure, a cheeky glass of vino is a great way to induce drowsiness, but as our bodies begin to metabolise the alcohol it can actually rev up the sympathetic nervous system and impair our REM sleep. “Alcohol is a sleep stealer and if we want to get the best rest possible, we should refrain.”
Nixed the bad habits and still struggling to wind down?
Carmel believes establishing a regular bedtime is key, as is ensuring sure your room is cool, dark and quiet. But if your sleep issues are really starting to wear thin, it might be time to invest in some extra help.
“Fitness tracking devices like the Fitbit Ionic can keep you on track,” she says. “This can track your Sleep Stages to estimate the amount of time spent in light, deep and REM sleep as well as time awake. It can also provide actionable guidance by providing Sleep Insights.”
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