Good, restful sleep is essential for your wellbeing – but it’s not always easy to come by. Here are a few things that may help.
Getting enough sleep is vital for feeling and functioning at your best, supporting both your brain and body.1
But achieving a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy.
In fact, a 2019 report commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation suggests more than half of Australian adults regularly experience at least one sleep symptom, such as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.2
So what can you do to get some more restful slumber? Let’s look at a few things that can help.
In this article
1. Establish a regular sleep time
Wherever possible, try to go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time every day.3
2. Relax before bed
A nightly relaxation routine can help set you up for a better sleep. 3 Try taking a bath, reading an enjoyable book, or doing some stretches, breathing exercises, meditation or yoga.
This also means trying to avoid stimulating activities – like watching TV, doing work, using social media, responding to emails, or having stressful conversations – in the hour before bed.3
If stress or anxiety are making it hard for you to relax at night, it might be helpful to talk to your GP. They can offer advice and refer you to a mental health professional such as a psychologist if needed.
3. Optimise your sleeping environment
As much as you can control, try to make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature. Snuggle down into comfortable bedding so you enjoy getting into bed at night.1
4. Make the bedroom about sleeping
Ideally, you want your brain to associate your bedroom with sleep.
If you can, try to remove any distractions such as televisions, phones, or work desks from the room, and avoid using the bedroom for anything other than sleeping.3
5. Listen to your tired cues
When you feel sleepy at night, it’s a good idea to listen to your body’s cues and head to bed, rather than ignoring it to stay up later.3
This can help you regulate your natural sleep-wake patterns.
Similarly, try not to go to bed too early either – it’s better to wait until you’re sleepy.3
6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bed
Stimulants such as caffeine make it harder to fall asleep and achieve quality rest.1
While alcohol may make you feel sleepy at first, it can actually disrupt your sleep cycle and cause poorer quality sleep.1
Alcohol can also make sleep problems like snoring and sleep apnoea worse.3
7. Avoid big meals before bed
Going to bed with a grumbling stomach isn’t ideal, but a full stomach can make it hard to sleep too.
Try to eat your dinner at least two hours before bedtime. If you’re hungry just before bed, a small healthy snack may help.3
8. Try to get some exercise and sunlight during the day
Being active and out in the daylight during the day can help improve sleep at night. This can help support your body clock.3
9. Get up if you can’t sleep
If you’re unable to get to sleep within 20-30 minutes of going to bed, try getting up and sitting quietly in another quiet and dark room until you feel sleepy again.3
Lying awake in bed can increase your frustration, worry or anxiety about not sleeping.
10. Try not to nap during the day
Napping in the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you do need to nap, it’s recommended to limit it to half an hour, and try to ensure you’re awake for at least four hours before going to bed.1
Where to get help
If you’re regularly having trouble sleeping, a good first step is to talk to your GP.
They may refer you to a psychologist, who can teach you some tools to improve your sleep.
If your GP suspects you have a sleep disorder, they may recommend a sleep study or refer you to a sleep specialist.
How can health insurance help?
If you’re having trouble sleeping, HBF can provide cover for a few services that may help:
- Psychology. HBF extras cover can give you benefits towards visits with a psychologist, who can teach you strategies for improving your sleep and managing mental health conditions that may affect your sleep.
- Sleep studies. HBF hospital cover can include sleep studies for the investigation of sleep patterns and problems.
If you’re an HBF member, you can check what you're covered for by logging on to myHBF or calling us on 133 423.
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This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.