Most of us will agree that we could do with better sleep. In fact, a study from Philips Annual Global Sleep Survey found that 67% of participants view sleep’s impact on their overall health and wellbeing to be significant.
The Importance of Good Sleep
So exactly how much sleep do we need? Sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley says that the need to get 8 hours in order to get better sleep is just a myth. All individuals are different and anywhere between four and eleven hours can be considered normal but what is important is that you are getting the right amount of sleep for you as an individual. This means that if you are a ‘nine hour a night person’ then you need to get nine hours and if you’re a ‘five hour a night person’ then you need to sleep for five hours.
Lack of the right amount of sleep can cause you to feel drowsy, lethargic during the day and impact your performance at work or at school. In fact, a study by The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health found that 17% of people reported missing at least one day of work in the past 4 weeks because they were too sleepy or had a sleep problem. The same study also found that around 20% of adults reported errors at work on 1-2 days as a result of sleep related problems and one fifth of adults reported nodding off while driving with 5% being in a motor vehicle accident as a result of sleep related problems.
Top 5 Hacks for Better Sleep
- Turn off all electronic devices 1 hour before sleep – many of us are either on our phones or laptops in bed right before attempting to sleep. Most modern screen devices emit blue light which affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength of light. Blue light has a greater effect on phase shifting the circadian clock and on melatonin suppression. If you can, stay away from electronics an hour before bed time.
- Use night mode/night light – if you absolutely must be on your phone or computer before bed, take advantage of a functionality called ‘night mode’. This feature reduces the amount of blue light emitted from your device screen. Most modern smartphones come with this feature and you’re able to set this to automatically turn on and off at specific times of the day. If you’re on desktop, Windows 10 has a display option called ‘night light’ which effectively does the same thing by reducing the amount of blue light.
- Exercise – if you feel restless before bed try getting more exercise. An hour of running or lifting weights will help you feel tired and it’s good for your health. Be sure to do this at a suitable time such as in the evening and not right before bed.
- Ensure you have the right mattress and pillow – this isn’t a sales plug for any particular mattress or pillow brand because we’re all unique individuals and we all have different requirements. Some of us prefer hard mattresses and some of us prefer soft mattresses. Similarly, if you’re a back sleeper, you will need a lower profile pillow than if you’re a side sleeper. Whichever way you like to sleep, your pillow should be at a height that allows your head to rest comfortably and your spine to remain neutral. Check out our blog post on how to choose the right pillow for you.
- Get enough food – we’ve all felt hunger pangs from time to time and can agree that it’s no fun. Be sure to go to bed a suitable amount of hours after eating and ensure that you’ve had enough to eat for dinner. An empty stomach can often keep a person up for hours and affect the quality of their sleep and health. Be sure to avoid caffeine and high sugar foods close to bedtime.