Poor sleep? 5 mistakes you might be making


Poor sleep can greatly affect our mood and well-being. If you are getting inadequate or interrupted sleep you might want to consider these common mistakes people make.

1. Drinking tea or coffee before bed

Drinking a caffeine rich drink such as tea or coffee directly before bed can negatively impact your sleep. Caffeine should be avoided for at least 4 hours before going to bed. Caffeine is a strong stimulant and too much will effect the quality of your sleep. If you need a warm drink before bed opt for decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas, try specially blended bedtime teas. Also avoid soft drinks that contain caffeine at least 4 hours before bedtime.

2. Eating and drinking right before bed

You shouldn't go to bed feeling hungry but at the same time having a full stomach will make it very difficult to sleep. Have your last meal at least 2 hours before bedtime. Eating too close to bedtime can cause heartburn and discomfort in the chest. Avoid late meals and snacks. If you wake up during the night to go to the toilet then you might want to try to reducing or eliminating your drinks before bedtime.

3. Poor sleep environment

For a good night's sleep our bedroom should be quiet, dark, comfortable, and the right temperature - not too cold or too hot. It's essential to have a comfortable and clean mattress, pillows, sheets and doona/bedspread. Light can be a cause of disturbed sleep. Ensure that your room is kept dark and free from all light sources, outside street lights and lights inside the bedroom, such as the light emitted from electrical items - turn them off.  Most of us like going to bed feeling cosy & warm but if your room is too warm it may be difficult to sleep. The Sleep Health Foundation suggests the ideal sleeping temperature is around 17 to 19 degrees Celsius. If you're unable to achieve this temperature in your room, try using a fan or open window to help cool your body.

4. Not going to bed and getting up at the same times each day

What does your weekly sleep routine look like? Are you staying up late one week night to finish something off, only to get an early night the next night, then the weekend comes and more late nights, but your able to have a huge sleep in hoping to catch up with sleep. These bad habits can be damaging to your sleeping patterns. Our internal body clock works at its optimum level when we go to bed and wake at around the same time each day, having an irregular sleep routine can mess up our internal body clock, making it harder to get a good night's sleep. Where practical you should go to bed and wake at similar times each day. This goes for weekdays and weekends - when you can.

5. Watching TV or using your computer before bed

Unfortunately, I'm guilty of this one. Darkness causes your body to produce melatonin which makes you feel sleepy, the bright light emitted from our television and computer reduces our production of melatonin and hence makes us feel more awake. Television and computer games can also be stimulating to the mind making it difficult to fall asleep. Ditch the television or computer directly before bed and create a bedtime routine that allows you to wind down before you sleep. There are many things you can do... take a warm bath, read a book, or meditate. There are some great guided meditation apps that focus on relaxation and sleep. Find something that works for you.

Lack of or no sleep can have a detrimental effect on your health, if you are consistently suffering from poor or no sleep you should make an appointment with your GP.