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7 tips to getting a better night’s sleep

Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? You’re not alone

A young woman and her dog nap together
A young woman and her dog nap together

Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. In fact up to 45% of Aussies get inadequate ZZZs.

If you’re spending hours in bed trawling through Instagram, thinking about what you’re going to eat for breakfast and counting down the hours until your alarm goes off, it might be time to take a different tack.

We spoke with Smiling Mind’s CEO Dr Addie Wootten who explains that it’s not just any type of sleep we should be striving for, what we’re after is ‘deep sleep’ – here’s why…

“When you fall into a deep sleep, space between your brain cells expands by up to 60% which allows fluid to flush through and remove toxins from it. One toxin in particular – beta-amyloid – can form plaques and create memory impairment. On top of this, the delta waves we create while in a deep sleep serve as a biological marker for youth.”

So, not only does a lack of sleep make you feel worse than a soggy bandaid but it can make you look decades older. Before this little fact becomes another thing you stress about while trying to get some shut-eye, here are some of the Smiling Mind expert tips to help you sleep like a baby (one of those baby dolls, not a real newborn #obviously).

Credit: nib health insurance

1. Get some sunlight

Make sure you’re getting some vitamin D during the day. Natural light helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm which makes falling asleep of an evening so much easier.

2. Manage your body clock

Know what time you need to head to bed and put away any screens (TV, phone, laptop) two hours before that. Bonus points if you can dim your lights, or just use lamps.

3. Keep calm

Put down the red wine and coffee. Before heading to bed, it’s important to minimise anything that might increase your heart rate – alcohol, caffeine, sugar or large meals.

4. Create a slumber space

Minimise loud noises, raise (or lower) the temperature and spray calming essential oils. Basically, take some inspiration from a day spa and turn your bedroom into a relaxing retreat.

An infographic explaining the four stages of sleep and their benefits

5. Practise mindfulness

A University of Utah study found that practising mindfulness could help improve sleep. Holly Rau, one of the students who took part in the study explained, “Higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress.”

Smiling Mind partnered with nib foundation to launch a free 21-night sleep program to provide you with the tools and techniques to help build healthier sleep patterns. Download the Smiling Mind app and head to the 'Adult Programs' tab for more.

6. Get into a routine

Prepare your body for rest by establishing a routine before bed; take a bath, spend some time with your partner or read a book. Also, try and go to sleep at the same time every evening.

7. Don’t get into bed straight away

This may seem counterproductive, but it’s important not to jump under the covers until you’re ready for some shut-eye. If you’re wide awake, you’ll just lay in bed wide awake for hours (probably tossing up which superpower would be better – being able to breathe underwater or fly). If you hop into bed and find you can’t fall asleep, get up and go into another room. Find a relaxing activity like reading or listening to music until you actually feel tired.

The most important thing to remember is making long-term changes to your sleep patterns won’t happen overnight. Keep with you bedtime routine for a few weeks so it becomes a habit and work your way up to the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night to keep you looking and feeling your best.

nib foundation partner, Smiling Mind’s offers a free, easy-to-use app that provides mindfulness meditation training programs that you can do anywhere, anytime. The app has already reached two million people across the globe and is used by tens of thousands of educators in schools. For more information, head to the Smiling Mind website.

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