Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep or find yourself constantly waking up feeling groggy after a seemingly uninterrupted sleep? Don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, did you know that insufficient sleep costs the Australian economy $17.88 billion per year?
According to Oxford University’s published journal, SLEEP, inadequate sleep is a public health concern affecting more than one in three adults worldwide. Yet, recent surveys suggest that this number has increased, with 33 – 45 percent of Australian adults now experiencing inadequate sleep.
So, why is insufficient sleep so concerning?
Not getting enough sleep isn’t just about having dark circles under your eyes or feeling a little spaced out the next day, it can actually be far more serious than that. In fact, inadequate sleep has been linked to the following health conditions and disorders:
- Lapses in attention and the inability to stay focused
- Reduced motivation
- Compromised problem solving
- Confusion, irritability and memory lapses
- Impaired communication
- Increased systemic inflammation
- Increased risk of cancer and all-cause morbidity
- Increased cravings for food especially sugar
- Increased weight gain
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Slowed or faulty information processing and judgment
- Diminished reaction times
- Indifference and loss of empathy
- Lowered sex drive
- Lack of energy
But, how do I even know if I’m getting insufficient sleep?
It’s simple: if you’re a child or teenager sleeping less than 9-10 hours per night, or an adult sleeping under 8 hours, you’re getting insufficient sleep.
Technically speaking, we should spend 1/3 of our lives in bed…and there’s a good reason for it. When we’re asleep, this is where our body regenerates and heals itself, and where memory formation occurs. Believe it or not, even as little as two hours less sleep per night can reduce testosterone in men by 10 years. Not to mention, it can also increase the chances of you suffering from depression or anxiety disorder by up to 500%.
So, how can I get better quality sleep?
From planning ahead and creating an ideal sleeping space to improving your daily activities and routine to encourage healthy sleeping patterns, there are plenty of ways to improve the quality of your sleep. Here are Switch Nutrition’s top 13 tips for better sleep:
When it comes to ensuring a good night’s sleep, a room that’s too warm will make you sweaty and uncomfortable, and a room that’s too cold will leave you shivering and feeling like you’ve got a head cold come morning. The ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 16 to 20 degrees. A slightly cooler temp will help to decrease your body’s internal thermometer, which will, in turn, encourage a state of sleepiness to ensure you stay comfortable throughout the night.
2. Magnesium, Magnesium, Magnesium
Did you know that 75 to 90 percent of Australian’s are deficient in magnesium? And believe it or not, A lack of magnesium in the body can result in sleeplessness. So, what can you do to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium? Two options: there’s plenty of magnesium-rich foods, such as basil, brazil nuts and spinach, that you can add to your diet. Alternatively, you can try adding a magnesium supplement to your daily regime for a quicker and more convenient option. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, magnesium supplements are shown to improve insomnia and sleep efficiency. Looking for an effective magnesium supplement? Switch Nutrition Adrenal Switch might be just what you need - as it contains one of the most bioavailable sources of magnesium.
Once your body gets into a rhythm of going to bed and waking up at the same hours, you’ll find it becomes much easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally, too. If you’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night (for adults), you should find that you don’t need an alarm clock to get you up in the morning.
4. Get Your Sweat On In The AM
Love the endorphins and adrenaline you feel running through your body after a sweat-worthy workout? It’s all well and good…until it interferes with your sleep at night, right? If you are struggling to get your zzz's in at night after exercise, switch your workout routine to the morning instead. Morning exercise is shown to decrease sleep interference and help treat symptoms of insomnia.
Starting your day with some exposure to natural light (aka sunshine) is an effective way to help balance your body’s melatonin and cortisol levels and serves as a natural source of vitamin D (which are linked to sleep disorders). So, instead of staying cooped up inside or staying in bed to the last possible minute, try kickstarting your day with an early morning walk, or make the most of your lunch break. The vitamin D sourced from sunshine is shown to help support your immune system, inflammation and hormones, helping to create more balance and harmony.
Fun fact: You’ll find a clinical dose of 1,000iu of vitamin D in a daily serving of Switch Nutrition Alpha Switch!
6. Hit The Hay A Little Earlier
Find yourself staying up that little bit longer to squeeze in a few more episodes on Netflix? Or perhaps work, kids or exercise has got you up way past your bedtime? Whatever the reason, it’s time to start clocking off a little earlier and getting a good night’s sleep. Technically speaking, you should be aiming to be in bed by 9pm if you want or need to be up at 5-6am. I mean, if you want to squeeze in some morning sun and exercise, you’ll need to adjust your schedule to allow for an earlier bedtime!
7. Limit Caffeine After 2PM
We can hear a thousand hearts breaking as they read the words “limit” and “caffeine” in the same sentence. We get it: caffeine makes the world go around. However, while you may feel like you’re building a tolerance to caffeine after a few too many years of relying on it at all hours of the day, truth be told, you’re probably not as much as you think you are. In fact, the sleep-disrupting effects of caffeine can last for 6 – 8 hours. A review of two randomised control trials showed that eliminating caffeine for a whole day was able to improve sleep quality and lengthen sleep duration.
Still need a 2pm pick me up? We totally get it! Instead of turning to a cuppa, try an alternative such as Switch Nutrition Vitality Switch instead. This incredible formula contains a range of uplifting herbs, designed to nourish your energy system without the stimulation of your Central Nervous System (CNS). Did we mention, the gut health benefits can also help to boost serotonin production, which may, in turn, boost your mood and improve your quality of sleep.
8. Add Ashwagandha To Your Routine
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb, found in Adrenal Switch, that has been used for centuries as a calming adaptogen. The Latin name of this herb (Withania Somnifera) translates to “help sleep”. But, what makes this herb such a game-changer? Simply put, Ashwagandha helps to regulate cortisol, meaning it indirectly helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, since cortisol is one of the main culprits that stops people from switching off. And we’re not just talking about getting to sleep, cortisol may also interfere with you getting the deep (delta) sleep required for restorative health (the kind that leaves you feeling refreshed and well-rested upon waking up!).
Minimising your exposure to blue light, which is emitted from LED lighting and screens, such as your laptop, tablet or smartphone, is an effective way to increase the release of melatonin in the brain after dark. While you may not feel the results at the time, staring at a screen that emits blue light can enhance the production of cortisol, which can, in turn, reduce your ability to switch off and ease into a comfortable night’s sleep. Can’t avoid blue light at night? We get it: some people only have later hours to study for exams or cram in some after time. If you fall into that category or are simply struggling to switch off at night after spending a few too many hours looking at a screen between 9-5, we recommend getting a pair of blue light blocking glasses, changing your LED lights to warm full-spectrum lights, and dimming your lights as the sun sets.
10. Set Your Dinner Time Wisely
Did you know that you shouldn’t eat within two hours of going to bed? Yep, it’s true… sitting upright helps us digest our food (it essentially let’s gravity do its work). The stomach takes roughly three hours to empty itself, which means waiting at least this amount of time before jumping into bed is ideal for a good night’s sleep!
Yet, it’s not just when we eat, but what we eat that can also impact our sleep quality. While eating carbs at night can be helpful for various reasons, it’s not good to eat sugary sweets, chocolate, simple carbs, juice or high-glycemic fruit just before bed, as it can spike blood sugar, boost your energy and you can wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry — literally fuelling insomnia. Instead, try a little bit of protein with vegetables or a small amount of complex carbohydrates, protein with some good fats, and make sure your last meal is at least two hours before bed.
11. Switch To Flight Mode At Night
If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep or find yourself constantly waking up throughout the night, your WIFI might be to blame. Studies have shown that exposure to EMF radiation from WIFI networks can severely affect sleep patterns, with long-term exposure potentially leading to further problems associated with a lack of sleep, including hypertension and depression. Believe it or not, even if your phone isn’t connected to WIFI, it will always be continuously searching for 4G to connect to, which can be equally as disruptive. Instead, get into the habit of switching your phone to flight mode before you go to bed or putting it on ‘do not disturb’ and disconnecting the WIFI. You’ll be surprised by how much of a difference it makes!
12. Don't Have A TV In Your Bedroom
While the thought of binge-watching old episodes of Friends while snuggled up on your king-size bed might sound desirable, unfortunately, it’s certainly not recommended if you value a good night’s sleep. Here’s why:
- If it’s a smart TV, it will require WIFI (see point 11 for reference)
- It will emit blue light (see point 8 for reference)
- Believe it or not, a TV trains your brain to crave entertainment (dopamine) in the bedroom, which should be reserved for relaxation and the release of serotonin and melatonin.
13. Set Your Room Up For Sleep
From shift workers to new parents, it’s no secret that not everyone has the luxury of going to sleep when it’s dark. However, it’s important to replicate a space that mimics this natural setting so that your body knows when it’s time to switch off. So, if your schedule doesn’t allow for regular sleeping hours, be sure to install blackout curtains or blinds that keep out residual light and potential noise.