Sleeping your way to better health
How much sleep do you get? For young adults 7-9 hours each night is recommended for and 7-8 hours for adults 65 years or older. Prioritising sleep is essential for overall physical and mental wellbeing. As we sleep our body has time to heal and repair our organs in order to reduce diseases occurring in the body, strengthen our immune system and maintain a healthy balance of hormones to keep us functioning at full capacity throughout the day. We all know the feeling of waking up feeling physically strong and ready for the day after a great sleep! But have you considered what happens to your brain when you sleep? The brain controls emotions, learning capacity, memories, attention, behaviour and many more vital functions we take for granted. All of these processes reset and adapt from the previous day as we sleep to ensure efficient cognitive processing for the coming day. Despite all these tangible benefits of sleep we often prioritise less important tasks over going to bed! Watching TV, phone use and laptop use are habits we chose to help ‘wind down’ before bed however these activities actually increase our cognitive alertness and delay sleep.
Social media use before bed can reduce quality of sleep, shorten sleep duration and lengthen the time it takes to fall asleep. Spending time on your phone before bed can disrupt your natural sleep rhythm which controls our sleep- wake cycle meaning it harder to fall asleep and wake up early. Flow on effects for the next day occur including impairing cognitive functioning, poor mental health and daytime fatigue. Inadequate sleep can impact learning capacity, memory, decision making and critical thinking. Consider if ten minutes of scrolling on your phone is worth the impact on your mental health, performance at work and productivity for the next day.
How to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Ban phones and laptops from the bedroom
- Limit caffeine to a morning beverage (caffeine can last in the body for up to 9 hours!)
- Limit alcohol leading up to bedtime
- Daily exercise and time in nature
- Sleep in a dark, cool room
- Go to bed and wake at similar times each day
- Limit social media use throughout the day, especially at night
- Try some gentle stretches before bed to wind down (check out City Osteopathy’s youtube channel for some ideas!)
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Scott, H., Biello, S. M., & Woods, H.C. (2019).Identifying drivers for bedtime social media use despite sleep costs: The adolescent perspective. Sleep Health. 5(6): 539-545.
Vedaa, O., Erevik, E.K., Hysing, M.,Hayley, A. C., & Sivertsen, B. (2019). Insomnia, sleep duration and academic performance: a national survey of Norwegian college and university students. Sleep Medicine: X. 1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590142719300059