The New Year is upon us and as we lay out our grand plans for 2019, there’s one simple thing that should be at the top of your list of resolutions.
If you find that you need an alarm to get yourself out of bed every morning, then chances are you’re not getting enough sleep.
And given that being well rested will impact basically every area of your life – work, weight and stress just to name a few – a healthy sleep routine should be at the very top of your New Year to do list.
An Australian sleep survey in 2016 revealed that around 40 per cent of Australians get too little sleep to feel rested and able to function at their best.
For adults aged between 18 and 64, the recommended amount is between seven to nine hours, with only eight per cent of people saying they get more than that.
But there are many of us that get less than five hours a night, and as a result, struggle to get through the day.
What you’re doing wrong
Sleep doctor to Oprah Winfrey herself, Dr Michael Breus, told Yahoo Lifestyle that the biggest sleep mistake people make is actually going to bed too early.
Quite often people will feel tired early in the evening and think that by going to bed early they will be able to catch up on all their sleep. Sadly this rarely works, according to Dr Breus.
“What invariably happens is they get into bed and they are physically exhausted and their brain won’t turn off. They sit and stare at the ceiling for 2-3 hours,” he said.
“What people don’t realise is there are two systems for sleep, sleep drive which makes you fall asleep and your circadian rhythm – the thing that tells your body when it’s time to sleep.
“Just because you have a lot of drive doesn’t mean your rhythm is there yet. There is a balance that has to be achieved, so the biggest problem is going to bed too early and it just becomes frustrating.”
While everyone has a different sleep need, he has a few tips for getting yourself ready for a good night’s sleep which will be great to try in 2019:
Cut caffeine in the afternoon
“Stay away from caffeine because that lasts for hours, instead maybe just duck outside, go for a walk to the letter box, just something to give yourself a little activity to carry you to your bedtime then you’ll be exhausted, it will be the right time and you’ll fall asleep much easier,” he said.
He recommends having your last cup of coffee before 2pm.
Set a bedtime – even on weekends
Having a regular bedtime that you stick to every night of the week is essential, according to Dr Breus.
It means saying goodbye to sleep ins (as you have to wake up at the same time every day too) but it helps get your body into a regular rhythm.
Exercise during the day, not night
Dr Breus is a big fan of regular exercise as a means of helping you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, but he recommends ceasing all physical exercise at least four hours prior to bedtime.