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How to get better sleep

Everyone sleeps, but it’s only recently that the media and researchers are beginning to realise just how important sleep is for our overall health. A lack of sleep can impact our immunity, our ability to think clearly and make good decisions, our body weight, and much, much more.

Unfortunately, getting the recommended eight hours of good quality sleep isn’t always easy or achievable. Here are a few ways to improve your sleep:

Stick to a regular bedtime

Our bodies are pretty clever – they even have an internal clock called a circadian rhythm that lets us know when to go to sleep, and when to wake up. When this clock is disrupted, either because we’ve stayed up late or travelled into a different time zone, our bodies become confused and don’t recognise when we should be winding down. The result is that we don’t feel drowsy when we go to bed and aren’t able to get to sleep easily.

Humans are creatures of habit, and by making sure that you are going to bed at around the same time every night, you are giving your internal clock the best chance at working properly.

Limit screen time in the evenings

Electronic devices like our televisions, phones, laptops, and tablets all emit a special kind of light called ‘blue light’ which makes us feel alert. Spending too much time on these devices, especially close to bedtime, makes it harder for our minds and bodies to reach a restful state that leads to good sleep.

If possible, try to limit the amount of time that you spend in front of a screen in the hours leading up to sleep. You can also change the settings on some devices so that they emit a warmer light in the evenings or wear special classes that filter out blue light from screens.

Create a positive sleeping environment

As anyone who has spent time away from their own bed will tell you, your environment can have a huge impact on the quantity and quality of your sleep. Street lights, noisy neighbours, bedding, and climate can all wreak havoc on your ability to wind down, or – perhaps worse – wake you from a deep slumber.

Three key things that we can influence when it comes to our environment are light, sound, and climate. Use block out blinds or a sleep mask to ensure total darkness, buy earplugs to block out noise, and keep your room cool (but not too cold) for a better chance at getting to and staying asleep.

Rule out sleep disorders

Did you know that 1.5 million Australians have sleep disorders, with about half of these suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is the name of a condition where the soft tissues of the throat are so relaxed ruing sleep that they stop air from being able to enter the lungs. This leads people to wake up for brief periods without being able to remember, disrupting their sleep and stopping them from feeling refreshed or restored upon waking. People who suffer from this condition unsurprisingly often feel fatigued during the day time, but they also have an increased risk of snoring, diabetes, and heart disease.

If you think you have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, or that you might be at risk of developing the condition, your pharmacist may be able to help. Capital Chemists provide an Obstructive Sleep Apnoea service that can help to diagnose and treat the condition, with take-home equipment and input from a consultant sleep physician.

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