Sleep Hygiene

WHAT IS SLEEP HYGIENE?

Sleep hygiene is a term which is used to describe good sleep habits. These are things that you can do to give yourself the best opportunity for a refreshing sleep. Good sleep is influenced by many factors. There has been a considerable amount of research done to develop good guidelines and tips to enhance good sleeping. The evidence shows that these tips or strategies can provide long term solutions for sleep difficulties.

HOW MUCH SLEEP IS ENOUGH?

Here is a guide to how much sleep is needed during our lifespan:

Newborns: 12 – 18 hours
Infants: 14 – 15 hours
Toddlers: 12 – 14 hours
Preschoolers: 11 -13 hours
School aged: 10 – 11 hours
Teenagers: 8.5 – 9 hours
Adults: 7 -9 hours
Elderly: 5 -7 hours

EFFECTS OF POOR SLEEP

There are many medications which are used to help with poor sleep, but these are effective only for the short term. Ongoing use of these medications (sleeping tablets) may lead to dependence, and possible hinder developing good and effective sleep habits. Some risks/effects of poor sleep:

  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of diabetes Type 2
  • Increased risk of weight gain
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Memory lapses
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Severe yawning
  • Impaired immune system

Everyone has nights where they have trouble with sleeping. Discuss any concerns about sleep discuss with your GP or family doctor.

BEFORE YOU GO TO BED

Keep to an evening routine including time for healthy sleep hygiene activities:

  • Include an hour of quiet time before bed such as reading, watching TV or listening to music
  • Reduce extreme light, temperature and noise in the bedroom
  • Avoid engaging in any stressful activities or unpleasant tasks near bedtime

IN THE 2 HOURS BEFORE YOU GO TO BED:

  • Avoid eating heavy meals
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
  • Limit how much water and other fluid you drink
  • Relax and have ‘time out’
  • Avoid watching TV or browsing the internet

TOP TIPS

  • Make routine times for going to sleep and waking – same bedtime, same wake time
  • Use the bedroom only for sleeping, reading or sexual activity
  • If you can’t sleep after 20minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel tired and then try again

Written by Sarah Hristov Clinical Consultant Nurse
South West Sydney Local Health District

QUICK SNAPS