5 Habits to Break for Better Sleep

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Do you wake up with a spring in your step? You should, so we’ve gathered five habits to break to ensure your body gets the sleep it deserves.

With an average life expectancy of 80 years, we humans spend approximately 28 years of our lives asleep*. That’s a lot of bed time.

It’s fair to say that the way we sleep, how we sleep, and where we sleep has a massive impact on our everyday health and wellbeing.

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We’ve knuckled down 5 crucial habits to break that will have you feeling sunshine-daisy fresh every morning! You’ll want to keep your eyes open for this.

*According to The Medical Journal of Australia.

1. Avoid naps and sleeping in

That might sound like the worst sentence ever, but it’s true according to the National Sleep Foundation (don’t shoot the messenger!).

When it comes to creating a sleep cycle for your body to get used to, afternoon naps and weekend sleep-ins are a big no-no.

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Arrange a sleep schedule for yourself. This tells your body when it’s time to get up and when it’s time to call it quits for the night.

And the bonus about that daily alarm is that after a while, your body will wake up at that time of morning naturally.

Likewise, we need to hit the hay roughly around the same time every night, generally allowing for 8 hours of sleep. This pattern regulates our circadian rhythms, or what we non-medical folk call a “body clock”.

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Circadian rhythms affect productivity, health and overall mood. For those who suffer from 3:30-itis, try out a proper routine (even a bed time alarm if need be!) to avoid the constant caffeine hit to get you through the day.

Don’t throw off your routine on the weekends – you’re sending mixed signals to your poor body clock! Manage your sleeping patterns and you won’t have to roll out of bed feeling like a zombie.

2. Don’t treat your bedroom like a living room

While this sounds obvious, most of us are guilty of treating our bedroom more like a living room.

We often find ourselves eating in bed, watching a movie while lying down, and sometimes even taking the laptop into the bed to work in a more comfortable space.

This could not be more detrimental to your sleeping pattern. While breakfast in bed is nice every once in a while, do not turn a treat into a habit.

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Leave eating and watching shows for outside the bedroom so you’re consciously aware of when you’re getting tired.

If you’re unwinding on the couch at night, you’ll still need to physically get up and move yourself into bed, meaning you’re more likely to turn off the TV sooner.

If you have a television in the bedroom, take it out into the living room and leave it there. The bedroom is a place to unwind, and as much as we hate to admit it – Netflix isn’t the best way to relax your mind before getting some shuteye. ‘One more episode syndrome’, be gone!

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This applies for phones too – avoid the routine Facebook scroll. Better yet, try soothing your mind by reading a best-selling novel or listening to relaxing music instead. A healthy sleep routine is everything.

The professionals at the Sleep Health Foundation also say a brightly lit environment isn’t optimal for getting your mind to shut off. So utilise that bedside lamp and enjoy some mood lighting too.

3. Limit caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes

The four hours before sleep is crucial in terms of what you consume before going to bed. In that time frame, avoid beverages that have high doses of caffeine – coffee, tea and soft drinks.

Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and encourages that adrenaline rush that keeps us awake – something you don’t want when trying to fall asleep at night.

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Nicotine is also a stimulant and should also be avoided at least two hours before bed, according to the Sleep Health Foundation.

Ditching the night time cigarette also lessens the risk of sleep apnea.

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While we generally associate a nice glass of wine with relaxing downtime, the experts also say that even though alcohol might help us feel sleepy, it does not allow us maintain restful sleep throughout the night.

Alcohol commonly means a disrupted sleep with more frequent awakenings during the second half of the night. Maybe we should just listen to mum after all and go for the good ol’ glass of warm milk!

4. Ditch your dingy bedding

If you walked into a hotel and saw that your stay for the night was a dingy bed with a flat pillow and a thin, worn-out quilt, you’d probably know instantly that you were for one uncomfortable night.

Don’t get accustomed to feeling this way in your own bedroom.

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Make your bed a sleeping sanctuary that you’ll love to fall into at the end of the day. The bedroom is all about plush texture – full cushions, thick quilts, cosy blankets and soft throws.

Fill your bed with cosy layers to bring warmth. Of course, to make it more inviting, it helps to know how to make your bed like a pro.

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When it comes to picking a pillow, take some time to figure out what kind of support your body needs.

Explore your options, there are plenty on the market – duck feather, cotton, memory foam, and wool, just to name a few. This is one of the more crucial purchases you will ever make – you’re sleeping on it at the end of every day after all!

Don’t forget about mattress and pillow protectors. As well as the added comfort, they ensure long-lasting life for your bedding.

5. Don’t put up with a dodgy mattress

Following from the point above, the biggest part of what makes a comfortable sleeping environment is the very thing you’ll be laying on to give you support, warmth, and ultimately, rest – the star of the bedroom: the mattress.

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A mattress is a vital purchase. You need a surface with just the right amount of firmness and softness, warmth and breathability, contouring and minimum sleep disturbance.

It’s important for you to take notice of when your old mattress needs replacing. Have you flipped yours over one too many times?

Don’t avoid clear signs. Take the time to assess what you’re sleeping on – don’t torture your body in the hours it’s meant to recover. Seek out your GP for medical advice. For more information, visit the Sleep Health Foundation.

Natalie Milad is a content and blog writer who studied journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney. Since her graduation in 2016, she has landed a gig at Zanui. Her days not writing are usually filled with DIY projects, floury benchtops and tending to her bunny. Natalie loves animated short films, animals and Christmas. She has experience in script writing, news reading and interviewing. Among her favourites was interning for The Bridal Bazaar.