How to Get Better Sleep: 5 Science-Backed Strategies


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We love sleep, but most of us don't get enough high quality sleep. If you are tossing and turning at night, these simple tips will help you sleep better at night.

1. Set a caffeine curfew 6 hours before bedtime.

Cup of coffee

A study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that caffeine consumed within 6 hours of bedtime significantly disrupted sleep. 

Caffeine is a stimulant - it speeds up the signals in our nervous system and increases alertness. However, caffeine is merely restoring performance from poor sleep (Roehrs & Roth, 2008). 

Limit your coffee and caffeinated drinks before your sleep to reduce sleep disturbance and daytime sleepiness.

2. Avoid eating large meals in the evening.

Large family dinner

Our human body expects to be fasting throughout the night during our sleep. However, eating late at night interrupts this overnight fast. A study showed that consuming a large volume of carbohydrates before sleep caused frequent arousals and poorer sleep quality (Jalilolghadr et al., 2011). 

Did you know? Night Eating Syndrome (NES) is a relatively novel disorder that is gaining attention for its contribution to the development and maintenance of obesity (Vander, 2011).

So refrain from eating in the hours prior to your bedtime, so you can not only sleep better but also manage your weight.

3. Reduce blue light exposure near bedtime.

Blue light from Macbook laptop

Studies have shown that light affects our behaviour and physiology, including the secretion of hormones and brain activity (Chellappa et al., 2011).

Our eyes are particularly sensitive to blue light. Even at low levels, blue light interferes with our melatonin secretion and our slow-wave activity during sleep (Chellappa et al., 2013). This means it will be more difficult to fall asleep and sleep quality will also be poorer.

To reduce blue light exposure, wear glasses that block blue light. There are also apps you can download onto your phone, laptop or computer that can block blue light.

4. Drink chamomile tea.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is a herb has long been used as a natural health remedy for insomnia, inflammation and anxiety. Studies reveal that chamomile contains an antioxidant that may help initiate sleep.

It has been shown to improve the quality of sleep amongst the elderly (Mohsen & Seyedeh, 2017), postnatal women (Shao-Min & Chung-Hey, 2015), and adults with chronic insomnia (Suzanna et al., 2011). 

5. Sleep in a cool room.

Woman sleeping in bed

Our sleep is highly regulated by temperature and light. Our body's core temperature naturally increases prior to sleep and is maintained at a lower level when we are asleep (Fletcher et al., 1999). By mimicking this pattern, you can initiate better sleep.

Take a warm shower or footbath right before you sleep (Raymann et al., 2006). However, make sure that your bedroom remains around 18 degrees Celcius, as warmer temperatures can disturb your sleep. 

Key takeaway

Sleep is essential for wellbeing. Try these tricks to optimise your pre-sleep routine and environment with a few simple tricks, so you can get a better night's sleep. 

How to Get Better Sleep: 5 Science-Backed Strategies

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References

  1. Chang, S. M., & Chen, C. H. (2016). Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of advanced nursing72(2), 306-315.
  2. Chellappa, S. L., Steiner, R., Blattner, P., Oelhafen, P., Götz, T., & Cajochen, C. (2011). Non-visual effects of light on melatonin, alertness and cognitive performance: can blue-enriched light keep us alert?. PloS one6(1), e16429.
  3. Chellappa, S. L., Steiner, R., Oelhafen, P., Lang, D., Götz, T., Krebs, J., & Cajochen, C. (2013). Acute exposure to evening blue‐enriched light impacts on human sleep. Journal of sleep research22(5), 573-580.
  4. Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine9(11), 1195-1200.
  5. Fletcher, A., Heuvel, C. V. D., & Dawson, D. (1999). Sleeping with an electric blanket: effects on core temperature, sleep, and melatonin in young adults. Sleep22(3), 313-318.
  6. Jalilolghadr, S., Afaghi, A., O'Connor, H., & Chow, C. M. (2011). Effect of low and high glycaemic index drink on sleep pattern in children. JPMA-Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association61(6), 533.
  7. National Sleep Foundation (2015). "National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times". Sourced from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times
  8. Raymann, R. J., Swaab, D. F., & Van Someren, E. J. (2007). Skin temperature and sleep-onset latency: changes with age and insomnia. Physiology & behavior90(2-3), 257-266.
  9. Roehrs, T., & Roth, T. (2008). Caffeine: sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep medicine reviews12(2), 153-162.
  10. Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future. Molecular medicine reports3(6), 895-901.
  11. Zick, S. M., Wright, B. D., Sen, A., & Arnedt, J. T. (2011). Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: A randomized placebo-controlled pilot study. BMC complementary and alternative medicine11(1), 78.

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