Getting a good night’s sleep
Friday 19 March was World Sleep Day, an annual event highlighting the importance of sleep to our overall health and wellbeing.
Restful sleep has been found to:
- improve concentration and memory
- improve decision making
- lower blood pressure
- improve immunity
- make it easier to maintain a healthy weight
- improve mood
- improve overall ability to manage stressful events
Going to bed at the same time each night can help you, as can establishing a personal wind-down routine. Your routine could include relaxing activities like having a bath, a warm shower, listening to music, reading a book, doing some controlled breathing or meditating.
For optimal sleeping conditions, make sure your bedroom is restful and comfortable. A slightly cooler room of 16-20 degrees Celsius has been shown to help with sleep. Prevent as much light and disruptive noise entering your room as possible. Ear plugs and white noise can help manage disturbing noise, while eye masks and block-out blinds or curtains can help with light.
To improve your ability to fall asleep at night, there are a number of activities you can avoid or limit such as not drinking caffeine in the afternoon. Also avoid consuming a heavy meal or exercising within two hours before going to bed. Smoking at any time is harmful to you and can also disturb your sleep.
Alcohol might help you get to sleep in the short term, but will interfere with the stages of sleep and your overall quality of sleep. Talk to your doctor about safe alternatives if you are having trouble sleeping as there are medications can assist or there might be an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed. They can help you to understand your particular problem and refer you to an appropriate specialist if needed.
Our two-day Sleeping Better program can also help you manage disturbed sleep. Sessions are open to all current and ex-serving ADF members, their partners and adult children.
If you are having nightmares or reliving traumatic memories, please speak to a mental health professional for further advice. Open Arms counsellors are available to help 24/7 on 1800 011 046.