Sleep is critical for achieving optimal health, safety, and productivity in life’s pursuits. It plays a critical role in metabolism, immune function, muscle growth, energy, mood, learning and memory.
4 in 10 Australians frequently suffer from inadequate sleep.
In 2016-17, sleep deprivation was linked to 3,017 Australian deaths - 394 deaths from falling asleep while driving or from industrial accidents and 2,623 deaths from heart disease or diabetes.
Being awake for 16 hours or more causes changes in brain activity
Sleep deprivation costs Australians $66.3 billion annually.
Almost 20 years ago, sleep research pioneer, William Dement MD said, “You’re not healthy, unless your sleep is healthy”
Wakefulness and sleep occur from the actions of two opposing internal forces
The body has a biological clock (circadian rhythm) that controls the daily oscillation of different bodily functions, including body temperature and neurohormone secretion
White (visible) light is made up of all the colours of the rainbow. Of these colours, blue light has more thermal energy and will affect your ability to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night, while red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin
Light. Make sure you are exposed to 10,000 lux for 30 minutes every day – that’s full daylight (not direct sun). The best time to do this is early in the morning, between 6.00 and 8.30am, when the circadian rhythm is the most responsive. In winter, exposing eyes to natural light, even on a cloudy day, will produce a favourable response.
Devices. Turn off all screens, including TV, radio, music devices and mobiles, to help your mind and body switch off well before bedtime. This allows melatonin and cortisol levels to normalize
Caffeine and Alcohol. These affect adenosine, a neurotransmitter which decreases neural activity and facilitates sleep
Schedule. A regular sleep schedule keeps the circadian sleep/wake cycle synchronized, resulting in fewer reports of insomnia and depression
Gut microbiome. Microbiota activates the vagus nerve, affecting the circadian clock, which in turn regulates the microbiota
Exercise. This enables falling asleep faster with more time in deep sleep and less night time awake
Inner Chatter. Worrying about a problem or a long to-do list can be a recipe for insomnia
Relaxing rituals. Follow relaxing and enjoyable daily rituals before bedtime to help you fall asleep and sleep well
Sleep environment. Blocking out light, quietness, comfort and ambient temperature are key
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining good health. Practising good sleep hygiene will help you to not only feel better, but will also protect your heart, brain, metabolism and mood.