What’s all the fuss about sleep hygiene?
Well to put it simply, sleep is an essential part of healing and restoring our body to optimal functioning. We all feel miserable after a poor night’s sleep!
When it comes to headaches, migraine and concussion sleep is a crucial piece of the puzzle to help improve brain function and allow healing to occur.
Most adults require about 7-9 hours of nightly sleep. Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 years need 8 to 10 hours sleep. Children and teenagers between 6 and 13 years need more sleep, about 9-11 hours.
Our internal body clock is known as the circadian rhythm. It is a 24-hour cycle which, after waking in the morning, makes a feel increasingly more tired as the day progresses. This peaks in the evening when leading up to bed time. Light influences the circadian rhythm as it signals to the brain whether it is day or night. As the light starts to disappear in the evening our body releases melatonin, a hormone that induces drowsiness. Therefore, we do not want too much artificial light at night time as we don’t want to disrupt our circadian rhythm.
As we wake in the morning the light from the sun helps our body release cortisol that promotes energy and alertness. A walk outdoors does wonders to absorb natural light whether it is off to the train for work, to school or walking the dog. Who knew that releasing melatonin could be your new motivation to put on those walking shoes!
TOP 10 TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP
- Avoid napping during the day
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, high sugar or heavy spicy food, vigorous exercise leading up to bed time. A light snack rich in magnesium and that promotes melatonin production may be helpful – fruit such as strawberries, bananas, cherries, nuts like almonds, oatmeal are some ideas. Herbal teas with no caffeine can be a nice way to calm the mind and relax the body ready for sleep.
- Keep the same bedtime and wake up time. Stick to it, even on the weekends.
- Wake up and enjoying sunlight in the morning can help set the melatonin released for that night’s sleep.
- Cooler, rather than warm temperature, is more conducive to sleep. As the weather (hopefully!) warms up think about cooler sheets.
- Consider a screen ban in the bedroom: TV’s, computers, tablets, mobile phones another electronic devices. The blue light emitted from screens trick the brain into thinking it is still daytime. Your brain then works hard to stay awake.
- Exercise during the day can help your body wind down and prepare for sleep by the evening.
- Create a bedtime routine. Our brain recognises the sequence of activities as a precursor to sleep. We probably teach our children this but forget to do it as an adult! It all helps…Keep your mind focused on relaxation, calming the sympathetic nervous system down ready for sleep.
- Some nice routine ideas include: cup of herbal tea, relaxing bath with essential oils like lavender, vetiver, roman chamomile, listen to calming music or ambient noise. The years of COVID has meant the calming apps out there are plentiful. How does listening to rain falling sound??
- Choose your favourite stretches, Yoga, deep breathing, especially nose breathing. Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique (PMR) is a wonderful way to relieve tension and be mindful of your body. We can teach you here at Sydney Headache and Migraine Centre. Meditation and Mindfulness all go along way in reducing stress, managing emotions.