Over 50% of Australians have difficulties with their sleep and one of the biggest contributors is waking up around 3am and over-worrying. With Sleep Awareness Week approaching (1st October – 7th October) social scientist, biologist and international speaker, Silvia Damiano has offered her expert sleeping tips.
Silvia founded the About My Brain Institute, an organisation that uses neuroscience to develop leaders, teams and cultures through transformational experiences, digital tools and practical training. She believes that adequate sleep is vital for cognitive functioning and overall health and wellbeing no matter what your job title is or stage of life you're in.
Silvia's tips are as follows:
Sleep on the job – despite what people say, it is unproductive to work crazy long hours throughout the day in order to get everything done. Based on scientific research it is actually more productive to have a nap at work. Napping can improve logical reasoning, reduce the number of times that a task has to be repeated, increase vigour and improve psychomotor speed. When you start to feel tired and exhausted in the afternoon, find a quiet spot to close your eyes and rest for 20 minutes. Famous nappers include the likes of Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison.
Prepare the mind AND body – how we sleep is very dependent on how we spent our day. In order to get a good sleep we need to prepare both the mind and body. To prepare the body: Get up at the same time every day, exercise for at least 20 minutes per day, avoid big meals within 3 hours of bedtime. To prepare the mind we need to: Deal with the issues of the day by writing them down before going to sleep, dim the bedroom lights and have a warm shower before bed.
Prioritise sleep – a sleep deprived state contributes to short and long-term health risks including lower immune system (you are more likely to catch infections such as the flu or cold.) As far as long term, the effects can be dramatic, leading to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and a chance to die younger than well-slept people. You can also experience poor mental health and disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Cut the caffeine – As we get older our metabolic rate decreases and the effects of coffee stay in our body longer which can cause sleep difficulties. Avoid caffeine after midday if you want a restful slumber.
Ditch the phone – your phone is killing your sleep habits. Using a device in bed before sleep impacts sleep and leads to poor performance and mental readiness. Develop a 'Go to bed routine'. Read a book, meditate or simply relax (technology free) an hour before going to sleep.
For more information on About My Brain or Silvia, visit www.aboutmybrain.com.