How to Naturally Improve Your Sleep

Written by Kylie Lucas, Pharmacist

Sleep – we all need it, and if we don’t get enough of it, we can really struggle to get through our day! Lack of sleep can also have a subtle but important impact on our relationships, work and leisure activities.

So what can you do to improve your snooze?  Here are a few tips: 

1. Check your medications 
Did you know that some common medications can contribute to sleeplessness?
Some medications used for conditions like asthma, colds and flu, depression and weight loss (to name but a few) can have insomnia as a side effect. To see whether your medication may be affected, check the Consumer Medication Information within the MedAdvisor app and speak to your pharmacist for personalised advice on this issue.
It may be possible to minimise the impact by taking the dose at a certain time of day, or perhaps changing to an alternative treatment.

2. Help your body clock
Your body produces hormones such as melatonin which works to regulate your sleep patterns. Jet lag, shift work, irregular bedtimes and even the change of seasons can all put our body clock out of sync. This means we may feel wide awake when it’s time for bed or feel excessively sleepy during the day. Try to keep to regular times for retiring to bed and getting up in the morning.

3. Avoid the stimulants
Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and strenuous exercise too late in the day can all lead to an unsettled night’s sleep. Swap your afternoon coffee for decaf or even better, hydrate with water to get you through that afternoon energy slump.

4. Prepare your sleeping environment
Is your bedroom too light? Perhaps your bedding is too hot or cold? Remember that as the seasons change you may need to adjust your choice of bedding. Even too much background noise can disrupt your sleep so perhaps try some earplugs to see if this helps.

5. Create some positive habits.
A warm bath half an hour before bed, some gentle stretches or playing some calm music can all help prepare your body for rest. Herbal tea or a glass of milk may even help you to relax. If you can, try and turn off your mind and leave your stress for tomorrow. Writing your thoughts down, or visualising a soothing pleasant scene, like the beach or a garden, can help to reduce your stress. 
It might take a couple of weeks for these changes to start to work, but you know you’ll be setting yourself up for better sleep patterns in the future. Plus, it’s a lovely relaxing way to end the day!

This post was written by Kylie Lucas. Kylie has been a pharmacist for over 10 years and works in a country town pharmacy in the south west of Western Australia. She lives on a farm with her husband, daughter and lots of pet animals.

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