I bet you have heard this one before: Aussies are not getting enough sleep. But did you know a whopping 40 per cent of us fail even to catch six hours of sleep each night? Relying on caffeine may get you through the day, although lack of sleep costs the national economy $17.6 billion each year, which is horrendous.
Beyond decreasing productivity, lack of sleep across a life span is one of the most significant contributors to Alzheimer’s. Those surviving on 5-6 hours sleep, eat 200-300 extra calories a day, which equates to 70,000 calories per year and a 10kg weight gain. Plus, anxiety walks hand-in-hand with insomnia.
That’s why Australia’s leading well-being expert and ambassador for R U OK? Chelsea Pottenger has delivered some necessary sleep hacks to help you achieve sleep goals, thus improve health and day-to-day productivity.
Sleep Hack – Keep Your Socks On
Bin the pyjamas, it’s the socks that count.
81 per cent of people are wearing the wrong clothing or too many clothes in bed. “Your brain needs to drop its temperature by a few degrees to initiate sleep and pyjamas keep you warm rather than cool you down,” says Chelsea.
“By removing and simply keeping your socks on, you will coax the blood away from your core and thermal dump the heat required for a good night’s shut-eye.”
Sleep Hack – Turn Screens Off
A staggering 83 per cent of Australians are ‘Melatonin Vampires’, looking at their phone or watching a screen within 30 minutes of bedtime. This exposure to blue light before bed is pushing your biological clock in the wrong direction and causing an overproduction of melatonin.
Shift work also impacts the body’s circadian rhythm and can lead to serious health issues. Insufficient sleep is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast cancer. The association between the two has become so powerful that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified any form of night shift work as a probable carcinogen.
There’s no easy workaround for shift workers. You may have to reevaluate priorities with this one.
Sleep Hack – Two Standard Drinks Max
Avoid taking the edge off a long day with a drink. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, yet is more likely to disrupt sleep than caffeine or nicotine. People metabolise alcohol at the rate of one drink per hour, but the withdrawal effects persist for another two to four hours, which is when people often feel restless. More than two standard drinks will interrupt deep REM sleep.
Sleep Hack – No Caffeine After Midday
Only 10 per cent of the population can metabolise caffeine before bed; the rest take 4-8 hours for it to be eliminated from their system unless they are extra sensitive and suffer hyper-arousal in which case it is even longer.
This one can be tough, but eating well and getting enough exercise should help achieve this result without too much strain.
Beyond her basic sleep hacks, Chelsea Pottenger has launched the new EQ Sleep 2.0 program, empowering people to make positive changes to their daily life to reduce stress, improve sleep and boost energy.
The 28-day online program, curated by Pottenger, features tools and resources to improve sleep, how-to videos and a selection of downloadable guides to improve sleep hygiene at home or on the move. Collaborators include Frequent flyer Steve Hui from iFLYflat and nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge.
“Winter is an ideal time to address sleep issues, hibernate and recharge the batteries as the shorter days and longer nights aid relaxation,” said Chelsea.
“The Sleep EQ Program is designed to help Australians identify what could be causing their insomnia, shift their sleep mindset and adopt personal rituals for a better night time routine.”
EQ Sleep 2.0 costs just AUD$39, and will provide significantly more in-depth tools for catching Zs than a list of sleep hacks. You can find more information about it and Chelsea’s other programs via the link below.