Body & Fitness

Slumber by numbers

Count down to the perfect sleep
Sleep tips

Fed up with restless nights staring at the ceiling? Getting your sleep back on track starts the second you wake up. How well you sleep at night is determined by what you do during the day and, crucially, what time you do it. We’ve spoken to the experts and found the perfect daily routine to guarantee some serious shut-eye. You’ll wake up ready to take on the world!

7am: Don’t snooze

Hands off the snooze button! Ten or 20 minutes’ extra sleep at this point will only make you feel groggy when you finally do get up. Scientists call this fuzzy feeling “sleep inertia”, and it can last for up to four hours, totally ruining your morning and potentially your ability to drift off tonight too.

12pm: Go for a walk

An outdoor workout at noon burns off energy, so you’re physically exhausted by bedtime. It’s a better option than evening exercise, which can leave you too alert to sleep. You’ll also top up your vitamin D levels. Natural light helps the brain manage your sleep cycle. Sunlight is so important – studies show that office workers who sit by a window sleep 46 minutes longer than those who don’t.

3pm: Last coffee

Every coffee you have within six hours of bedtime robs you of an hour’s shut-eye, say US experts. The same goes for diet cola. For the rest of the arvo, switch to decaf or herbal tea.

6pm: Dinner time

Eating early allows your digestive system to do most of the work before your head hits the pillow. Any later and heartburn or bloating may keep you up. Likewise, one glass of wine now will be out of your body by bedtime.

8pm:Power down

Turning off screens – mobiles, laptops etc – at least 45 minutes before bed means your brain can switch into rest mode. Leave devices outside the bedroom if possible.

9pm: Stay cool

No-one wants to go to bed feeling chilly, but believe it or not, a subtle drop in core body temperature is essential to falling asleep. Ease into this sleepy state by taking a shower (not too hot) and changing into cotton PJs that won’t cause you to overheat. Being too hot can wake you up in the night and lead to strange dreams too.

10pm: Set an alarm

Going to bed at the same time every night cues your body to shift into sleep mode so you can get the seven to nine hours that adults need. Setting the alarm for the same time every morning – including weekends – is crucial so as not to disturb the pattern. Once you adopt this plan, you’ll bound out of bed every Saturday anyway!

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