We’re all guilty of at least one.
By
Jody Phan

18 Mar 2016 - 12:25 AM  UPDATED 4 May 2016 - 9:34 AM

We’ve all experienced loss of concentration or irritable moods due to lack of a good night’s sleep. But most of us are also guilty of doing at least one thing that contributes to sleep deprivation.

A third of Australians say they lack sleep, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. Here are things you should stop doing if you want to wake up feeling energised and refreshed.

Bring technology into bed
Many of us (myself included) watch a movie or TV series on the laptop before going to sleep. But research has shown that bright screens on our devices suppresses melatonin, a hormone that maintains the body's circadian rhythm — otherwise known as your body clock — and promotes sleep. Prof. Dorothy Bruck, Sleep Psychologist with the Sleep Health Foundation, advises that bright screens should be avoided at least 90 minutes before bed time.

Drinking tea or coffee, even decaffeinated sorts
We all know caffeine is a stimulant and therefore can make it more difficult to fall asleep if consumed in the hours before bed. But it also leads to a lighter sleep, not to mention more bathroom visits in the middle of the night. For those who crave a hot drink before tucking in, opt for herbal tea varieties such as camomile tea instead. “Camomile tea has been shown to increase serotonin levels and have a calming effect that builds up over time,” Bruck says.

Prof. Dorothy Bruck, Sleep Psychologist with the Sleep Health Foundation, advises that bright screens should be avoided at least 90 minutes before bed time.

Eating spicy foods
Have you ever remembered waking up from nightmares after having Thai or Indian food for dinner? That’s because research suggests that eating spicy foods before bed can trigger more dreams because it increases the body’s metabolism and temperature. “Eating any heavy meal before bed isn’t a good idea,” Bruck says. “It’s best not to have any meals an hour or two before bed.”

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Drinking alcohol
While having one glass of red wine before bed time isn’t going to be problematic, Bruck says the issue comes with having greater amounts of it. “You’re more likely to wake up more times during the night and therefore have a fragmented second half of sleep,” she explains.

“Stressful, late night phone calls with relatives or friends can keep people awake for a long time and should be avoided."

Calling or texting people
Bruck notes it’s important to avoid emotional upsets before bed, which can be triggered by a call or text to family members or loved ones. “Stressful, late night phone calls with relatives or friends can keep people awake for a long time and should be avoided,” she says.

Leaving all the lights on
Having a well-lit home in the evenings may hinder sleep for some people when it comes to bed time. Bruck suggests opting for “dimmer lighting during the evenings” for those who are more sensitive to the effects of light.

If you suffer from persistent lack of sleep or restlessness, you might be one of the 1.2 million Australians suffering from a sleep disorder. You can seek help from a sleep specialist or psychologist using the Australasian Sleep Association’s Sleep Services Directory.

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