Getting enough sleep each night is essential to be your best during the day. Many don't realise that a good night of sleep can be the key to managing stress and improving mood and concentration. Most people need an average of seven to nine hours sleep a night. This isn't always easy when things like iPhones, caffeine and stress get in the way of a solid night sleep.

 

How sleep affects learning

Sleepiness slows down your thought processes and leads to lower alertness and concentration. It becomes more difficult to focus and pay attention, so you’re more easily confused. Sleepiness also affects decision making because you have more difficulty assessing situations.

Excessive sleepiness impairs memory. Research suggests that during sleep the nerve connections that make memories are strengthened. Different phases of sleep play different roles in consolidating new information into memories. So if your sleep is disrupted, it interferes with these cycles and the formation of new memories.

What you can do

Keep a regular schedule

Go to bed when you are tired and get up at about the same time each morning.

Reduce worrying

If you're worrying about things during the night, set aside some time for problem-solving during the day.

Create a positive sleep environment

This might include sleeping with comfortable pillows and ensuring that your space is free from tempting technology.

Try to use your bed only for sleep and sex.

Avoid caffeine

Lay off caffeine after 2pm. This includes coffee, strong tea, cola or energy drinks.

Avoid using alcohol to help you sleep

As your body breaks down alcohol, it causes you to sleep less deeply and to wake more frequently.

Wind down

Allow yourself time to chill before going to bed. If you are working or studying, stop at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Looking at a screen can trick you into thinking it's daytime.

Avoid getting restless

If you are not asleep after 20 minutes in bed, go to another room until you feel tired and then go back to bed.

Exercise regularly

But not too late in the evening as it will make it harder to fall asleep.

 

Support online

Find out more about sleep health on Sleep Health Foundation and Reach Out.

Apps that help sleep

  • Try a silent alarm clock and personal sleep coach with Lark Up.

  • Being physically active during the day will lead to feeling tired at night. Increase your exercise with Couch to 5K.