About 60% of Australian adults experience poor quality sleep. Markers of poor-quality sleep includes trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and waking too early and not being able to fall back asleep. These markers of poor sleep quality lead to a reduction in sleep, correlating with decreased cognition such as impaired attention, memory, increased mathematical mistakes and feelings of sleepiness. Physiological impacts of poor sleep include increased risk of CVD, diabetes, hypertension, and mental health concerns.   

Busy work schedules, diet, choice of drinks, stress and technology all contribute to our quality of sleep. But what do all these have in common? They are all modifiable factors which we can change and manipulate in order to improve our sleep.   

Much like general personal hygiene habits that keep you healthy, like washing your hands or brushing your teeth. Sleep hygiene is the concept of developing these every day hygiene habits to improve our quality of sleep.   

So, what habits can we bring in towards the end of the day to set ourselves up for a good night’s sleep?   

Have a Dedicated Bedtime   

Whilst your busy throughout the day, your body is running off a 24-hour clock, known as your circadian rhythm. This internal clock impacts all things in our day from when we wake up, feelings of hunger and our sleep. Individuals such as shift workers, those who travel and experience jet lag regularly or those who experience levels of blindness often have poor circadian rhythms.    

By sticking to a dedicated bedtime, our body can start producing a hormone known as melatonin which helps to promote sleep and keep us asleep throughout the night. Try winding your day down somewhere between 2 hours and 30mins before this dedicated sleep time.   

Technology Use 

For many, binge watching the latest show on Netflix or scrolling through Instagram is an ingrained in the nightly routine. Although this might it feel like it’s helping you to wind down, it’s actually counterproductive for inducing sleep.   

Technologies such as phones and computers emit blue light, signalling to your brain that its daytime. As such, your brain stops the production of that all-important hormone, melatonin, preventing you from starting to feel sleepy and help you to stay asleep throughout the night.   

Whilst it’s easier said than done, there is whole lot of features you can use on your phone to help prepare you and your brain for sleep. Sleep schedules, do not disturb, red light and app limits are all features that can be utilised on your phone to help reduce your use of technology in the lead up to bed.   

Food and Drink Choices  

You know that warm, sleepy feeling you might feel after a glass of red? It’s a good feeling, and initially 2-3 alcoholic drinks may promote sleep, however studies show that these feelings and effects from alcohol diminish after three continual days of use. Consumption of alcohol before bed also increases the risk of acid reflux and trips to the bathroom, disturbing sleep patterns.   

Heavy, high caloric meals, especially those high in carbohydrates and fat, within a period 30 to 60 minutes before bed increases the time until sleep, reducing quality and quantity of sleep.  

Whilst going to bed on an empty stomach isn’t recommended, as feelings of hunger also disturb sleep, finding a middle ground is important. Try having dinner earlier in the evening and if you’re hungry before bed, foods such as grapes, strawberries, oats and nuts are all high in melatonin, helping to promote sleep. A cup of chamomile tea or lavender oil on your pillow before bed can also help to wind the body down, ready for sleep.   

Music and Podcasts   

For many, racing thoughts and planning for the following day keeps them awake. To combat this, listening to a relaxing playlist, podcast or sleep aids such as pink and white noises can help to black out those distractions.   

For those who are light sleepers, noises such as a car honking or a dog barking may often wake you up. White noise is a continuous sound frequency that can help to mask these sudden changes in the environment and help to maintain your sleeping state. Similarly, pink noise is more soothing sounds such as rainfall, wind or waves crashing.   


One of the best things you can do to prepare for sleep is creating a calm and conducive bedroom environment. Easy things such as putting clothes away, having a made bed with clean sheets, closing blinds to create a dark space and turning off noisy electronics (using the dryer, kid’s toys, phone) can have large benefits to sleep.   

The temperature of the room in which you are sleeping in is also very important. Whilst being warm and cosy may feel the best, a room with a temperature between 15-19°C is really what we are looking for. These cooler temperatures help to stimulate the production of melatonin.   

A hack to speed this up and increase feelings of sleepiness and readiness for bed is to have a hot bath or shower about an hour before bed. By warming the core temperature of the body up, it will quickly decrease in temperature, preparing you for bed. This works because our core body temperature adjusts throughout the day, controlled by our circadian rhythm. However, if our circadian rhythm is interrupted, we may not experience this temperature change and so struggle to feel ready for sleep. Having a hot bath causes our body to work towards cooling our core temperature, inducing a similar signal to that of our circadian rhythm.   

Getting good sleep is one of the best things we can do for our health and recovery. So, let’s start focusing on what we can do.