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Sleep patterns for brain health

Sleep patterns for brain health

Sleep plays a major role in brain health. It is critical for alertness, mood, daytime functioning
and cognition.

Increasing evidence shows that sleep disturbance can increase the risk of developing depression,
cognitive problems and possibly dementia later in life.

Sleep disturbances include:

  • shorter sleep periods
  • frequent waking
  • reduced sleep quality
  • obstructive sleep apnoea

In general, adults should aim for 7–8 hours sleep. Various factors can affect the quality of our sleep.

These include:

  • medical conditions
  • depression or anxiety
  • substance and medication use
  • daily sleep habits
  • breathing problems.

However, with the right support and lifestyle changes, sleep disturbance can be managed.

Ways to improve your sleep patterns:

Establish a sleep schedule

Get up at the same time every day to set your ‘body clock’.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine
A good bedtime routine helps tell your brain and body that it is time for sleep.

Maintain a good sleep environment
Your bed should be comfortable and not too hot or cold. Remove distractions like a
TV, radio or phone.

Be smart about napping
Try to keep them to 30 minutes in the early afternoon.

Keep physically active
Physical activity helps regulate our body clock, helps us fall asleep, increases deep sleep and
reduces night waking. Get some ideas for playful actives on our play page and active rest on our rest page.

Don’t force sleep
If you can’t fall sleep, move to another area of the house. Sit quietly with no TV, computer,
lights or snacks, and return to bed when you feel tired again.

Don’t use sleeping medications as a long-term solution
Sedative hypnotics and the benzodiazepine class of drugs should only be used for short-term assistance (i.e. no longer than two weeks).

Source: Healthy brain healthy life by Dementia Australia.

Follow @EatPlayRestAustralia on Instagram, for more brain-healthy tips and inspiration.

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