Have you ever found yourself awake at night, tossing and turning as you try desperately to get some shut eye?
You’re not alone.
According to a 2017 study by the Sleep Health Foundation, four in ten or 7.4 million Australians suffered inadequate sleep in the 2016 to 2017 financial year.
Four in ten Australians suffer from inadequate sleep according to a 2017 study (stock image) – this is caused by a range of different things
The report estimated that the cost of inadequate sleep in Australia was estimated to be $66.3 billion in 2016-17 (stock image)
The report estimated that the cost of inadequate sleep in Australia was around $66.3 billion in 2016-17, comprising $26.2 billion in financial costs and $40.1 billion in the loss of well-being.
So what’s keeping us up at night and what can we do about it?
Due to excessive use of electronic devices, the main thing our sleep is disrupted by is blue light.
Blue light refers to wavelengths of light which can affect the production of the sleep hormone (stock image)
Blue light refers to the wavelengths of white light which are emitted from electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers and televisions.
During daylight hours, blue wavelengths are beneficial for boosting attention, reaction times and mood.
However, at night, blue light can be our worst enemy.
According to a 2017 release by Harvard University, blue light affects sleep as it impacts on the body’s natural circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion.
The circadian rhythm is the body’s biological clock, which regulates sleeping and waking patterns. The body naturally produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps us to fall asleep.
Sleep Expert, Dr Carmel Harrington (pictured), revealed to FEMAIL exactly how you can stop blue light from harming you
Speaking to FEMAIL, sleep expert and managing director of Sleep for Health, Dr Carmel Harrington, revealed exactly what blue light is doing to your precious sleep quality:
‘What research has found is that blue light, that part of the white light that we get actually stops the production of melatonin,’ she said.
‘So the way it works is when we want to go to sleep at night, when we start to see fading light or darkness, that message gets sent to the back of the brain and the brain starts to produce something called melatonin which is our sleep hormone.
‘And we can’t produce melatonin in light, think of it a bit like a vampire hormone, so it’s produced in the dark and hates the light.’
Usage of electronic devices at night can affect sleep due to blue light exposure.
Blue light blocking glasses are sold in Australia through retailers such as Baxter Blue.
Recently, products such as blue light blocking glasses have come onto the scene, from Australian retailers such as Baxter Blue.
Dr Carmel’s Top 5 Sleep Tips
1. Switch off electronic devices one hour before bed
2. Avoid large meals and exercise three hours before sleeping
3. Drink a glass of hot or warm milk prior to resting
4. Alcohol can be a ‘sleep stealer’
5. Refrain from caffeine after 2pm
Do these glasses help with sleep?
Dr Carmel says that while these glasses and blue light filters can block out the blue light, the red light spectrum can still interfere with sleep.
She said: ‘The thing is: blue light filters are being used more because the research has shown that the blue end of the spectrum is problematic.
‘So we filter that bit of the light out, and so the colour actually changes, but we can still play on our screens.
‘But what they’ve found recently is that the red end of the spectrum actually alerts the brain, and so we start to produce alerting hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. And that will stop us from going to sleep as well.’
Blue light from mobile phones can interfere with a good night’s sleep (stock image)
Dr Carmel’s simple solution for a good night’s rest include ‘switching off one hour before bed time. That’s my absolute number one top priority’.
She also advises avoiding large meals and exercise three hours before sleeping.
Dr Carmel says that exercise can produce the hormone cortisol and increase our core body temperature, which can both affect sleep.
Laptops and phones can emit blue light which can keep us up at night (stock image)
Eating a large meal within three hours of bed can affect sleep, by keeping you in the light stages of sleep, because the body is busy digesting food.
However, there is good news for you snack fiends:
‘The midnight snack is okay. Hot milk works pretty well as well. A glass of warm milk does work really well for us when we want to go to sleep,’ she said.
Rejoice! Dr Carmel approves of midnight snacks and a glass of warm milk before bed (stock image)
She also advises that caffeine after 2pm can affect sleep by making our bodies alert.
In addition, alcohol can be a ‘sleep stealer’.
While it initially puts you to bed as a sedative, it later acts as a stimulant and can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.