Why your bed is for sleep and sex, and not your smartphone

Author to visit: Dr Shane Pascoe will discuss his newest book at the Port Macquarie Library on October 26.

Author to visit: Dr Shane Pascoe will discuss his newest book at the Port Macquarie Library on October 26.

Having trouble sleeping?

Tried counting sheep, reading the federal budget, or perhaps your mind just won’t stop working?

A new book by Dr Shane Pascoe and Professor Graham Law – its called Sleep Better – could be the answer.

The book explores the myths surrounding sleep – and it even covers 40 myths of sleep that form the basis for most sleep behaviour which in turn are often considered the root of the very common problem of poor sleep.

Dr Pascoe is a  Newcastle-based psychologist with 20 years’ experience helping people with a variety of issues often involving sleep problems.

With children aged 6, 4 and 2, sleep is the one area of Shane’s life that influences all others.   

Dr Pascoe says there are seven basic tips to a good night’s sleep.

“Firstly, sleep is as individual as you are, which means that eights hours sleep is not for everyone,” he said.

“The stress of worry about having too much sleep or more likely not enough does not help. Take a scientific approach, start writing down what you notice about your sleep, amount, disruptions, and quality and work it out for yourself.

“Structure helps too so do things – like sleep – the same time each day, every day and including weekends.

“Exposure to light and when we eat meals or when are out most active are important signposts for our body to regulate itself effectively.

“Jetlag and shiftwork can make a significant impact on these processes.

“Thirdly, I’d consider meditation. At least it is better than just sitting there doing nothing! Relaxation techniques, yoga, and mindfulness meditation are all effective ways to sleep better. These techniques provide structure in your day, reduce stress and improve positive emotions.”

Your bed is just for sleep and sex. Not screens.

Dr Shane Pascoe

And ditch the smartphone, he recommends.

“Your bed is just for sleep and sex. Not screens.

“Exposure to screens that produce blue light – like a TV, laptop, a phone - disrupts your body clock by suppressing melatonin. 

“If you wake in the middle of the night and struggle to return to sleep with worry - change the routine. Take your attention away from the worry, let your mind accept this as normal for you, that you have survived with limited sleep for a day before and that this will help the chances of going to sleep the next night.”

Dr Pascoe said the two remaining tips relate to anxiety and depression which are both causes and impacted by poor sleep and think of technology to help your sleep.

“Ask for a referral to a psychologist when you next visit your GP if anxiety and or depression are are a problem more days than not,” he said.

“Some smartphone apps claim to measure your sleep pattern and use your preferred wake-up time to manage when you wake-up to prevent grogginess.

“Best to measure how this works for you and if you need to then carry on using a traditional alarm. Avoid the snooze button though as that extra sleep may lead to a feeling of grogginess and make the drain of getting up that much harder.”

Dr Pascoe will give a talk about the importance of sleep and his latest book at the Port Macquarie Library on October 26, 2017 at 6 pm. Contact the library for more information.