me&my health up

10 Proven Strategies For Better Sleep | Deliberately Better Sleep

May 16, 2023 me&my wellness / Dr. Damon Ashworth Season 1 Episode 158
me&my health up
10 Proven Strategies For Better Sleep | Deliberately Better Sleep
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

 Are you tired of tossing and turning at night, desperately searching for the secret sauce for a better night's sleep? What if you could unlock the proven strategies that experts use to deliberately sleep better? 

Did you know that a staggering 30% of the population faces challenges in getting a good night's sleep, potentially impacting health, mood, and overall well-being? 

In this eye-opening aka eye-closing episode of me&my health up, host Anthony Hartcher interviews sleep expert Dr. Damon Ashworth, who reveals the science-backed methods for improving sleep quality and overall well-being. Discover how cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTI) can lead to significant improvements in mood, reduced anxiety, stress, and fatigue.

Learn the crucial role of sleep pressure, circadian rhythms, and the right relaxation techniques for a restful night's sleep. Don't miss out on the expert advice that could transform your sleep habits and improve your quality of life - tune in now!


About Dr. Damon Ashworth: 
 

  • Clinical Psychologist with a Doctoral degree from Monash University and Bachelor's degrees from La Trobe University 
  • Volunteered as a Mental Health Specialist in Vanuatu under the Australian Volunteer Program 
  • Expert in sleep and insomnia treatments, with published research on CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia) 
  • Author of "Deliberately Better Sleep," available as an e-book and paperback in 2023 
  • Specialises in Health Psychology, working with patients coping with severe and chronic physical conditions 
  • Experienced in treating trauma-based symptoms in war veterans and individuals with PTSD 
  • Utilises a client-centred approach and various therapy frameworks, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 
  • Passionate about applying the latest empirical findings to help individuals meet their psychological and emotional needs


Connect with Dr. Damon Ashworth:

Website: https://damonashworthpsychology.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/damonashworth/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DamonAshworth
Medium: https://medium.com/@damon.ashworth


To get a copy of Dr. Damon Ashworth’s Deliberately Better Sleep book:

https://damonashworthpsychology.com/book/


About me&my health up & Anthony Hartcher 

me&my health up seeks to enhance and enlighten the well-being of others. Host Anthony Hartcher is the CEO of me&my health up which provides holistic health solutions using food as medicine, combined with a holistic, balanced,

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Any information, advice, opinions or statements within it do not constitute medical, health care or other professional advice, and are provided for general information purposes only. All care is taken in the preparation of the information in this Podcast. [Connected Wellness Pty Ltd] operating under the brand of “me&my health up”..click here for more

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Anthony Hartcher:

Welcome back to another insightful episode of me&my health up. I'm your host, Anthony Hartcher. I'm a clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine specialist. The purpose of this podcast is to enhance and enlighten your well being. And today on the show, we have a sleep expert. Yes, 30% of the population struggles to get a good night's sleep. And so I've invited on the show, Dr. Damon Ashworth, who's a clinical psychologist and who's done a research project back in 2010, has done extensive research around sleep psychology, and he's sharing with us his tips and his insights that he's learnt from the sleep projects, as well as the book he's recently published called get a better night's sleep now, Deliberately Sleep Better is the name of the book. And it's 10 ways in which you can deliberately sleep better. So without much further ado, I'd love to welcome you into the discussion I'm having with Dr. Damon Ashworth. Welcome on the me&my health up podcast how are you? Damon Ashworth?

Damon Ashworth:

I'm good. Thanks for having me on.

Anthony Hartcher:

So glad you could join us. And where are you joining us from?

Damon Ashworth:

Melbourne, Australia. So I've been here for the last year I was in Vanuatu before that.

Anthony Hartcher:

Oh, wow. Very exotic was that COVID driven.

Damon Ashworth:

Little bit. So I was over there volunteering with the Australian volunteer program from 2018 to 2020. And then came back to Melbourne for a little bit during COVID. And then went back and finished the volunteer role.

Anthony Hartcher:

Oh, fantastic. And what are you doing as a volunteer?

Damon Ashworth:

Working as a clinical psychologist, so they don't have any others in the country. It's just working with a really small team of full mental health nurses and one local psychiatrist. And we tried to cover the 83 Islands and 300,000 people

Anthony Hartcher:

Beautiful. So it's so nice to hear that people are out there volunteering their services, particularly giving to those communities that don't have access or easy access to the expertise that you have around clinical psychology. So just for the listeners sake, tell them how have you arrived at what you're doing today?

Damon Ashworth:

Okay, so recently, I'm finished writing a book, it's called deliberately better sleep. And I think that really was a combination of working in the sleep field since 2010. So I did my a clinical trial way back in 2010, on cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. So we did a full session program. And what we found is people that had been given antidepressants, and they still weren't improving, often it was because their sleep was still problematic. So we targeted this lead. And what we found is it did start to slowly improve. And then that led to improvements in their mood and anxiety and their stress and also their fatigue.

Anthony Hartcher:

Wow, fantastic. It's certainly an area that we spend, you know, a third of our life doing sleep. And you're the stats all the time that people are quite sleep deprived, and it's having a big impact on their livelihood in terms of what happens at work, you know, whether it be workplace accident, in terms of relationships, and so it has a massive impact on our life. And we're not really taught at school on how to get a good night's sleep. And so hence why you're on the show sharing with the listeners, what you've learned from your research in, you know, in terms of the CBTI and I'd really like to start with what have you found in terms of where people go wrong.

Damon Ashworth:

I think there's lots of information out there in terms of what people can do. And I think a lot of the times, people, once they start to have difficulties, they get really worried about it, they tried lots of different things, and they don't really feel like they're getting anywhere. So it can take a number of years before I'll say them for the first time. And what's interesting is even when they go to the doctors, a lot of the times doctors will give out sleeping pills. And we know that that's not a great long term solution either. So I feel like there's not heaps of information out there in terms of what are those great long term strategies. And that's really where our research came in and shows that once people are doing the right things that can improve pretty quickly.

Anthony Hartcher:

Wow. And hence the book you've published, right?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, exactly. So I've got a copy here. Yeah, it's just come out recently.

Anthony Hartcher:

So Deliberately Better Sleep. So in terms of what can you share with the listeners? Where can they start in terms of improving their sleep quality.

Damon Ashworth:

So I think if people are wanting to improve their sleep, potentially, the best thing is to find an expert if they can. So try to seek out somebody who does have a good awareness of what's going on, that might be a sleep physician, it might be a psychologist who's trained in CBTI, or in some countries that have behavioral sleep medicine experts, and they're going to really, hopefully give you that scientific backed evidence that says, These are the things that you can do that can make that positive difference in the long term.

Anthony Hartcher:

Okay, so in terms of where would they find these people? Well, Where could the listener find these people?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah. So if you look online, I'm sure you can find a link to a lot of sleep physicians. But essentially, if you do go to the doctor and say, I'd like to go and see a psychologist who works in that area, there's the APS find a psychologist service where people can look that up and look for people with sleep expertise. And there's lots of sleep positions out there as well. So I used to work at the Melbourne Sleep Disorder Center, but there are various sleep centers around Australia

Anthony Hartcher:

And in terms of how CBTI works, can you explain for the listeners that might not be familiar with all certainly that it's available? And then how does it effectively work? I can help them improve their sleep.

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, so CBTI is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. And it's really just looking at all of the helpful behavioral strategies that we can do, as well as ways of challenging our thinking around it, that can lead to sleep getting better over time. So, most CBTI programs will have four components. The first one is a psychoeducation component where you teach people around homeostatic pressure, or sleep drive around circadian rhythms, or our body clock around our arousal levels, and how to know if we're too stressed or not. And also few things around sleep hygiene, then often in session two people will start to go into what's called Sleep scheduling. So it's really looking at how much time people are spending in bed, whether or not they're going to bed at the right time for their body clock, and really trying to get into a nice consistent routine that will hopefully be sustainable for them. Also, try not to spend too much time in bed awake. The third component would be relaxation strategies. So different things that people can do to wind down before sleep to stay nice and calm when they're in bed is also manage their stress during the day. And then the last component would be the cognitive component. So if people are thinking unhelpfully, let's say, you know, someone might have a thought of, I need eight hours of sleep every night, and that's leading to a lot of anxiety. It's really around, okay, maybe if you have eight hours sleep on one night, you feel great. But is that really what you need in order to have an amazing day, the next day? Or could if you have, you know, six or seven hours, maybe it's still okay to get through that next day. So if we can start to reduce some of the worry around it, and start to have more realistic expectations that people do start to think in a more helpful way around it feel a bit less stressed, and then to stop sleeping up that

Anthony Hartcher:

You mentioned sleep pressure in that first stage of when they come and say CBTI? What is sleep pressure? And what can the listeners do to help build up their sleep pressure so that they, you know, help improve that onset of sleep?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, so sleep pressure is sometimes called homeostatic pressure essentially means is this part of our brain that doesn't like us to be awake forever. So the longer we've been awake for the more that that pressure will rise, I think it acts on adenosine in some way. But it's that sense of if you've been up for 30 hours, it's going to be a lot harder to stay awake than if you've only been up for say three or four. So ideally, we want that pressure to be nice and high each night, when we're going to bed, ideally, you know, it's been about 15 or 16 hours, it's probably going to be high enough, as long as we're not napping too much during the day. So if we nap a lot during the day, it's going to lower that pressure during the day and make it harder to go to sleep. But let's say somebody gets up at 7am, then we'd want that pressure to rise until it's about 15 or 16 hours. So definitely not going to bed before 10pm The next night, and maybe even waiting till 11. So waiting for that time is one thing, doing some exercise. So some things that are physically challenging during the day can help doing some things that are cognitively challenging can help with both of those, we don't want to don't want to do them too close to bedtime, but anywhere in during the day and not in that last two hours can be really helpful. And probably the last thing is minimizing caffeine. So if we don't have too much caffeine, if we try to stop it before 2pm, then it can mean that that sleep pressure can stay nice and high

Anthony Hartcher:

fantastic and really helpful tips there. You mentioned also the circadian rhythm, some listeners may be wondering what that is. So if you could please explain what the circadian rhythm is and how they can work that into their sleep routine?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, definitely circadian, I think is a Latin word for about a day. So it just means a lot of things in our body do operate on about a 24 hour cycle. So we know that cortisol tends to spike in the morning. And that just helps us get going and get energized for the day. We know that growth hormone does peak during the night, especially in the first part of the night. And that really helps our body recover and recharge. And we know that melatonin which is probably most important for sleep, it runs on a 24 hour cycle as well. And it starts to slowly increase in the early evening. And then it stays nice and high during the night to help us fall asleep and stay asleep. And so we want to try to have our circadian rhythms as consistent as possible. And one way we can do that is really by going to bed and waking up at similar times. So during the week, you're getting up at 6am. And then on the weekends you're sleeping until midday, it's probably going to cause what's called Social jetlag. And that it does push your body clock back a bit. And then it's going to be pretty tough to get to sleep at the time that you want to on Sunday night and to feel refreshed on Mondays. So I think a lot of the times when people say they hate Mondays, often it is that dyssynchrony Or things not being aligned between the weekend and the weekday. And then as the week goes on, they get back into the routine. And then on the weekend, it gets pushed back. So yeah, ideally, if you do sleep in a bit later on the weekend, maybe one potentially maximum two hours is good, but we don't want it to be too much more than that. So consistent time at the right time for your body clock is good. And also light exposure can help change it as well. So if anyone's ever been overseas, it can cause jetlag, which is essentially the body clock, the time that it wants you to go to bed and wake up is different to the time that you're in. And so if we get morning sunlight, you know 20 To 30 minutes, and we also minimize how much we're looking at bright screens or having bright lights in the last few hours before bed. It can help shift our body clock to what feels most natural for the times we're wanting to.

Anthony Hartcher:

So in terms of that minimizing blue blue light exposure or you know screen time it's around you said a few hours so it's somewhere between three two to three hours or

Damon Ashworth:

yeah I think it's about two. I don't definitely don't think it needs to be three.

Anthony Hartcher:

Yeah.

Damon Ashworth:

But if you notice that you're normally falling asleep at about 11, then the times that you'd want to be careful of not getting too much light, we'd be up to nine.

Anthony Hartcher:

Okay.

Damon Ashworth:

Now, there is some more recent research that suggests that getting some morning sunlight is probably more important than how much light we get at nighttime. Right, so Okay, sorry.

Anthony Hartcher:

Yeah, so getting out in the morning, essentially, and getting exposure to that morning light is really important.

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah. And if you can get 30 minutes of morning sunlight exposure, then how much you're on bright screens at night might not matter as much. So we don't want people to worry too much about

Anthony Hartcher:

Okay, it. But it's still really helpful, I think, to not spend too much time on screens before bed. So if people are looking at their phone all the time or on their computer all the time, it can keep them active in other ways, it can lead to that dopamine hit or that sense of you wanting more, and there's probably other things that we can do that can help reduce that arousal or help us relax before bed rather than just being on screen.

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Anthony Hartcher:

And did your research cover the chrono types? If you've you know the morning Lark or the night owl Did it look into the chrono types and whether that there's truth behind it, because I certainly myself, so I find I'm a morning Lark. And I know other people, my friends are night owls. Quite a bit. Yes. Is there any truth behind that?

Damon Ashworth:

Oh, definitely. Yeah, I think a lot of the research in terms of what circadian rhythms are is quite robust. So we know that it can be fairly consistent for people throughout their lives, I have a tendency to be more of the night owl. And I was definitely that way during my teens and 20s, which a lot of younger people can be. So it's important to try to find that right time for you. And if people aren't sure, there's a questionnaire called the morning sickness evening this questionnaire and that can really help identify that there are a few things that people can do in the lab as well. But it's just really getting that sense of let's imagine you were on holidays, for two weeks, you had no other restraints, work 8hr window would you think would be best for your body know when you're most likely to sleep as well as you'd like to

Anthony Hartcher:

and that morning eveningness survey is, is where would they find that? It's a link that you could share? And I can put it in the show notes?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, I think if you just Google search, you can find it. But I'm more than happy to share that link with you

Anthony Hartcher:

fantastic. So we'll put that link in the show notes. So thanks for sharing that. You also mentioned the sleep hygiene also plays an important part in terms of getting a good night's sleep. What is it that you found with sleep hygiene? What's sort of most important where should people focus their energy to improve their sleep hygiene?

Damon Ashworth:

Hmm. sleep hygiene is an interesting one. And that sometimes if you go to a psychologist who hasn't had any sleep training, they might just give them a handout that says, Here are the 19 things you can do. And what we know is that doesn't necessarily help improve someone's sleep. If they do some of the things that are making their sleep worse. And they put in the behavioral changes, it can make a big difference. But if people get 20 things that they're meant to do at once, it's hard to know exactly what to focus on, and what's going to make the biggest difference. So if I'm talking to people about sleep hygiene, I'll really do an assessment of how do they go in these factors, you know, are they trying to fall asleep with the lights on in their room and the window open? And that's what's waking them up? If so then obviously, light can be a factor. You know, if they're having 12 cups of coffee a day, then that could be a big factor too. So really trying to minimize how much caffeine they're having. That might be the thing in itself that fixes this, like we know that alcohol can be really negative for sleep quality. So if people are drinking too much or too late and trying to minimize that, I think sometimes no bed companies will tell you that all you need is a comfy bed. But if that was the case, then there wouldn't still be one in three people that have slept difficulties.

Anthony Hartcher:

So very true. And alcohol. You mentioned alcohol, how much is too much?

Damon Ashworth:

I've heard different things. But really, for most people, I don't think you should be having more than two standard drinks in one sitting. And I'd really just have a look at how do I feel on those days where I do drink versus days where I don't and sometimes people will find especially in the short term that if they drink alcohol, they might fall asleep a bit quicker. But generally I'd get them to focus on how do they feel the next day. Now they're having more awakenings in the morning. But how tired Do they feel? What is their mood? Like? how anxious are they because we know that alcohol can disrupt REM sleep in particular so people don't process their emotions as well and they're likely to feel worse the next day

Anthony Hartcher:

And did you research look at nutrition as to diet and how that implicates sleep will have have a potentially contributing factor in terms of poor quality sleep quality.

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, we did look into it. And I guess it doesn't have as much of an impact as is potentially what I'd like to say, I know that timing of eating can sometimes be more important than what we're eating. So in terms of overall health, obviously, the more healthy, the more unprocessed foods we can eat, the better. But in terms of sleep, if you have junk food, you might still sleep just as well, if you haven't been on one night, so I wouldn't worry too much in terms of what people are eating. But if you have a big meal, that's a 10, or 11pm, we do know that that's going to mean that your resting heart rate is going to be higher those first few hours, and you might not feel as refreshed the next

Anthony Hartcher:

And so what sort of times should people day. allow between their last meal and when they go to bed and want to fall asleep?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, I'd say if it's a light snack before bedtime, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. But ideally, two to three hours as well. So if I'm going to bed at say,

10:

30, or 11, I just tried to not eat too much after.

Anthony Hartcher:

Okay. Okay. And in terms of sleep, what did you research find around sleep? Is there a particular type of exercise is correlated to better sleep?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, I think with exercise, it's more around consistency in that if we can build up a good exercise routine over time, we know it can have really positive impacts on sleep over time. So if you're not sleeping, well, I wouldn't necessarily suggest going out and doing four hours today and absolutely wrecking yourself, because it may not guarantee you a great sleep tonight. But can I get into a good routine? So if I'm finding that I'm really sedentary, and I'm not doing much apart from going to work and coming home, then what have I introduced 30 minutes of exercise four to five times a week. And we know that if people do that consistently, then in two to three months, they're going to start sleeping deeper, and they're going to start feeling better, too.

Anthony Hartcher:

What about some of the sleep aids, people talk about blue light filtering glasses at night and wearing a sleep mask? There's obviously the wearable devices that help track your sleep, what did you find that was the most useful? Or is it really come down to the individual

Damon Ashworth:

I think part of it comes down to the individual. And some of it can be placebo as well. So if someone's doing something, and that gives them heaps of confidence, and they feeling like yes, I'm gonna sleep well, and then they do, I'd say, keep it up, you know, you don't necessarily have to challenge that. So I've tried blue light blocking glasses, and I think like any a little bit less than not, especially those blue wavelengths of light, it can help it sleep a bit. But like I was saying before, as long as people are getting some sunlight exercise, sorry, sunlight exposure in the mornings, there may be how much bright screen use they're doing isn't as important. So yeah, blue light blockers work for you go for it. But do I think that everybody needs to have that? Probably not. In terms of activity trackers, we know that it can give people a decent picture of how they sleeps going. And you know, if people are worried that they're not sleeping at all, I'd absolutely recommend getting an activity tracker, because it's probably going to show you that you're sleeping more than you think. However, if it's the opposite. If people don't feel like they wake up much during the night, then the activity trackers might show them they spend more more time awake than what they did. And that can lead to more anxiety and then more concern over sleep rather than making sleep better.

Anthony Hartcher:

And what about the mouth Tape, for example, taping the mouth? So that encourages nasal breathing? Had? Did you look at that? Or have you read anything about that?

Damon Ashworth:

No, I haven't looked into that. But I think that would be interesting. I know that there are certain things that people can do that help with snoring. I'm not sure how much evidence there is behind it in terms of what difference it makes, like I've even heard for people that they're more likely to have sleep apnea on their back or, you know, snore on their back, that they've taped a tennis ball or half a tennis ball into their pajamas. But again, a lot of these anecdotes rather than really solid evidence where they've done randomised controlled trials,

Anthony Hartcher:

And in terms of you mentioned before the relaxation before bed can can assist what what have you found in terms of the most effective for relaxation prior to bed or in the lead up to go into sleep,

Damon Ashworth:

if we're thinking in terms of which strategy is the most empirically supported, it would be called progressive muscle relaxation. So it's one way you tense different muscle groups, let's imagine your arms you know, squeeze it nice and tight. Do the big deep breath in through your nose into your stomach, then as you're breathing out to let go that tension, so if people do that, they start with their arms move to their head, neck, and shoulders, stomach, upper thighs, and then calves and feet, we know that that can lead to better sleep over time, there are other relaxation strategies that people can try. So just diaphragmatic breathing nice and slow in through the nose into the stomach, and then exhale all the air that can help but it doesn't have as much evidence behind it. And one that is really good for sleep onset insomnia. So people that find it hard to get to sleep at the start of the night. That's imagery or visualization. So getting people to imagine a nice, relaxing, peaceful place. Maybe it's their favorite beach and really walking through that and engaging all the senses that can lead to people falling asleep a lot quicker.

Anthony Hartcher:

And what have you found? I know, it's a personalized question, but what have you found most effective for yourself in terms of, you know, what you've studied and what you've put into practice? What's been most effective for you?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, so this probably shows that I'm a bit geeky when it comes to sleep science back in 2017. I did a bunch of experiments on myself where I try different things for a week or two and see what difference it made. And then I scored all of those out of 100. And there's a section in my book about it but essentially the two that I rated the highest, which was 85, out of 101 was stimulus control. So we're getting people to only go to bed when they feel sleepy if they can't fall asleep in about 15 or 20 minutes to get up and do something relaxing to try to only use a bed and bedroom for sleep and sex and to get up at the same time every morning. So you know, if they get up during the night, once they sleep, you go back to bed, but keep repeating that process if they're spending too long in bed awake. So that was one and the other one that was 85 was just doing things to wind down for sleep and really making sure that you're switching off from what

Anthony Hartcher:

And what worked best for you was at the muscle relaxation technique that you shared, or was it the diaphragmatic breathing? What's the best relaxation technique that you found most effective?

Damon Ashworth:

For me, the one that I turned to the most, I'd say would probably just be the breathing. So if I keep my breath nice and slow, if I'm focusing on pushing all the air out, then in bed, I find that quite helpful. progressive muscle relaxation is more about helping to wind down before bed and reducing some of that physical tension if I haven't,

Anthony Hartcher:

What about things like magnesium bars before bed? Or you know, like burning some lavender incense or, you know, the essential oils? What have you found with those have they very effective?

Damon Ashworth:

I did look at lavender. And I think there's a little bit of evidence in it. But I think I gave that a score of 68 out of 100. Not too tough to try. But it doesn't have heaps of science behind it and might help someone relax. And if it does go for it. But I don't think it's going to be the answer for everybody.

Anthony Hartcher:

Okay, okay. And what about magnesium, but Epsom salt baths? Yes, in the muscles is that

Damon Ashworth:

it could be I've heard with magnesium that can be helpful for people, if they have restless legs, if they find that they need to move around a lot, or they feel restless. Especially if magnesium is low, then I'd imagine it'd be great. If people do find that they're feeling quite physically tensile sore as well. I've heard it can help as well. I haven't seen too many studies that show the benefits that it has on sleep. But I'd imagine it's more so for those people that really feel that they're not feeling great. And the magnesium helps them to feel better with that

Anthony Hartcher:

And in terms of internal supplementation. Did you try any in terms of that personal experimentation? Like is there particular supplements that you would recommend that would generally help people or not?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, I think in America, in particular, people use magnesium, sorry, melatonin a lot. And so you can buy it over the counter there in the pharmacy, and there's million sold, I think if you have a delayed buddy clock, and you normally a night owl and you go to sleep quite late and you want to sleep earlier than taking melatonin and a few hours before bed can be helpful. So if you're under 55, in Australia, you can get a prescription from your GP, if you have insomnia. And that's more of an issue rather than the timing, then it's less helpful. So there are things that people can take, but there's not too many that I'd recommend if people aren't taking it now, I'd really look at other strategies that they can apply first.

Anthony Hartcher:

So more than lifestyle sort of strategies that you mentioned and talked about yeah

Damon Ashworth:

Exactly.

Anthony Hartcher:

And in terms of caffeine, how much time so we talked about alcohol, how much alcohol you know, you've recommended maximum or two standard drinks in terms of caffeine, how much time should you allow before bed in terms of your last cup of coffee, or last cup of tea or any caffeine oriented drink

Damon Ashworth:

With caffeine, my understanding is that has a half life of about four and a half hours. So that means in nine hours, you're still gonna have a quarter of it in your system. So it might not feel like it's doing too much. But it can, if you have a strong cup of coffee and might have 200 milligrams of caffeine, that means nine hours of nine hours later, you'll still have 50 milligrams, so it might make your sleep a little bit of a worse quality and your stress levels a bit higher. So for most of the time, I'd say you know, try not to worry about it too much. But if you can to minimize how much you have after 2pm. Know, if you have a little bit of tea or a little bit of chocolate, it's probably not going to wreck everybody sleep. But for people that are especially sensitive to it to really keep it to the morning or not too much after two would be the best.

Anthony Hartcher:

So just in closing this discussion, and it's been very helpful and useful in terms of understanding what the latest sciences and you know, where people can get the biggest wins, the quickest wins, what would be your closing like top three tips in terms of where should people should focus their energy and time?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, so probably, I guess the three questions I'd want people to ask is, firstly, is this like pressure high enough when they go into bed? Now? If it's not, what are a few things that you can do to improve it? So it could be timing could be exercise could be reducing naps, reducing caffeine? Second question would be are they going to bed at the right time for their body? Now if it's in line with the circadian rhythms and they find it pretty easy to fall asleep and wake up when they want to? Then I just keep working on that consistency. If they need to bring their body clock forward, I'd focus on that morning sunlight and trying to minimize that light exposure at night. And then the last question would be around is my arousal level low enough when I go to bed. So if I've got that sense of chronic stress and it's a bit higher than I want it to be really focusing on trying to do things to wind down before bed and if you're in bed to find a really nice distraction, something that you can keep your mind on that if you then start Don't worry about things that you can bring your attention back to

Anthony Hartcher:

Just like that place that you'd love to be at the beach, as you said that visualization exercise around that place of that makes you feel relaxed.

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah. And some people would say that they don't want to have any technology in the room. But some people do like listening to relaxing melodies or podcasts or things like that. And if that works is a distraction that helps you to feel relaxed and helps you to fall off to sleep, then I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing.

Anthony Hartcher:

What about the just this kind of why this is you mentioned, that was the alarm clock. So what have you found around the alarm clock?

Damon Ashworth:

Yeah, I think to be able to wake up at a similar time each day can be really helpful. So for people that are more of a night owl as well, I think it might actually be important for them to have an alarm clock. As much as it'd be nice to feel like we can wake up naturally every day. And that might lead to us feeling nice and refreshed. If people don't have an alarm clock, sometimes they can sleep in till 9, 10 11, midday, and then that's going to throw out this sleep cycle. So for me, I do set mine at seven most days. And maybe it'll mean I'm a little bit tired when I wake up, but just wait a few hours and then see how you feel rather than judge asleep straightaway.

Anthony Hartcher:

Fantastic. Really appreciate the helpful tips that you've shared with the listeners. Now how can the listeners best connect with you? Where can they find this book? Please share?

Damon Ashworth:

Yep, so my website will probably be the best place. It's https://damonashworthpsychology.com/ and on that it's going to link to the book it's going to link to a sleep course that I've done on Udemy. In terms of the book, it can be purchased booktopia.com.au today, and you can get either the paperback or an ebook.

Anthony Hartcher:

What about an audio book?

Damon Ashworth:

I haven't done an audiobook yet but it was popular enough we might do that in the future.

Anthony Hartcher:

Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for putting aside your time Damon and sharing this knowledge with listeners. I really appreciate it and to the listeners. Everything that Damon mentioned will be in the show notes in terms of the links where you can find them and can go straight to his website and get the book from there or purchase the sleep course. And thank you so much for tuning in to another insightful episode of me&my health up. I really appreciate you listening and learning and growing with me and continue this journey together. So thank you

Damon Ashworth:

No worries, thanks so much.

Anthony Hartcher:

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Introduction to today’s episode.
Where are you from and what are you doing?
What have you found in terms of where people go wrong with sleep?
What is sleep pressure and what can the listeners do to help build it?
Circadian rhythms and circadian rhythm.
(Cont.) Circadian rhythms and circadian rhythm.
Sleep hygiene plays an important part in getting a good night's sleep.
Exercise and sleep
What is the most effective strategy for sleep onset insomnia?
The best relaxation techniques for insomnia.
What about the alarm clock? Is it important?