Sleep experts are raising awareness of the importance of quality sleep to maintaining good mental health and well-being, at a time when stress and anxiety levels are high across the state.
Australian sleep business A.H Beard and mental health support service Beyond Blue have partnered to share tips on developing good sleep habits in response to rising health concerns.
Ballarat naturopath and women's health coach Annabel Mason said she had seen many people in Ballarat experience higher anxiety that created sleep issues and a cycle of poor health.
"Sleep is one of the foundational aspects of our health and well-being," she said.
"I am hearing from a lot of people that anxiety levels are much higher than usual and as a result they are not necessarily sleeping well because they are lying awake thinking or worrying.
"Then they are functioning at sub par levels the next day, seeing the news reports and things are getting to them a lot more.
"It is a vicious cycle."
Mental health service Beyond Blue says calls to the service have increased between 40 and 60 per cent since COVID-19 hit.
Sleep is one of the foundational aspects of our health and well-being.Annabel Mason, Blossom Wellbeing
Contacts to the organisation about anxiety spiked 50 per cent and contacts about depression doubled in July as Victoria introduced stage three restrictions in some locations.
In response, A.H Beard is funding Beyond Blue to facilitate an additional 2000 contacts between people seeking support and mental health professionals and raising awareness about the importance of sleep.
Beyond Blue lead clinical advisor Dr Grant Blashki said people were worried about infection, the changes to their home lives, about work and money.
But he encouraged people to focus on the things they could control, like introducing healthy lifestyle habits, rather than the things they currently had no control over in life.
"Try to be your best self," he said.
Sleep expert Dr Carmel Harrington, Dr Blashki and Ms Mason have shared tips with The Courier to help people get a better night's sleep.
- Get up at the same time every day
- Exercise for at least 20 miutes per day
- Don't have caffeine after midday
- No big meals within three hours of bedtime
- Ensure the bedroom environment is quiet, cool, dark, has no technology, comfortable bedding
- If you are not asleep within about 30 minutes get up, sit in a dimly-lit room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy
Ms Mason suggests setting a time at least an hour before bed to create a wind down routine, that should include switching off technology and news to focus relaxing activities. This can include having a shower or bath, a cup of tea, reading, meditation, breathing exercises or using a mindfulness app.
"We all know kids can't switch off naturally straight away and go to sleep, so we create a bed time or an evening routine for them. That is really helpful for adults as well," she said.
Ms Mason said maintaining a healthy diet, hydration and limiting alcohol intake could also help improve sleep. Dr Blashki suggested people get a safe exposure to sunshine throughout the day and write down any worries for bed time.
Four out of 10 Australians were not getting the recommended eight to 10 hours of quality sleep prior to COVID-19. This statistic has undoubtedly increased.
Beyond Blue's free Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is available 24/7 at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au or by calling 1800 512 348.
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.