A good night's sleep is vital to overall well-being. It’s as critical as eating well and exercising regularly. However, 1 in 3 adults aged 35-64 aren’t getting enough sleep and as a result, have trouble staying awake during the day.
In fact, more than 25% of Canadian adults get less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
- Insufficient sleep can be associated with increased sedentary time, chronic stress, and poor mental health
- Lack of sleep or disrupted sleep can leave us feeling drained during the day, more easily agitated or anxious
- Poor sleep can affect memory and mood
Why it’s important to get enough sleep every night:
Getting adequate sleep:
- Has a direct correlation to memory, mood, and social interactions
- Can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Helps enable proper glucose metabolism and decreases risk for type 2 diabetes
- Has been linked to helping to manage depression, inflammation, and weight gain
- Improves immune function, concentration, and productivity
- Can maximize performance and impact concentration
Five habits for good sleep hygiene:
1. Avoid screen time 2 hours before bed
Blue light-generating devices can lead to interrupted REM cycle and trick our brains into thinking we’re not tired. This can increase the time it takes to fall asleep and reduce the quality of sleep.
Consider using blue light-blocking glasses, turning off your phone, tablet, or TV 2 hours before bed, or keeping your devices in another room. This will give your brain time to relax and get ready for sleep.
2. Create a bedtime routine
Create a nightly routine that includes reading, a warm bath or other relaxing activities and try to stick with it. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help improve sleep quality and overall health. By training your body and brain to expect sleep at a certain time each day, including weekends, you’ll be able to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more energized.
3. Avoid caffeine and large meals late in the day
Caffeine increases our heart rate and blood pressure. While this can be helpful when we need to focus, it can prevent us from having a restful night’s sleep. Similarly, when we eat large amount of food, our heart rate and blood sugar level spikes as we digest, giving us more energy. If you go to bed immediately following a meal, your body will have a harder time digesting the food which can lead to discomfort, bloating, and stomach pain making it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
4. Incorporate physical activity into your day
Exercising and expending energy allows our bodies to fall asleep more easily, but it’s important to plan when you’re going to exercise. Keep high-impact exercises, like weightlifting or running for earlier in the day. In the evening, more relaxing activities, such as yin yoga can help activate the sympathetic nervous system which can help us fall asleep quicker and get a more restful sleep.
5. Create a peaceful sleep environment
Creating a relaxing and inviting sleep environment reminds your brain that when you are in your room, it’s time to sleep. Manage the light in your room as any amount of light can inhibit the secretion of melatonin. Darkness sends a message to your mind that it’s time to sleep.
Most people find it difficult to sleep when the temperature of the room they’re sleeping in isn’t quite right. Most people sleep better when their environment is slightly cool. Make sure the room is the right temperature for you.
Finally, your bed should be comfortable and inviting. A good mattress and pillow, breathable sheets, and a duvet that has some weight is recommended for optimal sleep.
Good sleep = good health:
Scheduling your daily activities and making choices on how you spend your evenings will help improve your sleep quality. Sleep is highly personalized and different for everyone and making just a few adjustments to your routine can improve your sleep and your health.
Written by Judy Plotkin, VP Health Solutions People Corporation