Sleep Hygiene

Sleep.  We all wish there were more hours in the day to get everything done, and still get enough of that deep, restful, restorative sleep!  With busy lives and many things on the go at all times, it can be hard to wind down at the end of the day, or even get to bed at a time that we feel is appropriate.

What are the down sides of not getting enough sleep?

Lack of sleep can make it hard for us to concentrate, be productive at work, can affect our driving and even our social life.  Studies have also shown that fatigue can lead to changes in our food take because of the effect that lack of sleep can have on our hormones that regulate hunger!  Often we crave more carbohydrate rich foods, or have an increased appetite when our bodies don’t get enough rest–often leading to overeating or poor food choices.  For those who are chronically sleep deprived, some studies have shown that it may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

How much sleep do we need?

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that adults aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

So, then what can we do to help maximize our sleep quality and quantity??

Try to maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule–aim to hit the sack and wake up around the same times every day to get your body into a pattern.

Exercise regularly–it can help you feel more energized during the day, but also help you sleep at night. Try not to exercise 2-4 hours before going to bed.

Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol and/or nicotine–these stimulants can keep you up and/or disturb your sleep.  Caffeine can last in your body up to 8 hours, so try to avoid having caffeinated coffees, teas, pop (colas or Mountain Dew) or energy drinks in the afternoon or evening hours.

Have a regular sleep routine–find ways to relax and shut your mind off before bed.  Maybe it’s reading, or taking a bath, or doing some meditation or relaxed yoga.  Whatever works for you, stick to it and your body will learn to prepare for sleep.

Consider where you are sleeping–a quiet, cooler, darker room can help you sleep.  Also try to remove any distractions like computers, TVs or other electronics.  Keep your bedroom as a relaxed retreat that you can go to unwind at the end of the day!

Try not to eat a heavy meal too close to bed time or drink large amounts of fluids within 2 hours of going to sleep.  

 

As I am writing this, I am actually feeling quite sleepy after being out late last night curling and having to be up early for an appointment!  So I certainly need to work on a few of the above!   I hope the tiredness hasn’t caused too many mistakes in this post 🙂

 

Resources:

University Health Network Sleep Hygiene Handout

What are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?

University of Maryland Medical Centre: Sleep Hygiene

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