Do you wake up in the morning without feeling well rested?
Do you crave caffeine by mid-afternoon because of sleepiness and fatigue?
Do you take advantage of the weekends to catch up on poor sleeping patterns during the week?
These are all signs of not getting enough sleep. Canadian families are busy, and may be overlooking the importance of proper sleep habits for overall health. Sleep allows the body to rest and recharge for the next day. A lack of sleep can cause drowsiness, decreased memory, reduced concentration, and impaired physical performance. Drivers lacking in sleep put themselves and others at increased risk for car accidents.
In addition, not getting enough sleep has been linked to several mental health disorders including depression and anxiety disorders. Sleep research is expanding and has become an area of interest amongst health researchers. There is increasing evidence linking the importance of sleep to mental and physical wellness.
Getting the proper amount of sleep, with at least 7 – 8 hours per night is recommended for adults. Children and adolescents need more sleep for proper growth and development, and pregnant women are also advised to get more sleep. If you are questioning your need for sleep contact your heath-care provider for professional advice.
Here are five tips to ensure a good night’s rest:
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. This helps to maintain proper circadian rhythms (the body’s internal clock) and adjusts your body to its natural sleep cycle.
- Stop drinking caffeine after 4:00 pm or at least six hours before going to bed. Having too much caffeine in the afternoon can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep at night.
- Exercise regularly. Daily exercise of 30 – 60 minutes can help you sleep better at night. Try not to exercise too close to bed time, as you may find yourself too energized to fall asleep. Aim to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine at least 5 – 6 hours before bedtime.
- Relax before bedtime. Take a warm bath, read a book, or meditate to prepare your mind and body for sleep.
- Don’t lie in bed awake. If you are having difficulty sleeping, get out of bed and do something else until you feel tired. Lying in bed awake can cause excessive worry and insomnia.
If you are still having difficulties getting to sleep after trying these tips, speak to your health-care provider.
Sleep is extremely important to overall health; our day to day rituals depend on a proper night’s rest. Make sleep a priority in your life. Remember the power of 8 hours is the key to health, happiness and mental well-being!
For more information, visit: The Canadian Sleep Society or The Canadian Mental Health Association.
** This article won 1st place at the Ontario Home Economics Media Release Competition in 2012.. I have immense gratitude! **