Canada is the third most sleep-deprived country in the world. According to a study by the Rand Corporation of sleep habits in the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Germany, and Canada, about 25% of Canadians get less than seven hours of sleep per night.
We all suffer from a sleepless nights here and there. And we’re irritable, overtired, and fuzzy-headed the next day as a result. But a chronic, consistent lack of sleep has been linked to:
- Weight gain
- Mental health issues
- Heart disease and diabetes
- A poor immune system
- Fertility problems
So, what should we be doing about it? According to most experts, the best way to restore healthy sleep patterns, and get consistent, quality, sleep-filled nights, is to try some of the techniques below:
- Exercise! Vigorous, daily exercise has been linked to better quality sleep at night. Even light exercise, for those who haven’t worked out in a while will do
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine or heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol is a depressant, but it will disrupt quality, deep sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake. Heavy meals can make it hard to fall asleep – your body is hard at work digesting
- Create a routine, which includes putting your phone away. Reading a book, taking a bath, and putting your phone away for at least a half an hour before bedtime has been linked to better sleep. Removing anything exciting or stimulating from your bedroom will also help (that includes the TV)
- Create a sleep schedule, and stick to it consistently (even on weekends). It will get your body used to sleeping for how long you need to feel rested
- Your room should be kept cool, dark, quiet, and reserved only for bedroom activities. Associating your bedroom with working, watching TV, or other activities can make it harder for your brain to make the switch between those activities and sleep
I know for me, banning TV from the bedroom, getting enough exercise, and trying to (mostly) stick to a consistent sleep schedule has helped me get more quality sleep. Am I getting that elusive eight hours every night? Not yet, but it’s a goal that, for my health, I take seriously.