Consistently getting a good night’s sleep makes all of our lives a little bit better. But the National Sleep Foundation reports that nearly half of all Americans suffer from occasional insomnia. Insomnia is defined broadly as difficulty achieving or maintaining sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for optimal performance at the workplace. Lack of sleep can leave us feeling grouchy and slower to react and process information. At work this can result in reduced efficiency, productivity, and increased errors and accidents. WebMD also reports that chronic sleep loss can lead to cardiac problems, such as high blood pressure and heart attack, a decreased sex drive, weight gain, impaired judgement and premature aging.
Insomnia can be brought on by many health factors and can be associated with stress, anxiety, depression, drug prescriptions and bad sleep habits.
For many, lack of sleep has become a new normal of just getting by. Although it may seem easiest to take medication to ensure a good night’s rest, there are many behavioural changes that can be taken to ensure a full eight hours of sleep.
Tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Have a set Bedtime: Sticking to a set schedule will get you body accustom to a regimented sleep cycle. It is also important to wake up each day at the same time as well. To maintain a good sleep pattern, this unfortunately means sticking to bedtimes and wakeup routines during weekends. Letting go of weekend sleep-ins may be painful at first, but your quality of ZZZs will make it worth while.
- Take 20 minute naps or less: If you become tired while first implementing a scheduled sleep cycle, make up your sleep in small naps rather than sleeping in. Sleeping for 20 minutes or less ensures that you will not fall into a deep sleep which can affect your sleeping patterns during the night.
- Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol before bed: Coffee, tea, chocolate and some allergy and cold medications contain caffeine which is a stimulant known for disrupting sleep habits. Everyone has different caffeine sensitivities, so a general guide is to avoid caffeine 4 – 8 hours before bed. Meanwhile alcohol is not recommend before bed either because (despite making you feel drowsy) it can affect your sleep cycle and potentially wake you in the middle of the night.
- Turn Off All Screens: This may be a tough one for many people to hear, but devices like TVs, iPads, computers and cell phones all agitate the body and mind before bed. Turning off all screens in the 20 – 40 minutes before sleep in favour of reading allows your eyes adjust to less light, regulates your breathing which induces a natural, drowsy feeling, and creates a calm bedroom environment optimal for sleep.
- Keep Work Out of the Bedroom: As suggested with removing all screens, it’s important to keep work and other activities out of the bedroom. Creating a relaxing space free of mentally stimulating activities will help keep these preoccupations from your mind as you drift off to sleep.
- Exercise: This one is kind of like saying “eat your vegetables” but exercise has a direct relationship to quality of sleep. When exercising your body uses sleep to repair muscles and allows for a deeper, regulated sleep. Twenty minutes a day will improve your sleep, but be sure to exercise eight hours before bed otherwise you may be too wound up to go to sleep on time.
For more on Health and Wellness, check out Skilven Publications’ monthly newsletter, Wellness Zone.