Are you getting enough sleep? Whether you’re five or 55, recent research indicates that you might not be. On average, Canadians are getting one hour less of sleep than they were over a decade ago, no matter their age. In addition, nearly one-third of kids aged 10-13 and over one-quarter of those 14-17 are sleep deprived. Over the age of 18? One-third of Canadians are sleep deprived.
So what can you do to ensure you get a refreshing night’s sleep? Researcher Kate Storey shares helpful tips so you don’t have to count sheep.
1. Be consistent in your bed time and wake time.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps set your body’s internal clock. This will assist you in getting the optimal quantity and quality of sleep.
2. You sleep what you eat (or drink).
Storey says what you eat and drink throughout the day can impact how you sleep at night. “There’s a lot of information about nutrition and its effects on sleep,” she says. “A good place to start is by limiting your caffeine intake—especially during the late afternoon/evening.”
Limit your caffeine intake to no more than three eight-ounce cups of coffee per day, so you aren’t left counting sheep. Be sure to also limit your fluids in the evening, or you may be kept awake by trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
Looking for a midnight snack? It’s important not to go to bed hungry, as a rumbly tummy can keep you up at night. With that said, it’s just as important to choose the right foods to fill up on. Try to avoid eating rich, heavy foods right before bedtime.
3. Expose yourself to bright light in the morning.
Good morning, sunshine! Sunlight helps your biological clock reset itself every day. Exposing yourself to more sunlight in the morning and throughout the day helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle, making you less tired throughout the day.
4. Make sure your bedroom is sleep friendly.
Small changes to your bedroom environment can equal big changes for sleep. “Consider your bedroom’s temperature, lighting and noise, and comfortable bedding, for better sleep,” Storey says.
For a better night’s sleep, keep your room dark and cool (around 18 degrees celsius), and try to eliminate outside noises.
Your bedroom should be reserved for sleeping and sex—TVs, phones and computers should be left at the door.
Finally, as sad as it might make Spot to sleep on the floor, sleeping with your pets can disturb your sleep, so find a designated area for them to sleep outside of the bedroom.
5. Develop a relaxing night routine
It’s important to develop some bedtime rituals to let your body and mind know it’s time to turn off for the night. Some examples are: take a warm bath, read a book, take some time to meditate to clear your mind, do some light stretches, or listen to soft music to finish your day.
“Kids especially benefit from a relaxing bedtime routine,” Storey says. “But, getting electronic devices out of the bedroom and reading a book before bed can improve anyone’s sleep, regardless of age.”
6. Exercise regularly during the day
Get moving! Regular exercise improves many different aspects of health. As little as 10 minutes of regular exercise a day—think walking around your neighbourhood—can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep.
Storey acknowledges that, if you’re sleep deprived, you likely won’t have energy to be physically active. “But if you make the effort to incorporate physical activity into your day, you may sleep better.”
Start incorporating small increments of regular physical activity into your daily routine, and it will begin to pay off.
National Sleep Foundation