Trying to learn something new? Trying to make that personal best at the gym? Try sleeping on it. Nutrition and fitness lifestyle are only two of the major pillars when it comes to living a completely healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation could be holding you back. According to a Sleep in America poll, sleep is ranked lower as a priority in daily life than fitness and nutrition (35%), work (27%), and hobbies and interests (17%). At just 10%, sleep ranked slightly higher than social life at 9%. It’s pretty interesting to see that the majority of us don’t look at sleep as an important, productive part of the day.
The research is overwhelming, the consequences of sleep deprivation can be life threatening and can cause a number of health issues from cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and many injuries due to lack of sleep. According to Statistics Canada, short sleep duration and poor sleep quality are prevalent among Canadian adults between the ages of 18-79.
Our society has become so driven to succeed and get ahead in life that we often forget to take care of the important aspects such as self-care and most importantly sleep. Think about it, we should be spending at least 8 hours sleeping which is one third of our life. If we could rearrange our priorities and place sleep as a higher priority than work, would that make a difference in our productivity? I would definitely say I agree with the statement.
Let’s face it! We now live in a world full of demands and bright screens. It may not seem easy to shut off at the end of the day, so let’s look at a few tips to help improve sleep efficiency:
- Try and stick to a sleep schedule- Creating a consistent sleep time allows the body to adjust each night to the sleep-wake cycle.
- Create a pre-bedtime ritual- Do something relaxing before bed such as taking a bath or reading a book.
- Don’t stress about not falling asleep right away- If you are finding it hard to fall asleep, try and leave the room or do something relaxing and come back and try it again. Repeat as necessary.
- Create a restful environment- Keep a cooler temperature in the room, make sure your mattress is comfortable, ensure that you also have a dark room to sleep (no lights of any kind, especially phones, TVs, or laptops). Minimize sound (if you live somewhere with lots of traffic, consider earplugs.
- Write down things that are weighing on your mind- Stress happens, but if not dealt with can lead to anxiety which can result in restless night. Keep a note pad by your bed and write down anything that may be on your mind, try to create a stress-free sleep environment.
- Include physical activity into your schedule-As mentioned above priorities such as fitness and nutrition are looked at as priority; however, a lack of sleep can cause a lack of activity.
As a full- time student, working a full-time job and balancing home life this has been extremely eye opening for me. I have many anxious nights thinking about a paper that is due soon, a work conflict, or just a way I could have made the day better. Trying to balance life is hard and getting a good night’s sleep can at times be even harder. Following these steps have helped me
By Alan McNally