Do you feel like you don’t get enough sleep? You’re not alone.
In fact according to the Canadian Sleep Review 2016, 59% of Canadians believe they are not getting as much sleep as they would like.
Indeed, a staggering 74% of Canadians questioned by the study claimed to be getting less than seven hours of shut eye a night, and a worrying 8% were getting less than five hours.
According to the study, even when we do manage to get to bed, 67% of us wish we could get better quality sleep.
So it’s perhaps no surprise then to find that 36% of Canadians would describe a good night’s sleep as a “rare luxury.”
Stress (26%), insomnia (18%) and a non-conducive sleep environment (11%) are seen as the top three factors behind our lack of quality bed time according to the study, which also points to our obsession with smartphones and an “always on” culture.
“Many factors that impede sleep are consequences of modern living, such as being ‘ultra connected’ with excessive exposure to screens, long commutes and working more than one job,” the study states.
“In certain situations, work environments may champion sleep deprivation, and this is potentially serious to health, safety and performance.”
The big question for most of us then, is how can we get better sleep? Some of the advice served up by the 2016 Sleep Survey includes:
1. Prioritize getting a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep is as critical to healthy living as good nutrition and exercise, playing a pivotal role in promoting mental and physical health, in some cases possibly protecting against development of chronic health issues. For adults, between seven and eight hours are normally recommended, depending on age, with more for children. Look after yourself first.
2. Become your own sleep expert. Get to know yourself, be aware of when and how you get the best sleep and make it part of your life – make your own sleep style work for you. Regular exercise is beneficial for many, as are commonly held beliefs such as avoiding caffeine before bed and limiting smoking and alcohol. Limit the use of medications as sleep aids.
3. Establish sleep routines including bed time and rise time. A regular rise time is just as important, or even more so, as the same bed time every night, helping to set our circadian rhythm. Getting outside and exposing ourselves to direct sunlight can also help set and sustain our circadian rhythm. Have a relaxing routine before bedtime that is conducive to sleep. Also, get out of bed when you can’t sleep.
4. Limit exposure to screens, especially for children and teens. Round the clock use of smartphones is impacting sleep, and so parents should continue their diligence on ensuring good sleep through the teen years.
5. Do not put too much pressure on yourself regarding sleep. While sleep is important, do not stress about it or fixate on a specific amount of sleep. Sleep is not something you can force and so you need to learn to relax to allow sleep to happen. Take comfort in that while you might not be getting quite enough, you are doing what you can.
6. Reach out and seek help if needed. When lack of sleep is causing distress and interfering with daily functioning, additional help should be sought from your family doctor or a psychologist, and sometimes referral to a sleep clinic is called for.