July 24 is a day when you should pause and think about what you are doing to stay healthy, prevent illness, or cope with a condition. This year the focus is on feeling good 7/24 – seven days a week, 24 hours a day, so this week we will review some evidence based things that you can do to feel good every day – Today’s Topic – 5 Tips for Improved Sleep.
In our Healthy Worker Survey, we asked you how many hours of sleep you were getting each night, and only 20% of survey participants told us there were getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep for adults aged 18-64. A lack of sleep can leave many of us feeling fatigued because we aren’t experiencing good quality sleep, so we asked our participants to describe their level of fatigue. 32% of our survey participants indicated that they felt fatigued or very fatigued and 46% felt moderately fatigued.
Sleep is vital to our overall health and wellbeing. Researchers have found that adults getting less than six hours of sleep per night were more likely to have a premature death. Also, those who slept fewer than 4.5 hours or more than 8.5 hours had a higher body mass index (BMI). Lack of sleep can also contribute to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease high blood pressure, poor moods and low sex drive.
5 Tips for Improved Sleep
Having good sleep hygiene, or engaging in practices that improve your sleep quality, is key to improving your overall health. Here are some ways in which you can improve your sleep hygiene:
1. Set and stick to a sleep schedule.
Going to sleep and waking up at a set time improves your sleep quality and supports your circadian rhythm. You should do this every day – even on weekends and days off. The benefits of this can be reinforced by also having a bedtime ritual that you follow each day.
2. Limit caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and TV and other electronic devices before bed.
All of these things interfere with your ability to sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol four hours before sleeping, and electronic devices should be turned off for 30 minutes before bed time.
3. Make your bedroom comfortable and inviting.
Create a comfortable environment that is cool, quiet and relaxing, and stay focused on using the bedroom for two purposes – sleep and sex. If you do this, your body will make a connection between your bedroom and relaxation and sleep. It is better to keep the room cool and have extra blankets then to have a room that is too warm. Also, curtains that block out the light can be an essential tool for your sleep hygiene. Avoid doing work, paying bills, eating or watching TV in your bed.
4. Get some exercise and eat healthy.
Eating healthy meals and getting a little bit of exercise each day before 2 p.m. can help you get a good night’s sleep.
5. Can’t fall asleep – get up and try again later.
If possible go to sleep when you are tired. If you find that you are still awake 20 minutes after you go to bed, it is recommended that you get up and do something else for a while, but don’t watch TV, or go on your computer. You can try meditating, listening to soothing music or even just sitting quietly in a dimly lit room. If your mind is racing and reviewing the never-ending to-do list, it may help to write out a list of things that are on your mind so that you can turn your focus to sleeping.
To learn more about fatigue and its impact on work, please visit our website at pshsa.ca/fatigue.
References and Resources