World Sleep Day will take place on March 15th. It’s an annual event organized by the World Sleep Day Committee and it’s basically a celebration of sleep and how we can get better at it.
Sleep deprivation and disorders are becoming a worldwide problem, which is why an annual sleep survey digs into the impact sleep (or lack thereof) has on our lives and how to improve sleep quality. In total, 11,006 people participated in this year’s survey and it was the first year where Canada was included in one of the 12 countries surveyed.
One of the main takeaways from the survey was that while awareness of an individual’s sleep health is rising, a good night’s sleep is still hard to maintain. Three-quarters of people around the world experience at least one of the five conditions listed below.
This can be pretty common. There are two types of insomnia: acute (for a short period of time you struggle with sleep and then, well, you don’t) and chronic (a loss of sleep for months or even years that is now affecting overall health and quality of life).
Things to try
- Establish a consistent sleep pattern. It’s easier for us to fall and stay asleep when we’re being consistent.
- Protect the amount of sleep that you need. Adults typically need seven to eight hours of consolidated restorative sleep every night. When we don’t meet our sleep needs on a regular basis, we accumulate a “sleep debt”. Determine what time you wake up and base your bedtime on that.
- Turn off tech and keep it out of the bedroom. Being in front of bright screens turns the sleep switch off in your brain and even though you’re sleeping, your brain still thinks it should be awake. You’re not going to get a proper restorative sleep.
It could be your partner’s snoring that’s keeping you up, but it’s important to make sure there aren’t any health issues going on (like sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder in adults where sleep is interrupted by pauses in breath).
Things to try
If you’re sleeping throughout the night but are waking up tired with a constant dry mouth or headache and showing signs of extreme daytime sleepiness, it may be worth having a conversation with your doctor, who would likely refer you to have a sleep study done. People with sleep apnea often don’t realize they have it.
Shift work can take a serious toll on your body and brain. When we sleep against our circadian rhythms, it’s difficult to achieve deep sleep and even though you are sleeping you may still be accumulating a sleep debt. Major problems that are common with shift workers include sleep disturbances, excessive sleepiness, insomnia, difficulties with relationships and moodiness.
Things to try
Sleepiness in the workplace can lead to poor concentration, absenteeism, accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. Workplace sleep support and education is important so that both the employer and employee are better educated on appropriate steps to take to ensure proper corporate sleep health.
Worry and stress
We’ve all been there. It’s hard to fall asleep when we’ve got a million things running through our minds.
Things to try
- Set your alarm and turn your clock around or hide it. If you know the alarm is set, you don’t need to know what time it is.
- Practice mindful breathing and relaxing activities to try and quiet your mind.
- Have a personal pause throughout the day where you allow your mind to shift to your worry’s or your to-do list. Write it down, if you have to. This will help fight off distractions.
- Keep a worry journal on your bedside table where you can jot down your worries, stresses and to-do lists that might be keeping you up at night.
It’s important to have a conducive environment for sleep. This means the room should be quiet, dark, and cool. It should also be clear of clutter. Associating your bedroom and your bed for sleep will help you reestablish proper sleep hygiene which will lead to better sleep.
Watch the video clip above for more information.