Most of us can relate to feeling sleep deprived, groggy and endlessly tired as we maneuver through the workday. We resort to caffeine, mid-day naps and sugary carbohydrates to get us through our daily tasks until it’s time to get back into bed for the night.
Did you know that fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night for two consecutive weeks is an equivalent feeling to pulling an all-nighter? Furthermore, this level of sleep deprivation is equivalent to the cognitive abilities of someone who is legally drunk. Making life decisions while in this state is not ideal and the body cannot function optimally under these stressful conditions.
So, what are some of the health risks of insufficient sleep?
- Impaired decision making
- Inability to concentrate
- Impaired motor function and performance
- Moodiness, depression and anxiety
- Chronic pain
- Premature aging
- Compromised immunity
- Weight gain, diabetes and obesity
Now, how do we fix our sleep rather than throw a band-aid over how we are feeling? By improving our sleep hygiene! Now that’s a term you may never have heard before! Sleep hygiene refers to certain habits that either help or harm our quality of sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and wake feeling unrested, try to incorporate some of these sleep hygiene techniques into your daily routine…
Turn off all screens 2 hours before bedtime
This is a tough one for most people! This means no computer, cellphone or television 2 hours before bed. Pick up a new habit like reading or meditating instead. Another idea is to meal prep and get everything ready for the next day to be even more organized when you wake up in the morning.
Exposure yourself to natural sunlight when you wake up
Exposing our eyes and skin to natural sunlight in the morning helps regulate our circadian rhythm and make us feel more awake during the first few morning hours. Give this a try (even during the winter months) and see how you feel. A quick morning walk is both refreshing and invigorating!
Keep your caffeinated beverages to the morning or early afternoon
Drinking coffee in the afternoon can mess with our sleep cues and instead make us feel wired when it comes time to wind down in the evening. Keeping your caffeinated beverages to the morning hours is ideal so that you experience that caffeine boost long before it’s time to wind down in the evening.
Incorporate exercise into your routine
Exercise requires energy and the more energy we expend, the more tired we will feel come bedtime. If you work a sedentary desk job, try to get in 10,000 steps a day or 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5-7 days of the week to help improve your quality of sleep.
Saje Sleep Well kit
Incorporating some relaxing essential oils into your bedtime routine works wonders! My favourite calming essential oils are lavender, camomile and jasmine. Check out Saje for some affordable options.
Weighted blankets are great for people who feel anxious and restless before bed. Throw one of these on top of your comforter for some added weighted comfort. I personally use one myself and love it!
Optimize your bedroom environment
This includes temperature, noise, furniture arrangement and external lights. Make sure your bedroom is neat, cool in temperature and relaxing to make it an enjoyable place to rest your head.
Don’t eat late at night
After dinner, allow your body to transition into “rest and digest” mode. It is not ideal to eat a late-night snack right before going to sleep as your digestive system will be in overdrive and your blood sugar will likely spike, keeping you awake for longer. Try to cut out the late-night snacking for a few weeks and see if your sleep improves.
Try some of the above recommendations to improve your sleep and begin to feel more rested and energized during the day. Have you tried any of the above? Let me know in the comments below!