Having a good night’s sleep is important for both physical and mental health, improving productivity and for improving your overall quality of life. Everyone, from all ages can benefit from better sleep.
Sleep hygiene includes all the things you do throughout your day and during the nighttime that helps you have a good night’s sleep. This involves developing healthy habits and behaviors that prepares your body for sleep.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends the following sleep times:
• Toddlers: 11 -14 hours a night
• Preschoolers: 10-13 hours a night
• School-aged children: 9-11 hours a night
• Teens: 8-10 hours a night
• Adults: 7-9 hours a night
• Older Adults: 7-8 hours a night
Some people naturally need less or more sleep. However, if you do not feel rested and energized after a night’s sleep, you may not be getting enough sleep.
Sleep problems can include trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, early morning waking, sleeping too much, or restless or unsatisfying sleep. It may also include snoring or gasping for air, insomnia, and restless legs.
There are things you can do to improve sleep:
• Have a routine that includes going to bed and waking at the same time each day
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
• Have a light snack in the evening but avoid anything too heavy, spicy or sugary.
• Avoid taking long and frequent naps during the day.
• Unwind about 30 minutes before bedtime, turn off electronics, take a warm bath/hot shower, cuddle your pet, read, meditate or listen to soothing music.
• Make your bedroom comfortable for sleeping, not too hot, cool is best.
• Don’t engage in mentally stimulating activities in bed, e.g. electronics, watching TV, intense conversation or arguing, working, studying.
• Don’t lie in bed awake checking the clock and worrying about the sleep you are not getting. Turn your clock; get out of bed if you have been lying there awake for more than 30 minutes; do something boring or relaxing, and when you start to feel sleepy go back to bed and try again.
If you continue to experience sleep difficulties, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Sleep problems can be a sign of a mental illness, or physical health problem. Some medications may also cause sleep problems, and this should be discussed with your doctor.