Healthwise: Healthy Sleep Habits

The crucial role of sleep in everyday functioning becomes ever more apparent when you are not getting enough rest. As a result of too many sleepless nights, you may battle headaches and chronic fatigue, feel greater irritability, struggle to concentrate and discover you have more difficulty problem-solving throughout the day.
Notably, sleep-deprivation impacts our metabolism’s proper functioning, and leads us to make unhealthy choices, such as depending on sugary foods and excessive caffeine to keep functioning, which over time results in weight gain and other associated health issues. Even more seriously, sleep disorders can put you at risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.[1]

By adhering to a few healthy sleep habits, you are contributing to your health:

1. Strive for a minimum of 7-9 hours of sleep per night: While everyone requires a different period of sleep, those who only need four or five hours to function optimally are rare. Keep track of the hours slept each night and make a point to notice the days that you are at your best. Identify your magic sleep number.
2. Get your exercise: Exercise plays an important role in helping to release stress after a long day. Not only will exercise ease the tension in your muscles, but it will also help to clear your mind, which will then allow for more restful sleep.
3. Turn off the television: Watching television late into the evening can lure you into staying up way past your bedtime as you ignore your natural rhythms in favour of the exciting distraction. Not only does watching TV keep you up past your natural bedtime, it also stimulates your mind and can keep you from falling asleep long after the TV has been switched off.
4. Meditate: Instead of watching television, sit quietly at the end of the day. Find a comfortable and quiet area in your home and take the time to notice what you are feeling. Process your thoughts and slow your breath in preparation for sleep. This simple activity helps relieve worry and cues your body for relaxation.
5. Sleep on your side: Sleeping on your side with knees bent promotes the natural curvature of your spine as opposed to sleeping on your stomach, for example, which forces the neck into a hyper-flexed position and can cause tension and discomfort during the day, and may even lead to long-term problems with your spine.

No matter what steps you decide to implement into your routine, recognizing the importance of sleep is vital to your overall health.