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How can I sleep better at night?

When was the last time you got a really good night’s sleep? If you’re not so sure, you’re not alone. Having trouble sleeping isn’t uncommon. Around 30% of Canadians feel like they don’t get enough sleep and Canada loses 80,000 work days per year from absenteeism due to lack of sleep. This is at a cost of $21 billion to the economy. Quite a thought, isn’t it?

With so many Canadians looking to sleep better at night, we’ve compiled four easy-to-follow steps that will enhance your sleep experience and make it easier to drift off into the slumber that you fully deserve.

Four Easy Steps To Enhance Your Sleep:

1. Control your light exposure

With the rise of handheld devices, tablets, smartphones, and e-books, the amount of “blue light” we’re exposed to is increasing. Exposure to blue light that’s emitted through the aforementioned devices has been found to slow down the release of melatonin - the body’s natural sleep hormone - according to research from Harvard University. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for us to fall asleep. Want to remedy this dreaded blue light exposure? Here’s what you can do.

  • Avoid smart device screen time 1-2 hours before bed. Use this time to practice mindfulness, for example meditating, journaling, or practicing light yoga.
  • Turn off the television an hour before bedtime. If you feel like you miss the stimulation that television brings, try listening to an audiobook or podcast instead.
  • Limit screen time during the day. We’re all guilty of spending too much time at our desks, on a computer, staring at our phones on our commute home, and then “relaxing” by flicking through social media. Give your eyes a break regularly throughout the day.
  • Focusing on these three tips will ease you into a most restful, deeper slumber, and make going to bed seem like something to look forward to.

2. Get your sleeping area ready

Everyone has a different space in which they turn in for the night. Some may share a room with others, some may have a large and luxurious bedroom all to themselves. Whatever your space, it’s important to prepare your sleeping area. We like to think of getting ready for sleep as a ceremony.

  • Draw any curtains and blinds and adjust the thermostat to your required temperature. Remember that a cooler room is often better for a good night’s sleep.
  • If you like to use a diffuser and essential oils, turn this on and let it the scent fill the room.
  • Adjust the lighting. Bright lights can alter your mood and make you more alert, so make sure the lighting is soft and welcoming.
  • Fold back your linen sheets. This is a literal gesture to invite you into your bed.

When the time comes, you’ll find your sleeping area to be inviting and help you drift into a deep and relaxing night’s sleep.

3. Go to bed when you are tired

We all have different sleep and wake cycles. These are affected by our own internal body clocks and circadian rhythms. Some folks may find themselves feeling tired earlier than others, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s important to acknowledge when you’re tired and feeling sleepy. Listen to what your body is telling you. Perhaps you’ve had a long week and at 8 pm on a Friday, it feels like your bed is calling instead of another cocktail with friends. Acknowledge your sleepiness and read the signals, you’re feeling the urge to head to bed for a reason. Listen to that cue. There’s never any shame in taking care of yourself and getting an early night.

If you decide to fight the urge to head to bed, you’re probably staying awake later than your natural rhythm is telling you. This can lead to problems in falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting a good quality night’s sleep, all of which can have a serious effect on your physical and mental health.

Remember that your bedroom is your sleep sanctuary. Don’t use this space for watching television, checking emails, playing on your phone, or browsing the web on your iPad.

4. Get yourself ready for bed before you’re tired

Think back to last night. What did you have to get done before you were in bed and closing your eyes? Turn on the bright bathroom light for brushing your teeth, head to the bedroom to put on your pyjamas, take off your makeup or wash your face ready to hit the hay… All of these activities are stimulating and re-engage the brain. And if you leave them to the point of when you’re tired, you’ll wind up waking yourself up from your tired haze.

Prepare your body and mind before you get tired. This will help you ease off into a slumber and give you the peaceful nights sleep that you deserve.

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