Sleep affects many parts of our physical, psychological, and social life. It should be valued just as much as eating right and getting enough physical activity throughout the day. All living things (people, animals, even plants) have a type of internal clock referred to as circadian rhythm. This affects our levels of sleepiness and alertness. Whether you work the night shift or not, you are most likely to feel sleepy between midnight and 6:00 am.

Can’t Sleep? Try these Sleep Tips

Sleep problems are common and many Canadians do not get enough sleep (for most adults, that’s around 8 hours a night), and the impact can be seen in our overall health. Getting a good night’s sleep can help improve your mental well-being, including your ability to focus and your mood level. The good news is that there are things you can do to improve your sleep including the following sleep tips:

1. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment.

If you want to have a restful sleep, it helps to create a comfortable sleep space. Make sure that you have a supportive mattress, pillow and fresh bedding. Also, try to ensure that your room is not too hot or cold, minimize noise, and block out light. Some find that earplugs or “white noise” machines, humidifiers, and sleep masks are very helpful.

2. Relax.

Try doing something to relax your body and mind before going to bed. Try taking shot bath 90 minutes before you plan to go to sleep. You could try listening to meditation or relaxation apps, or to calming music. Turning off all blue light- emitting devices like cellphones and laptops at least an hour before bedtime could make a difference as well.

3. Set a Bedtime Routine.

Having a bedtime routine cues your body that it’s time to sleep. So, establish a set routine that you follow every night. Aim to sleep and wake at the same hours every day, even on weekends.

4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol.

Avoid consuming caffeine at least four hours before bedtime.This includes coffee, caffeinated teas, soft drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a stimulant and it can keep you awake. Although you may think that alcohol will help you fall asleep, it interferes with sleep later in the evening. Try to avoid consuming alcohol at least four hours before bed.

5. Avoid Fatty Foods.

Ice cream, potato chips, nuts, red meat or fried chicken too close to bed time makes your body focus on breaking down these rich foods which can keep you from sleeping well.

Don’t try to do everything all at once. Instead, choose one or two tips to start and try them consistently. When you’re ready, try adding a new tip. The goal is to slowly start increasing positive behaviours that can help you sleep, while reducing the things that are interfering withyour sleep. Be patient - it can take time to improve your sleep.

Sleep disorders don’t disappear without treatment. Treatment may be behavioural,pharmacological, physical or a combination. Sometimes sleep problems can be the result ofvarious conditions or medical problems (like sleep apnea if you snore), so it’s important todiscuss your sleep concerns with a doctor or other healthcare professional. Contact Members Healthto schedule an appointment with one or our therapists or doctors to discuss your sleep.