Kate Bass BSc
Today is World Sleep Day, an annual global event that aims to improve sleep health worldwide.
World Sleep Day is organized by the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) to spread awareness of important sleep-related issues through a series of special events. This year it is focussing on insomnia with the theme “When Sleep is Sound, Health and Happiness Abound”.
Sleep is essential for our general health and a lack can lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue, affect mood and increase the risk of chronic illness. However, sleep does not come easily to everyone.
Do you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning and press snooze more than once? Do you find it more difficult to concentrate on your work throughout the day? If so have you reviewed your sleep habits; are you getting adequate, quality sleep? Such questions are often not given much attention, but they are important as a range of serious health risks can result from sleeplessness.
Breathing well, dreaming well and resting well results in sound sleep — continuous, deep sleep of adequate length. Such sleep is restorative and allows a person to feel alert and rested throughout the day. If quality sleep is not attained this can disturb mood, affect relationships and social interactions and interfere with the performance of daily activities.
Insomnia is routine difficultly in achieving sound sleep and, in addition to habitual sleepiness, is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular issues, such as high blood pressure, and memory problems. People who persistently struggle to get a night of uninterrupted sleep are also more likely to develop chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, and symptoms of anxiety and depression than people who sleep well.
Poor sleep habits therefore not only leave you feeling tired but may also be contributing to long-term health issues. Better sleep habits lead to a happier life for you, your family, your friends and your colleagues and will help reduce the risk of chronic illness and mental health issues.
Review your sleep habits using WASM’s 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults:
- Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
- If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
- Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
- Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
- Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
- Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
- Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.
World Association of Sleep Medicine. www.worldsleepday.org