March 15, 2019

Today is World Sleep Day: Are you getting enough?

Kinesiology's Amy Bender offers sleep hacks that may help
Catching a few z's; easier for some than for others.
Catching a few z's; easier for some than for others. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Sleep. Elusive for some and plentiful for others. It has the ability to make us or break us.

World Sleep Day is today, Friday, March 15 and the topic of sleep is an important one. Research shows that we spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping; sleep is a basic human need, much like eating and drinking and is crucial to our overall health and well-being.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Thirty-five per cent of people do not feel they get enough sleep. Statistics support that: Insomnia affects between 30 and 45 per cent of the adult population.

How does lack of sleep affect you?

Sleep is important for overall health, and inadequate sleep is associated with numerous health problems. Research shows that not getting enough sleep, or getting poor-quality sleep, increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and mental health.

What does our in-house expert have to say?

“Through my research I have been able to connect the importance of sleep to athletic performance. But, good sleep is not just important for elite athletes but for all of us. Regular, healthy sleep is as important as diet and exercise but is the first to go when we get busy. There is a lot to be said for giving good quality sleep a high priority in our daily lives,” says sleep scientist Dr. Amy Bender, PhD, UCalgary adjunct assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology.

What are some 'sleep hacks' that can help you?

  • Get some exercise. All you need is two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity a week to help improve your sleep.
  • Avoid blue light two hours before bed. This hack might be the hardest to accomplish, but science says that avoiding blue light (the light from your iPad, cell phone and TV) will help with a better night's sleep. Blue light keeps you awake because it suppresses the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that signals our brain to go to bed.
  • Get outside in the morning. Light helps set our circadian rhythms, which regulates our sleep and wake rhythms. More light in the morning has been shown to help you fall asleep quicker and have better sleep quality.
  • Take a power nap. For many college students and academics, sleep deprivation happens. Make up for some of that lost sleep with a short less-than-20-minute nap. This length of nap is typically safe so you aren't waking up in the deeper stages of sleep which makes you feel groggy. Set your alarm for 30 minutes to give yourself time to fall asleep.