SLEEP TIGHT, SLEEP RIGHT: Strategies to Elevate Your Sleep Quality

Randy Gardner holds the Guinness World Record for staying awake for an astounding 11 days and 25 minutes. There have been even longer stints since setting his record in 1964. However, Guinness Book no longer monitors records for the longest time awake because the challenge is just too dangerous. 

As a busy mom who struggles with bouts of insomnia, I can understand why. After just a few nights of tossing and turning, I become lethargic, irritable, easily confused, and I struggle to finish a simple thoug…

Getting a solid night’s sleep isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Insufficient sleep takes a toll on our physical, mental and emotional well-being. And, it appears sleeplessness is on the rise, especially among our youth. 

For the little ones and the not-so-little ones (we’re looking at you, teenagers), sleep is like the secret sauce for growth, learning and memory consolidation. 

In adulthood, sleep still plays a pivotal role in regulating mood, maintaining cognitive abilities and supporting overall health. As we age, quality sleep remains vital for restorative functions like tissue repair and strengthening our immune system.

So yeah, sleep is kind of a big deal.

How do we go from counting sheep to catching some sweet REMs? According to sleep expert Alanna McGuinn, “Improving your sleep begins with establishing a pre-sleep routine that signals to your body it’s time to wind down.”

 The allure of smartphones, tablets and laptops has led to a sleep-disrupting phenomenon. The blue light emitted by these devices suppresses melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. So, give your tech gadgets a curfew of at least one hour before bedtime. Also, monitor what you are consuming right before you go to sleep. If there are social media accounts or TV shows (including the news) that heighten your feelings of stress, avoid them before bedtime.

  As enjoyable as it is to Netflix and nibble, late-night snacking can stimulate your digestive system and make it harder to sleep. Try to finish eating and drinking at least 3-4 hours before bed to give your body ample time to digest.

  A warm bath helps lower your body temperature, which is essential for falling asleep. Add some calming lavender or bath salts for an extra touch of relaxation. 

  A slightly cooler room (around 18-20°C) is generally the Goldilocks zone for slumber.

  Lower the lighting in your environment as you approach bedtime. This signals your body to prepare for sleep and naturally start to release melatonin, our sleep hormone. Invest in proper window coverings that block out light to create a darker sleeping space.

  Listening to soothing music or a podcast with a calming narrative can help you relax and distract your mind from racing thoughts. Set a timer to turn them off automatically. 

  While sleep apps can be handy, don’t get too obsessed with hitting a specific number of hours or sleep stages. Use sleep trackers periodically to spot trends and make adjustments to your sleep routine.

A great night’s sleep might feel like chasing a unicorn, but don’t give up hope. Tweak your pre-sleep routine with these tips, and you’ll find yourself drooling into your pillow in no time.  

Good night and sweet dreams! 

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