World Sleep Day is happening March 18th, 2022, and we’re here to celebrate!
In case you slept through it, World Sleep Day has been held on the Friday before the spring equinox every year since 2008, and is marked by events around the globe in the name of boosting awareness of just how important good sleep is for a long, healthy, and happy life.
The World Sleep Society
Now that sounds like a society I can get behind! It isn’t some nefarious secret organization à la James Bond villain or comic book movie, but rather a group of health professionals in the field of sleep medicine, therapy and research who want to bring sleep issues into the daylight.
The annual event is all about getting people together and focusing on quality sleep, and what gets in the way of it. Whether you suffer from Obstructive sleep apnea, Restless legs syndrome, insomnia or any other condition that robs you of sleep, or you have a high-stress or busy lifestyle and poor sleep habits, bad nights inevitably lead to bad days.
Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to operate at their best.
Short-changed sleep, even by as little as an hour, can negatively impact mood and alertness. Not only can it make you grumpy and unfocused, it can make you a danger behind the wheel – sleeplessness has been proven as dangerous as alcohol impairment while driving. And if you suffer from chronic sleep loss, you’ll be at risk of other serious issues: everything from memory loss to heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and ultimately a shorter life span.
So what’s the trick to avoiding all that? Celebrate sleep! Deep sleep is when your body repairs itself from all the stresses and strains, injuries and infections that life throws at us, so World Sleep Day is a great time to look at our own sleep and see how we can do better.
How to celebrate sleep day
Take a nap!
Go ahead – take a nap. At work. With your boss watching. Tell them we said it was okay.
Alright, perhaps not all employers are quite there in our society, but the Spanish seem to be on to something with their siestas. Sleeping on the job usually comes with the risk of imminent unemployment in North America, but if you can carve out a little window in your off-work hours, your body will thank you for it with more energy and alertness for the rest of the day.
Just make sure to keep the nap short – a little kip of 5 to 45 minutes can give you a boost, but a longer sleep during the day can throw off your circadian rhythms and make it harder to sleep at night.
The first rule of sleep day is to talk about sleep day
You might feel like you’re the only one fighting exhaustion, or like you’ll be judged for complaining about it. But one in four Canadians is at high risk for having sleep apnea, and that’s just one condition that can steal sleep from you, so chances are you aren’t alone.
Friends and family can share tips and experiences and help each other find the way to better sleep and a fuller life. It’s all about prioritizing sleep because there are too many downsides to ignoring the problem, and the more you can talk about it and share what you’re going through, the greater your chances of doing what it takes to get your sleep on track.
Pay attention to your hygiene
That isn’t an attack on your personal grooming! Sleep hygiene means embracing habits that set the stage for the best sleep. We all fall into bad patterns from time to time, but World Sleep Day is a good reminder that excellent sleep can take some nurturing to achieve, and there are easy steps you can take to help that happen.
Why not mark the occasion by starting a sleep journal? Start tracking your sleep habits – time to bed, number of hours slept, how tired you feel during the day, that sort of thing – and after a week or two you’ll have a good idea of how some of the habits you maybe don’t think about are affecting your daily life.
Some useful tips for improving sleep hygiene include:
- Keep bedtime and wake up time on a regular schedule as much as possible, and aim for those times to include around 8 hours of uninterrupted rest. The more stable your routine, the easier it will be to fall asleep and stay asleep during those hours
- Ditch the screens (TV, computer or phone) at least half an hour before bed to allow your mind to slow down – and turn off notifications so they don’t draw you back in
- Lay off caffeine in the afternoon – that stuff stays in your system for up to ten hours. Same goes for super rich fatty foods and sugar; all will interfere with a good night’s sleep
- Ease off alcohol well before bedtime if you’re indulging in an evening tipple – while you may feel like a drink before bed helps you fall asleep faster, it actually interferes with good sleep
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary of sleep. Keep it tidy to remove stress, and ease yourself into night mode with some dimly-lit quiet time – reading, meditating or taking a bath – whatever helps you relax and shed the day so your mind and body know it’s time for some well-earned restorative rest
Get professional help
If you’re following those tips and you still find you’re not sleeping well enough, don’t throw in the towel. It isn’t an unsolvable mystery, but it probably means it’s time to speak with a professional to see if there’s an underlying issue that’s getting in the way.
If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, or some other condition that’s interrupting your sleep, talk to your doctor or book a free consultation with the sleep experts at Apnée Santé for help getting your sleep back on track.
Go to sleep and wake up happy
World Sleep Day is all about celebrating good sleep and recognizing the critical role it plays in everyone’s physical and mental health, happiness and safety. So take the time this World Sleep Day to look at your own sleep habits, then do what it takes to wake up healthy, refreshed, and ready to take on the day!