To celebrate healthy sleep and help others learn about sleep’s vast importance, World Sleep Society hosts an annual awareness day in March, World Sleep Day. This year it is on March 15, 2019. The slogan is “Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging.”"Getting good quality and quantity of sleep is one key to aging well, improving the odds of physical, cognitive and emotional health. Getting good sleep in young adulthood and middle age reduces the risk of obesity and hypertension, protects against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease, and has been associated with decreased rates of depression. In some studies, regular sleep has even been associated with fewer signs of aging in facial skin and better tissue tone. Look better, feel better, be better. There is a lot to be said for giving good quality sleep a high priority in our daily lives.”- Dr Timothy I. Morgenthaler, MD is a Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine.
Sleep hygiene. How do those two words translate into a great night’s sleep?
“Good sleep hygiene means making sleep a priority and following daily routines that allow you to do so,” explains Liborio Parrino, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology at Parma University, Italy and chair of the 2018 World Sleep Day Committee . “Simply put, good sleep habits can cause good sleep quality. And studies have shown quality of sleep is even more important that quantity of sleep.”
World Sleep Society created what they call the “10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults” back in 2008 and they still hold true today.
Follow these 10 Tips for Better Sleep from World Sleep Society.
1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
As much as we love Saturday morning sleep-ins, research suggests changing sleep and wake times every weekend can interfere with circadian rhythms. Sticking with the same sleep and wake time every day will improve your sleep hygiene.
2. Allow yourself to take a nap if you’re tired.
Taking a nap may aid in feeling refreshed. Just know if you take an afternoon siesta, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
3. Adjust to a healthier lifestyle regarding your substance use.
Sleep experts agree you should avoid excessive alcohol ingestion and tobacco use at least four hours before bedtime.
4. Create a caffeine cut-off time.
Depending on your bedtime, it’s best to know the exact time to stop caffeine use. World Sleep Society suggests avoiding caffeine six hours or more before bedtime. Keep in mind caffeine isn’t just in coffee. You may want to check the caffeine content of your tea, soda and chocolate as well.
5. Change up your bedtime snack.
A light snack before bed is acceptable, but for your best sleep, avoid heavy, spicy or sugary foods at least four hours before bedtime.
6. Watch your workout routine.
For your best sleep, experts advise exercising regularly. But if you’re a night owl, you may want to switch your workout time. Exercise right before bed interferes with sleep.
7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
If you’re still using that old comforter that makes you so hot you wake up in the night, perhaps it’s time to replace it, for sleep’s sake.
8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
Recent studies have found cracking a window open can aid in getting better sleep. Setting your thermostat to automatically drop a few degrees at your bedtime may also help.
9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
Electronics in the bedroom distract from sleep. Experts agree, falling asleep in front of the television is on the “poor sleep hygiene” list.
10. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.
Laptops and smartphones make it far too easy to answer emails from bed. But for your sleep health, leave work out of the bedroom or you may start to associate your bed with stress.
Following the guidelines of sleep hygiene can help prevent poor quality sleep, short duration of sleep, fragmentation of sleep and sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a myriad of health issues ranging from mental health disorders to cardiovascular disease.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their “discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”.
This Nobel Prize is an exciting acknowledgment of sleep research that will hopefully lead to answers for those living with circadian rhythm sleep disorders. To honour this great achievement the slogan of World Sleep Day 2018 is ‘Join the Sleep World, Preserve Your Rhythms to Enjoy Life’. The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of circadian rhythms in healthy sleep.
What is the circadian rhythm and why is it important to preserve regular circadian rhythms?
Circadian rhythms refer to a cycle within the body. Our circadian control genes that create cellular oscillations affecting cell function, division and growth, along with critical physiological functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature, immune responses and metabolism. When these rhythms are disrupted, we see increased rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression and many other diseases.
The circadian rhythm plays such an integral part in sleep health. Preserving regular circadian rhythms have been found to lower the risk of sleep disorders, mental health disorders and chronic health issues. Sound sleep is one of the three pillars of good health along with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Individuals who get an entire night’s sleep without any interruptions experience lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses.
For more information about the Circadian Rhythm and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders:
Watch a fascinating video from the BBC “How body clocks rule our lives”
Circadian Rhythms from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
How much sleep do we really need?
If you are a teenager or young adult you may be surprised. It is recommended that teenagers (14-17) sleep between 8-10 hours, however it may be appropriate for them to sleep as much as 11 hours. Young adults (18-25) are recommended to sleep 7-9 hours however, it also may be appropriate for this age group to sleep 11 hours. Older adults (26-64) are also recommended to sleep 7-9 hours, however it may be appropriate for this group to sleep 10 hours.