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Self-care for a good night’s sleep

October 4th, 2022

A good night’s sleep is vital for good health. In combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise, quality sleep can boost your immune system, help you lose weight, improve cognitive function and make you feel better during the day. 

However, according to the Canadian government, up to one-third of Canadians aren’t getting enough sleep, with thousands suffering from sleep disorders. If you’re having trouble getting enough shut-eye, consider adopting the following habits.

Stick to a schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, and get sufficient sleep. Adults need at least seven hours a night to be healthy, teens need eight to 10 hours, while children and infants need up to 14. Sticking to a schedule helps your body develop its circadian rhythm, so it knows when to sleep and wake. Irregular sleep times can reduce melatonin levels, a chemical in your body that relaxes you and promotes sleep.

Watch what you eat and drink

Avoid caffeine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime. Coffee can stimulate your nervous system for up to six hours. Alcohol has been shown to exacerbate sleep apnea and snoring and alter melatonin levels.

Eating a large meal late at night can also disrupt your sleep, so ensure you eat your dinner several hours before bed and avoid late-night snacking. Additionally, avoid drinking anything one to two hours before you go to bed to prevent the need to urinate in the middle of the night. 

Avoid long naps

Naps less than 30 minutes have benefits such as improved brain function. However, longer daytime naps can disrupt your sleep patterns. 

Manage light exposure

Your body’s circadian rhythm is affected by how much light you’re exposed to. Research shows that exposure to plenty of bright sunshine during the day can improve the quality and duration of your sleep and may help you fall asleep faster.

Alternatively, exposure to bright light at night can disrupt your sleep rhythm. Blue light, the type emitted by digital device screens, can trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime even when it’s not. Reduce blue light exposure in the evenings by wearing glasses with blue light blockers and using an app that reduces blue light on your screen. It’s also a good idea to quit using devices one to two hours before bed.

Adjust your bedroom

Make your bedroom comfortable. Eliminate or reduce light by wearing an eye mask, installing light-blocking curtains and adjusting the settings on devices such as alarm clocks. Minimize external noise like traffic with double-glazed windows and thick curtains. Use a white-noise machine, app or fan to cancel disruptive sounds. 

Also, try to maintain a consistent temperature in your bedroom. You may have trouble sleeping when it’s too warm or cold or if the temperature fluctuates at night. For most people, a temperature of around 20 degrees C is best.

Exercise regularly

Daily moderate exercise, such as walking, can significantly increase the quality and duration of your sleep. Research shows that people who exercise daily fall asleep more readily, have more restful nights and wake up more refreshed than people who lead sedentary lifestyles.

However, avoid exercising late in the day, as the stimulating effects of physical activity can hinder your ability to sleep.

Treat chronic pain

A common cause of poor sleep is chronic pain. Spinal pain, joint pain, neck and shoulder pain and headaches are most associated with sleeping problems. Treating chronic pain with the help of a specialist may help improve the quality of your sleep. Consider these treatments: 

The right treatment can help you reduce pain and manage stress. It may also help you correct misalignments that can result in airway blockages and sleep apnea. A professional can also advise on better sleeping positions, exercises and products such as mattresses and pillows.

Manage stress and anxiety

Stress and worry are also factors that can inhibit sleep. You can manage daily stress by writing down to-do lists, so you don’t have to worry about remembering them. You can also seek the help of a counsellor or therapist who can help you find ways to manage stress, reduce anxiety and worry less.

Chiropractic care and massage therapy in Market Crossing, North Vancouver, Surrey Nordel and Surrey Southpoint

Visit Legacies Health Centre and ask how we can help you sleep better. We provide relaxing massage therapy and counselling services to ease anxiety and worry, plus an array of services to help you manage pain. Contact us today to book an appointment at one of our four locations in the Vancouver area, including Market Crossing, Surrey Southpoint, Surrey Nordel and North Vancouver.