March 17, 2023
Get your sleep on—it’s World Sleep Day!
It may not get as much hype as other celebrated world awareness days, but the theme of this year's World Sleep Day should give you a clue to its importance; sleep is essential for health.
Just like eating well and exercise, sleep is critical to our well-being. Skimping on sleep might seem like you can pack more into your day, but it will eventually catch up on you with lower energy, focus and emotional regulation, put simply, it’s harder to enjoy the moments in your day. And conversely, overdoing sleep isn’t going to turn you into a dream machine, it’s more likely that you’ll feel just as groggy. Like nutrition and movement, balance is key.
A whole day to celebrate sleep?
Yes and no, it’s a little more complex than that! World Sleep Day began back in 2008, by the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) and World Sleep Federation (WSF). With the guiding theme of ‘Sleep Well, Live Fully Awake’, World Sleep Day was born in an effort to present a united front and raise awareness of the importance of sleep health around the world. Now in its 16th year, World Sleep Day continues to be a global call to action on the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, as well as a united focus on the prevention and cure of many common sleep disorders.
Everybody sleeps, but are we really getting enough? According to an article published in the Washington Post back in 2021, sleep regularity, and our sleep schedule also plays a factor in how we rate our quality of sleep. And with so many of us working from home, balancing home-schooling and conflicting schedules, it can be hard to draw a line between our waking hours and winding down for the day.
Even if technically we’re putting the hours into our sleep (otherwise, where do those 8 hours go!) World Sleep Day is a chance for us to ask ourselves, are we really getting quality sleep? Given we spend a third of our lives sleeping, it’s worth doing right… right?
What makes a good night's sleep?
You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning, feeling well-rested, relaxed and excited for what the day is going to bring? If it’s been a while between dreams (as for some this kind of morning ritual sounds much more dream-like than a lived reality), and you’re looking to change the way you view your sleep, then World Sleep Day is the perfect excuse!
According to World Sleep Day professionals, the three elements of a good night’s sleep are:
- Duration - This is different for everybody, and the old eight-hour rule doesn’t always apply. This is about feeling as though you’ve slept enough to feel ready for the next day. Basically… waking up on the right side of the bed!
- Continuity - Seamless, uninterrupted sleep periods (remember those!). Without all the tossing (and the turning) and the falling out of bed.
- Depth - Restorative, deep sleep, the kind that we’re all aiming for!
According to the same article from the Washington Post, adequate sleep, (between seven and nine hours for most adults) can improve cognition, mood, and also boost our immune system. Which makes celebrating and paying attention to World Sleep Day, even more important. Before we get onto our tips, if you’re looking to find out how you can participate in World Sleep Day, you can find all the info you need, right here.
How do we make the dream (of a great night’s sleep) become a reality?
Since everyone loves a checklist, the nap loving folks at Harvard Medical School have published 12 key steps you can take (why not start on World Sleep Day?) to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid Caffeine
This is a tough one, but excess caffeine can definitely hinder our sleep schedule. Skip your nighttime jolt or cup’a’joe.
- Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary
Remove distractions, and rely on natural light, as opposed to intense overhead lighting late at night.
- Carve out a nightly routine with low-key activities
Whether this means light reading before bed, or listening to a meditation to help you drift off keep things low key, and put the work emails away!
- Go to bed, only when you’re tired!
Ever tried to fall asleep when you’re not tired? It’s frustrating (and a little fruitless). Experts recommend leaving your bedroom environment and engaging in one of your favourite low-key activities (again, work emails do not count!).
- That clock you’re watching? Umm let’s try something else
Watching the clock and trying to calculate how much time before you have to get up and start your day, vs how much time you’ve spent lying here counting sheep, is only causing you more grief! Kick the clock watching habit for good!
- It’s all about Natural Light!
Natural light and your internal clock are the best of friends. Your body knows that when it’s dark outside, it’s time to sleep, especially if you’ve gotten yourself into a good habit. Ditch the night light (it’s ok no judgement here), and the phone light and let the sun do its thing.
- Keep your sleep schedule consistent
Pick a bedtime, and stick to it. Of course, things change from time to time and schedules can be tricky, but keeping things (mostly consistent) is key.
- Love a nap? Get in early, or skip it altogether
Those 4 pm naps? They’ve gotta go! Ask yourself if they help or harm, and if you think they might affect your nighttime sleep quality.
- Save your bigger meal for breakfast
We love a big meal at dinner time as much as the next person. But according to sleep experts, a full stomach right before bed, can actually hinder your shut-eye!
- Watch your fluids
No one likes a middle of the night trip to the bathroom right?
- Exercise early in the morning
Exercise is all about waking up your body and getting those muscles firing ready for action. Right before sleep time? Not much action happening there!
And lastly, new habits and routine take time. Give the above steps a chance and they will do wonders when it comes to sleep.
So how will you be celebrating World Sleep Day this year? If you’re looking to get involved, or want to know more of what the sleep experts around the world have to offer, you’ll find everything you need, here!
Here at BedsRus we’re committed to helping Kiwis sleep better, which is a big part of why we’re bringing some of the wisdom from World Sleep Day back to our community. If you’re looking for more hints and tips a little closer to home, check out our thoughts on the importance of stretching before bed, our favourite sounds to sleep to, or the health benefits we’ve found to getting a good night’s rest.
Have more questions? Get in touch with one of our friendly team.