Sleep: a health ally

March 19 2024 marks International Sleep Day. We can’t stress enough the importance of sleep, a vital requirement for our health and well-being, both physical and mental. It recharges our batteries, strengthens our immune system, protects our heart, stimulates our brain, regulates our mood and appetite and enhances our creativity.

All too often, we tend to neglect sleep in our hyperactive and connected society. In 2024, we sleep on average one hour less than we did fifty years ago, with negative consequences for our quality of life. The norm for an adult is 7 to 9 hours’ sleep a night, but in reality, it varies between 3 and 12 hours.

Routine, an ally

To reap the full benefits of sleep, it’s essential to follow good sleep hygiene. This includes maintaining regular sleeping hours, creating an environment conducive to sleep by reducing ambient noise and maintaining a cool temperature. It’s important to reserve the bedroom for sleeping, not for watching TV or working.

It’s ideal to reduce screen time to 1-2 hours before bedtime. Screens stimulate the brain and sometimes generate emotions that can prevent sleep. Prioritize more relaxing activities, such as reading journaling, listening to music, doing breathing exercises or practicing meditation.

Meditation for better sleep

There are various meditation techniques to help you relax your body and mind before going to sleep. These include

  • Guided meditation: letting go and preparing for restful sleep
  • Yoga Nidra/yogic sleep: relieving stress and facilitating a state of complete relaxation
  • Body scan: relaxing body and mind

Tips for a better night’s sleep

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine
  • The ideal duration of a nap is 15-20 minutes, no more!
  • Eat a balanced diet, including light suppers
  • Exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime
  • Be consistent so as not to affect your sleep cycle

If despite all your efforts, your sleep doesn’t improve after a few weeks, don’t hesitate to consult a health professional.

Have a good night’s sleep!

By Roger Lemay