Imagine yourself sitting in a warm room at a meeting or presentation, you are listening to the soothing sounds of the speaker’s voice, and suddenly you feel your head nod forward and you realize your eyelids have shut despite your best efforts to pay attention. You snap your head to attention and sit up straight, only to feel your body relax and the weight of your eyelids betray you over and over again. As you dig your nails into your palm, pinch your arms, and stab yourself with your pen to stay awake, you tell yourself, yet again, that you have got to go to bed earlier and get more sleep.
But you don’t. Sure you might go to bed a little earlier that night, but it won’t be long before familiar habits take over and you find yourself working late, catching up on emails, or binge watching Netflix just to relax. You continue to stay up too late and wake up tired. You’re not alone.
Modern society glorifies busyness and getting things done – for years we’ve put hard work and success above sleep. We often brag about how little sleep we get and how much we get done. However, researchers and medical professionals are ringing
the alarm bells: We need to wake up to the fact that not getting enough sleep is bad for us (see these National Post and CBC articles). We now know is that a lack of sleep actually makes us less productive and impairs our memory, reflexes, and judgement. Adequate sleep is also related to improved outcomes of both physical and mental health. So what can we do about it?
To bring awareness to our need for better sleep and promote healthier sleep habits, West Vancouver Schools will be celebrating Sleep Week from February 18th-22nd.
Each day will focus on one sleep tip to encourage a change for better sleep (see the details here). Perhaps the one that might have the biggest impact is a shift in our use of electronics. Sure, it’s easy to say that the kids have to stay on top of their homework assignments, or that I have to make sure I check those emails from work, but did you know that the blue light emitted from screens interferes with the natural release of melatonin in our bodies? Try turning off the devices at least 1 hour before bed for a week and see how it changes your ability to sleep. If you just have to finish that assignment or report on your device, wear orange tinted glasses that filter out the blue light. Another small change that all individuals and families can make is to create a charging station away from the bedroom. I have been doing this for 6 months and the improvement in my sleep quality has been undeniable. I went back to using an old school clock radio for my alarm, and it has been amazing. Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl and Dr. Mark Lysyshyn will be giving us more information and suggestions in the March 12th DPAC event “Dreaming of Better Sleep for Your Family?” which is open to anyone who wants to learn more.
So starting next week, what changes are you going to try? Come celebrate Sleep Week with West Vancouver Schools and get a better night’s sleep to have a better day.