Sleep for wellness
Sleep problems are common, there are some easy ways to improve the quality of your sleep.
Many people find that their physical and mental well-being also improves when their sleep improves
. Type of sleep problems can people have?
• Trouble falling asleep: lying in bed for more than 30 minutes without being able to fall asleep
• Trouble staying asleep: waking up frequently during the night
• Early morning waking: waking in the early hours of the morning before you need to get up but not being able to fall back asleep
• Behaviours that interfere with sleep: such as snoring, grinding your teeth, restless legs, sleep walking and breathing problems
• Sleeping too much or for too long
• Excessive sleepiness or urge to nap during the day
• Excessive fatigue or lack of energy
How much sleep do I really need?
• Babies: 11-14 hours a night
• Pre-schoolers: 10-13 hours a night
• School-aged children: 9-11 hours a night
• Teens: 8-10 hours a night
• Adults: 7-9 hours a night
• Older adults: 7-8 hours a night1
How sleep problems affect mental health?
Sleep problems can have a negative effect on your mental health by influencing your emotions, thoughts, behaviours and body sensations.
• Emotions: If your sleep is disturbed, you might feel irritable, grumpy, numb, sad, anxious, worried or stressed.
• Thoughts: Sleep problems can make it difficult to concentrate, think clearly or make decisions the next day.
• Behaviours: You’re more likely to avoid your usual activities when you are experiencing sleep problems.
• Body sensations: Sleep difficulties can leave you feeling tired, drowsy or worn out.
Tips for getting a good night’s sleep
Avoid caffeine close to bedtime
Some people have problems sleeping when they have consumed too much caffeine
Avoid alcohol close to bedtime
It might feel like drinking alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, but alcohol can disrupt your sleep.
Stress has a big impact on sleep, so it’s important to take time to relax before bed.
Exercise a few hours before bedtime
Research shows that people who exercise regularly (30 to 60 minutes, three times a week) have deeper sleep
Follow the same routine
Try to keep the same sleep and wake schedule every day—including weekends.
Avoid naps if you experience sleep problems
Naps aren’t necessarily a problem, but for some, naps may interfere with sleep at night. If you experience problems with sleep, consider cutting out naps to see if your sleep improves.
Avoid going to bed too hungry or too full
Eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks at regular times throughout the day will help with a good night’s sleep.
Get up if you do not fall asleep within half an hour
Get up if you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes. Leave your bedroom and do something relaxing like listening to soft music, taking a bath, drinking a warm caffeine-free beverage or meditating.
Make your bedroom comfortable and only use it for sleeping
A mattress with good support and comfortable bedding are both helpful.
Challenge the belief you can’t function without a perfect night’s sleep
When you can’t sleep, you might check the clock and worry about getting through the upcoming day.
Diet for wellness
The key to eating for wellness is not necessarily what foods to eat, but rather how and when we eat them.
There is no definite right or wrong. It’s often a matter of personal taste and unique body chemistry.
Food influences the way a person feels, how he or she sleeps and interacts with others.
Too much food can lead to extra weight, and extra weight is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease and decreased physical function.
Diet can affect how people with chronic illness feel. It’s important to feed the body in a way that optimizes your own health, and the hard part is crafting the right diet for your body’s and mind’s needs.
To maintain a healthy diet:
• Eat six to nine servings, or more, of fruit and vegetables each day,
• Eat some healthy fat each day: avocado, walnuts, almonds, other nuts, olives, chia seeds, olive oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil. “Try to limit fats to four servings each day, based on hunger.
• Find a good source of protein. Judd says lentils, beans, seeds, fish and meat qualify. Base your protein source on your likes. “I once ate fish every day for a week to be more ‘healthy’ and was so miserable I binge-ate three huge cookies. There is no reason to make yourself miserable. Try to strike a balance between what you like for taste and what keeps you from being hungry.”
• Use physical activity to feel good, not to lose weight. “If you have eaten in the last three hours, but feel tired or shaky and think you need to eat
• Download an app that tracks calories.
• As far as supplements, consider adding vitamin D to your diet, 2,000-4,000 IUs in summer and 4,000-8,000 IUs in winter. “Check with your doctor first to determine whether you may need more due to vitamin D deficiency. Apple cider vinegar is loaded with probiotics, which along with what you eat can change the bacteria in your gut. When I’m feeling lethargic, I add B12 and fish oil to my diet. Supplements are great but shouldn’t be the primary source of vitamins and minerals. You want them to come from your diet first.”
• When it doubt, consult a dietitian. Ask a friend, colleague or your physician for suggestions, or search for one online. “The internet is a great source for information; but don’t get too bogged down in the details, and be wary of anyone who says they have the ‘cure’ for obesity or the ‘solution’ for belly fat.
Exercise for wellness
Physical activity or exercise can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life.
Benefits of regular physical activity
• reduce your risk of a heart attack
• manage your weight better
• have a lower blood cholesterol level
• lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
• have lower blood pressure
• have stronger bones, muscles and joints and lower risk of developing osteoporosis
• lower your risk of falls
• recover better from periods of hospitalisation or bed rest
• feel better – with more energy, a better mood, feel more relaxed and sleep better
Exercise for wellness guidelines
• Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you cuently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
• Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
• Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
• To maintain health and reduce your risk of health problems, health professionals and researchers recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.
Ways to increase physical activity
• Increases in daily activity can come from small changes made throughout your day:
• such as walking or cycling instead of using the car
• train or bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way
• walking the children to school.