Dozed and Confused: The Rules for Getting a Proper Sleep

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Dozed and Confused:

The Rules for Getting a Proper Sleep

Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Relying on cup after cup of caffeine to make it through the day? Chances are you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep. If so, you’re not alone. Thirty-five percent of people don’t feel they get enough sleep, and that it impacts their health, lifestyle and productivity.

With sleep problems affecting 45% of the world’s population, the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) has called lack of sleep a global epidemic. They’ve developed ten specific recommendations on how to obtain a healthy restorative sleep:

10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults

1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
Without establishing a routine, trying to get a good sleep regularly will be much more difficult. Setting a routine creates sleeping “triggers” that make restorative sleep possible.

2. Naps are important, but avoid taking naps that are too long.
If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep. Experts believe a solid 20 minute nap during the day can provide significant benefits to your health, but oversleeping in the day can disrupt your ability to sleep on time at night.

3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
Both of these disrupt your body’s ability to transition to sleep naturally.

4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime.
This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.

5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime.
On the flip-side, don’t go to bed on an empty stomach either. A light snack before bed is acceptable.

6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
Regular exercise at the right time of day does wonders for your ability to sleep at night. But intense exercise speeds up the heart rate, so you’ll need at least 2 hours after a workout to unwind before trying to sleep.

7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
Since we spend at least a third of our lives in bed, having a comfortable sleeping station is a solid investment you won’t regret.

8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
Avoid keeping the heat too high as this can create a stuffy environment.

9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
Get into the habit of not bringing devices like phones, tablets or other types of unnatural light-emitting devices as they trick your brain into believing it’s still daytime and will make it harder to fall asleep.

10. Keep your bed a sanctuary for bed-related activities
Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.

Some More Useful Suggestions For Getting a Proper Sleep

This list is by no means exhaustive. Here are some more suggestions and rules for getting a proper sleep.

11. Deep breathing
This basic technique can be done anywhere, anytime. Simply sit or stand with your hands on our stomach. Inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach expand. Then inhale slowly through pursed lips, and repeat a half dozen times. You are tricking your body into relaxing by simulating sleep.

12. Stretching
This loosens the muscle tension that often occurs with a stress response. Again, it can be done almost anywhere, anytime. Most of the stretching can be done in a chair, concentrating on the back, neck and upper body.

13. Clearing the mind
This can take as little as 5 – 10 minutes. Find a quiet environment with no distractions. Close your eyes and focus on a peaceful image (lying on a beach, perhaps). A peaceful thought or a symbolic word will also work. It takes some preparation but you’ll feel refreshed afterwards and more relaxed.

14. Progressive muscle relaxation
This takes about 15 minutes to complete. The principle is simple: progressively tighten and then relax each of your several muscle groups, beginning with your toes, feet and leg muscles and working your way up to your chest, arms, neck and face. With your body and mind joined in relaxed harmony, you will notice how much lighter a relaxed muscle feels.

15. Meditation
Focus your attention on one particular thing at a time – a picture, a word, the flame of a candle. (This is more difficult than you may think – the mind tends to wander.) By disciplining your mind to concentrate, you can temporarily eliminate negative stressors.

Some more to think about

A third of our lives is spent sleeping. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. When we don’t get enough sleep, we’re at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression.

Recent studies show that men, as a rule, get less sleep than men – about 11 minutes less, on average. Women, however, experience more disturbed sleep than men. They have more trouble falling asleep and wake up more easily. Canadian research indicates 30% of adults get fewer than 6 hours a night.

There are many factors that affect how much sleep we get. Working full-time makes a difference. According to the most recent information from Statistics Canada, men who work full-time sleep 14 minutes less than women who work full-time. But shift work, commuting, and longer work days all play a part in disrupting our sleep schedules.

Single and widowed Canadians get more sleep than those living with a partner. And it will surprise no one that people with two or more children in the home tend to get less sleep than those with none.

For further reading and tips on getting a good nights rest, check out this article!

[1] Hurst, M. (2008). Who gets any sleep these days? Sleep patterns of Canadians. Canadian Social Trends, 85, Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 11-008-XWE.

[1] Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2005.

[1] Reprinted with permission from

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