In recent years Canadians have become more and more averse to rest. A recent global study conducted by Insurance company Aviva suggests that nearly a third of Canadians feel as though they don't get enough sleep to get them through the day.
The Canadian Men's Health Foundation found that 33 per cent of men aged 30 to 49 were only getting four to six hours of sleep per night. The Aviva study reports that nearly 60 per cent of women describe often feeling lethargic. PartcipAction's Report Card found that a third of Canadian children were sleep deprived.
These statistics can be attributed to several factors but many experts are now pointing to technology as the primary cause. Aviva's medical director Dr. Doug Wright argues that late night television viewing is one obvious activity interfering with sleep patterns.
Further to this point, medical experts have said that the blue-light from our mobile devices plays into our struggle to achieve rest at night.
Vancouver-based yoga teacher and wellness coach Zain Saraswati Jamal argues that sleep deprivation is more than just a problem of how many hours of sleep you get but rather how you get rest. She argues that our culture's obsession with productivity and consumerism has affected our overall well-being and that living this way has caused us to exist in a fight or flight state.
Jamal argues that sleep is one of the most therapeutic things we can do for our bodies and that there is no quick-fix replacement for it. We can survive for a short period of time on stimulants such as coffee, tea or sugar but avoiding healthy, natural sleep will alter our body's long term health.
But there is hope! Here are four simple tips that can help you get a better night's sleep as well as achieve the quality rest you need:
Establish a strong bedtime routine that will help you rev down your day.
It is critical that people go to bed at a regular time and relax beforehand, perhaps having a bath, reading and avoiding devices. Allow your routine to centre around your natural cycle rather than forcing yourself to be a morning person or night owl.
Attuning your body to the natural rhythms of sunrise and sunset can do wonders for regulating your sleep cycle and your overall state of wellbeing.
Take the time to enjoy some silence.
It is important for busy people to turn off technology if they want quality rest. Practices such as meditation, spending time in nature, yoga, tai chi or other gentle movement practices can help create downtime.
Listen to your body
Don't force your body to do something it's doesn't want to do. If you're tired and you need to go to bed earlier than usual, that's ok. If you're not tired yet, that's ok too. If you need to take a nap in the daytime, that can be helpful too. Listening to your body's signals is key.
Take moments for yourself
Whether you love reading, hikes or yoga, it is necessary to create space for deep rest - a state of being that nourishes your mind-body-soul. Rest is not just about the hours we sleep, but how we balance our lives and renew ourselves.
Sleep and rest are not only interconnected but central to achieving a full life. How would our world change if we allowed for more time to slow down and rest.
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