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fitness in Exercise
aliyamichel | healthcarereviews

10 ways to improve your Zzzzs

Feb 24th 2014 at 8:21 PM

One in four Canadians experiences sleep deprivation. Are you one of them?

According to the better Sleep Council of Canada, 25 percent of Canadians could use more Zzzs. Adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Your body and mind rejuvenate while you're asleep, and without sleep, you'll suffer "daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, memory problems," and other side effects, says Dr. Henry Olders, a Montreal-based psychiatrist and assistant professor at McGill University who studies sleep disorders

Other effects include "impaired immune and endrocrine function," says Dr. Glendon E. Sullivan, deputy director of the Atlantic Health Sciences Sleep Centre, based in Saint John, New Brunswick. "Our white blood cell counts diminish and ability to fight infection may be affected, and our ability to keep our blood glucose levels in check is impaired," he adds. Studies have also shown ongoing lack of sleep can contribute to depression, irritability, stress, anxiety, and even obesity, according to the Better Sleep Council of Canada.

Are you having trouble hitting the hay? If you're having ongoing problems getting to or staying asleep, see your family doctor.

But for once-in-a-while difficulties or a general lack of satisfaction with the quality of your sleep, try these expert-approved lifestyle tips.

1. Invest in a good bed
Buying the best bed you can afford is an investment, not a splurge. "Having a good-quality bed that's big enough for individual movements and sprawling cannot be overemphasized," says Dr. Sullivan. Extra room minimizes disruption if you or your partner toss and turn, and also allows you to pile on, or peel off, extra blankets if the two of you don't see eye-to-eye on nighttime temperature. Additionally, look for the level of support and firmness you prefer, and buy it new: dust-mites, bedbugs and worn out coils aren't worth any savings.

2. Declutter for sleep
"A quiet, dark room that is used primarily for sleep," is best, says Dr. Sullivan. It's amazing how few bedrooms actually fit the bill, though. Distracting TVs, radios, laptops, home-gym equipment, overflow from closets, and other clutter are commonplace in many bedrooms. Sound like yours? Move the clutter from the bedroom.

3. Paint your walls
A stimulating bedroom palette like cayenne may spice up your boudoir, but it also might be the reason you're having difficulty winding down. Consider repainting your walls a restful blue, grey, or neutral sand. (Stick to these shades for your bedding, too.)

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