How to get back to your regular sleep routine?
Published on October 25, 2022
As a summer filled with late nights and relaxed mornings wraps up, it’s likely that you and your family will need an adjustment period. This may involve earlier bedtimes and an earlier alarm to take on the morning. Taking small steps to adjust back to your pre-vacation lifestyle is important for the overall health of your family. Moreover, this is especially important for your sleep and mental health if you are a parent with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Ensure a smoother integration back to your regular sleep routine by following the steps provided below!
The importance of setting up a bedtime routine.
Did you know that 1 in 3 Canadians aged between 35 and 64 report that they do not get enough sleep? It is important that you establish consistent bedtime habits to help your body get ready for sleep. By doing so, your brain recognizes those activities as an indication to get ready to sleep soon. Performing the same activities in the same order on a nightly basis forms a habit over time.
Bedtime routines can also greatly benefit your natural circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm, or circadian cycle, is an internal process that regulates your sleep–wake cycle, which repeats every 24 hours. A disrupted circadian rhythm can lead to multiple cognitive and behavioral issues such as a lack of focus, attention and memory.
One way to ensure that you and your family are building these habits is to plan ahead. Activities such as picking out your and your children’s outfits, packing lunches the night before can be a part of the sleep preparation process. Making sure that the whole family is organized and is ready for the next day, the night before, will help reduce stress and anxiety from rushing in the morning while also allowing for peaceful sleep.
Getting enough sleep every night.
It is important that you and your family get the necessary amount of hours required every night to feel energetic in the morning. It is recommended for adults to sleep for 7 to 9 hours on average per night. Your family members can have varied sleep cycles based on age as well as demographics.
A night or two of diminished sleep may only lead to short-term effects such as daytime irritability and tiredness. However, regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night can increase your chances of developing chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. In fact, sleep deprivation leads to a three fold increase in the likelihood of a person developing type 2 diabetes. So, make sure you and your family get into a good bedtime routine that helps everyone rest and rejuvenate to take on the day ahead!
Try to avoid stress before sleeping.
Building bedtime routines are essential to get your body habituated to sleeping and waking up at the same time every day. These routines play an important role in reducing late-night stress and anxiety. Lack of sleep, stress, and/or anxiety are closely linked as one can easily trigger the other.
Stress can negatively impact the quality and hours of sleep you get at night. Poor sleep hygiene at night can increase your stress levels the next day. These anxious and stressful thoughts activate your sympathetic nervous system that control the body’s fight or flight response. Over time, chronic stress can snowball into insomnia, which has serious health implications like weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
To limit stress and/or anxiety you can plan some relaxing activities that will help you and your family wind down before bedtime. Create a relaxed atmosphere that involves time for family bonding. Picking out pajamas, bath-time, working on a puzzle, or reading bedtime stories together can be fun and foster a calming environment. De-stressing activities help you and your family get ready to go to bed in the best spirits!
Limiting caffeine 6 hours before bedtime.
Late night caffeine intake has become somewhat of a regular tradition amongst adults of all ages who are staying awake to meet deadlines! Although it helps you stay focused, the effect of caffeine can last over 6 hours impacting your sleep. Caffeine can prevent you from getting to sleep, reduce your hours of sleep, and drop your overall level of efficiency.
Did you know that caffeine reduces the time of slow-wave sleep, a stage of deep sleep that helps you feel refreshed and alert the next morning? The intake of caffeine can disrupt sleep at night leading to fatigue, problems with memory and information intake. If you are having trouble sleeping, it is recommended to limit your caffeine intake up to six hours or longer before bed.
Avoid alcohol intake before bed.
You may have a glass of wine at dinner to help relax after a stressful day. You may think alcohol can help you get to sleep faster, but in fact, it can affect your sleep quality. You may experience rebound awakening resulting in disturbed and diminished sleep. Alcohol has a negative effect on your overall sleep cycle, particularly in the second half of the night as it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is the stage of sleep where people dream. This stage is important for learning and memory formation.
Additionally, alcohol intake can also increase your risk of disrupted breathing during sleep, which can trigger obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is prevalent among 5.4 million Canadians, but only 1 in 4 have been diagnosed. It is therefore recommended to avoid intake of alcohol before going to sleep in order to improve your sleep–quality.
Sleep improves with reduced screen time before going to bed.
Screen time before falling asleep increases brain activity and the “glow” from devices has shown to delay the release of melatonin, a hormone that signals your brain that it’s time to sleep. The “blue light” emitted from technological devices like your phone, laptop and/or tablet has also shown to reduce the amount of time you spend in the slow wave and REM stage of sleep, both of which are crucial to cognitive functioning. You can use blue light blocking glasses or applications to limit exposure while using devices. It is recommended that all ages in the family should unplug at least an hour before bedtime to ease your brain and the rest of your body for sleep.
Best practices to keep up your healthy sleep routine.
- Sleep 7 to 9 hours a night.
- Sleep in a cool, dark and quiet bedroom.
- Stay consistent with your sleep schedule or routine, even on weekends.
- Avoid drinking coffee within 6 hours of your bedtime.
- Avoid drinking alcohol at least 2 hours before your bedtime.
- Avoid using technology at least an hour before going to sleep.
- Try to relax by yourself through relaxation techniques or with your family through bonding activities before bedtime.
If you want more information about improving your sleep health and routines, our VitalAire clinicians would be happy to speak with you, please contact us.
VitalAire will help you throughout your sleep health journey, with a personalized one-on-one approach to improve your sleep, health and well-being.