“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway got it half right.  Life has a tendency to fall apart when you’re awake more than you’re supposed to be.  Long gone are the days when we slept the sleep of children….sprawled out, belly exposed, hair tousled over our sleeping eyes, so still and peaceful.  Naturally, as we age, and we begin to experience more of the world, we start to take on worries and stress, which can have an impact on the quality of our sleep.  But, if sleep eludes you every single night, then the impacts of poor or no sleep will start to be glaringly obvious.

2021 Theme

The theme for this year’s World Sleep Day is Regular Sleep, Healthy Future.  World Sleep Day is an annual event to help raise awareness on sleep issues and disorders, and the effects they have on life and society.  Turns out, being sleep deprived is expensive – costing the economy a LOT of revenue due to lack of productivity, and of course, the costs of being sleep deprived – sleeping pills, machines to help you sleep, coffee to fight the fatigue from lack of sleep, and more.  What most people are not aware of, is that chronic lack of sleep (less than 6 hours of sleep every night) increases risk of some forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Some Numbers

Back in 2016, Canada was ranked the third most sleep-deprived country in the world.  With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Canada’s ranking may have been bumped up the list – along with pretty much the rest of the planet.   Economically, according to a 2017 study, up to $680 BILLION is lost each year due to sleep in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Germany.

Many underestimate the importance of good, quality sleep.  Good sleep is restorative, and helps you function in your day-to-day life.  It’s not even the quantity of sleep, either.  Good quality sleep trumps quantity in terms of benefits.  Ideally, the best sleep is the one that is continuous, deep and between 6-8 hours.

The senior population also requires 7-8 hours of quality sleep in order to rest and recharge.  Unfortunately, as the population ages, there tend to be more challenges when it comes to sleeping, such as pain, night urination, and insomnia.  Chronic sleep interference has a drastic effect on everyday living for seniors.  This may explain why the statistics show that 71,000 people suffer injuries every year, and 1,550 people die because of sleep-related accidents.  Seniors are probably in those numbers.

Sleep Help

So how can we catch that elusive butterfly called Sleep?  Always within our reach, but we can’t quite grab it.  Happily, there are ways that you can get sound, restorative sleep.  

Here are some tips for achieving better sleep in safety and comfort:

  • Exercise regularly 
  • Keep a phone by your bed
  • Darken your room with something like black-out shades so that the morning sun doesn’t automatically wake you up 
  • Stay away from caffeine after a certain hour (everyone has a different sensitivity to caffeine so you may have to experiment)
  • Develop a bedtime routine
  • Make sure a light is within reach

Here’s an easy infographic on 10 tips for better sleep. We hope everyone has a great night of sleep, with lots of pleasant dreams, and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the world!