Do you wake up every day feeling sluggish? You’re not alone. With the many changes and stresses 2020 has brought, many people are feeling a little more tired than usual. On the other hand, maybe you’ve been having trouble falling asleep or are lying awake at night thinking about the general state of the world. But whether you’re struggling with sleepiness or fighting insomnia, Alberta Blue Cross® has experts who are here to help.

According to our corporate wellness manager, Linda Crawford, “Sleep should be considered a non-negotiable ritual in a commitment to self-care as it impacts all other aspects of total health and well-being.”

If your sleep habits are suffering, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene—that is, healthy behaviours that can help you maintain a regular sleep schedule and routine.

Below are some healthy sleep hygiene guidelines recommended by our Pharmacy and Wellness teams that can help you get a better night’s sleep.

  • Get regular daily exercise, such as going for a walk or run, working out at a gym or doing yoga. Based on some of the information available on our Balance® site for Alberta Blue Cross® plan members, daily exercise can help people sleep, although a workout soon before bedtime may interfere with your sleep. For maximum benefit, try to exercise five to six hours before going to bed.
  • Stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule (yes, even on weekends), making sure you go to bed only when you’re tired.
  • Observe at least a one-hour “wind down” period prior to lights out. For example, do something relaxing and enjoyable before bedtime.
  • Helpful activities to wind down can include taking a warm bath or reading a book under an indirect light source (pointed away or behind a shade) to relax, using a journal to get thoughts out of your head or listening to relaxing music to help drift off to and maintain sleep.
  • Maintain a good sleep environment, making sure your bedroom is quiet and comfortable and your clock is out of sight.
  • Use your bed only for actual sleep time—if you are awake in bed for more than 15 to 20 minutes, get up and go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity. Return to bed only when you start to feel sleepy.

Poor sleep hygiene can include the following activities that you should avoid:

  • Don’t take long naps during the day, as they can make it harder to fall asleep at night. According to the Canadian sleep society, napping can disrupt your natural sleeping and waking rhythm and interferes with your nighttime sleep.
  • Avoid substances that may disturb your sleep including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, recreational drugs and medications.
  • Avoid frequent use of sedatives if possible. They may help with sleep, but a physician should be consulted initially to investigate causes of insomnia, prescribe a suitable lifestyle modification, non-drug or drug treatment and provide follow up to see if continued therapy is safe and warranted.
  • Avoid large meals and unhealthy foods and beverages in the evening.
  • Limit your use of technology at bedtime. Using a bright screen from devices like smartphones and computers for an hour or more can increase your alertness, making it harder to fall asleep. Also, try to switch from using interactive devices like a phone or video game console to passive devices such as reading on an e-reader or watching a television show.

By practicing healthy sleep hygiene, you can take the first step to sleeping better and feeling less tired during the day. For more information, Alberta Blue Cross® members can use the member site to access our Balance® wellness platform. Balance® includes learning opportunities about sleep and resources from Canadian health experts, trackers to help you maintain healthy habits like sleep and rewards you for actions you take to improve your health and wellness.

Balance® is a registered mark of the Canadian Association of Blue Cross Plans, an association of independent Blue Cross plans

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