Healthy Sleep: How to Get Enough When the Days are Getting Longer

April 16, 2024

Hopefully we have all gotten over the spring time change a couple of weeks ago!  As the days become longer and we have more sunlight at the beginning and end of our days it is good time to consider how we get a good night’s sleep.  As an ergonomist living in Calgary, our days are getting longer and some adjustments to my sleep environment and routines are needed.   Consistent, healthy sleep means good habits, but also it means we have optimized our sleep environment. This is known as sleep hygiene. Everyone has different needs when it comes to sleep, but having healthy habits and a proper sleep environment can work wonders.

We’ve talked about what sleep is, why it’s important, and what it does for your health. In this article, we’ll cover what you can do to have restful, rejuvenating nights.

Couple in deep sleep after insomnia cure

What’s behind healthy sleep?

The first is simple: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day; bedtimes aren’t just for kids. Dedicate 7 to 9 hours for sleep every day and make time for quiet relaxation before this to help you wind down. If you can’t fall asleep, get up and read or do another quiet activity before trying again in 20 to 30 minutes.

Your sleep environment also needs to support healthy sleep. Install blackout curtains or wear an eye mask if light is disturbing you.

The same goes for noise – this disturbs almost everyone when they’re sleeping. Shift workers tend to be particularly light sleepers. Consider wearing earplugs, turning off ringers, or even posting a sign asking people not to ring your doorbell.

If people are awake in your home when you need to sleep, talk to them about how they can keep noise down without interrupting their lives. You may want to put carpets in or install sound insulation. Another way to reduce noise and light levels is closing your bedroom door.

Temperature is also a factor. Keeping your room around 18.5 C is optimal for staying nice and comfortable beneath the sheets.

Sleep Hygiene During Waking Hours

There’s a lot you can do before bed, as well. The biggest is staying away from blue light before one-two hours before bed. Ideally, you should avoid screens – TVs, smartphones, tablets.

This is increasingly hard, we know. Some people use tinted glasses or certain apps to reduce or block blue light, but it’s best to avoid it altogether. Instead, read a book or listen to a podcast. Just find something you like to do that doesn’t involve screen time.

Another thing is social life. It’s not going to kill you to stay up a little later on the weekends, but you should schedule social activities around sleep, not the other way around

With shift workers this is a particular challenge. Try to eat one meal a day with your family and keep regular meal times. Sleeping and eating at unnatural or irregular times can disrupt digestive enzymes.

If you are working nights, avoid excessive snacking, especially of processed foods loaded with salt, fat, and sugar. Eat breakfast before going to bed so you don’t wake up hungry.

As always, drink lots of water, don’t have caffeine or large meals before sleep, and keep a healthy, balanced diet.

Naps, Exercise, and Consistency

What about resting during the day? Napping is great if you do it right. Don’t nap for too long because it might be hard for you to get up.

If napping during the day, do so before 3 p.m. If you work nights, try to nap for 2 hours before work.

A big thing a lot of insomniacs are missing out on is exercise. In fact, it’s so important to your health that it combats insomnia and excessive sleepiness.

You should be getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. This can, of course, be a wide range of activities.  As the weather improves, get outside, and enjoy the great outdoors.  Summer is short in Canada, so enjoy it while you can!

Just don’t go for a workout too close to bedtime. This raises core body temperature, making it harder to sleep.

Employers can make a big difference, too. Schedule the most demanding work early in a shift when employees are more alert and make sure there is enough time between shifts for employees to get home, eat, and still get 8 hours of sleep.

If possible, provide facilities on site for employees to nap before or after their shift. Promoting social activities for staff and family members also goes a long way.

Night workers seem to sleep better with four 12-hour shifts (rather than five 8 to 10 hour shifts), but workplace accidents increase after 8 hours, so this isn’t always a good solution.

So, think about your sleep hygiene before you seek medical help or take sleep-inducing substances. Change your habits; make your schedule more consistent – there’s no harm in trying!  Get a better sleep so you can make the most of the long days of summer!  In Calgary there will be over 15.5 hours of sunlight on Summer Solstice.

Please check out some of the other blogs on sleep linked in this article. We hope it brings you healthy sleep!

EWI Works offers many services that can improve your quality of life. We have developed several cost-effective remote services to help you transition to remote work. Find out more about our Online Training, Services, and Resources. 

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