COLUMN: Your lack of sleep could be wreaking havoc in your life

Did you know that one in three Canadians does not get enough sleep?

Lucy Wyndham

Special to the Morning Star

Did you know that one in three Canadians does not get enough sleep?

Furthermore, up to 50 per cent of individuals do not find their sleep satisfactory according to a report released by Statistics Canada.

While the National Sleep Foundation recommends between eight and 10 hours of sleep a night, the majority of adults only sleep for an average of 6½ hours per night. A lack of sleep can affect the body in many ways including an increase in blood pressure, obesity, a compromised immune system and elevated stress levels. It can also prevent you from reaching your full potential, both in the offices and on the sports fields of Vernon. It is important to understand just how detrimental a lack of sleep can be to your body and to make the lifestyle changes needed to ensure you sounder sleep and an improved well-being.

Compromised immune system

When your body is deprived of sleep, your immune system is one of the first things that take a knock. Once your immune system becomes compromised it becomes increasingly harder to fend off illness. Apart from getting sick more easily, it will also take you longer to recover if your immune system is not performing at its best. When you get a good night’s rest, your immune system produces sufficient infection-fighting cytokines that help kill viruses and bacteria that are trying to attack the body. Although Vernon is home to a number of outstanding doctors that will soon have you feeling like your old self, it is better if you can prevent getting sick in the first place.

Elevated stress levels

Constant sleep deprivation can lead to increased stress levels as the brain is not given the opportunity to recharge adequately. Once our stress levels are elevated, sleep becomes even more difficult, leading to a very dangerous vicious cycle according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). When you are overly tired most aspects of your mental well-being is compromised. You become agitated, lack good judgment and become prone to anxiety attacks. You may find your stress levels going through the roof and could even end up with a severe bout of depression. If you want to keep your stress to a minimum and keep your brain alert, make sure you get your eight hours of sleep a night.

How to get a good night’s rest

In order to avoid suffering the plethora of unpleasant and even dangerous side-effects associated with sleep deprivation, it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure you get a sound night of sleep every night. Where possible, avoid being on a PC or phone for at least an hour before going to bed as the blue light emissions can have a severe impact on your circadian rhythms. Instead of spending time in front of the TV at night, rather join in on the weekly Dancing in the Park sessions that are held at Stuart Park by fun and interactive Vernon-based instructors.

Engaging in a fun exercise will not only keep you away from those highly addictive electronic screens but will also tire you out so that you sleep sounder at night. If you are a coffee fan that likes to indulge in countless cups of java a day it is perhaps best to cut down, supplementing your coffee intake with tea, water and fruit juice. The Morning and Afternoon Teas held at the Mackie Lake House during August provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a fragrant cup of tea and some mouth-watering sweet and savoury snacks.

Now that you know how debilitating a lack of sleep can be, you should take greater care to get a good night’s rest as often as possible. While you may not always be able to sleep for a full eight hours in a single go, it is important to give your body and your mind enough rest to ensure that you are happy, healthy and able to tackle your everyday tasks with vigour.

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