Health Canada recommends adults between the ages of 18 and 65 should get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. But getting enough shut-eye can be a struggle — especially when stress and anxiety are added to the mix.
However, as Sleepwell Consulting founder and CEO Amanda Hudye explained to CTV Morning Live anchor Stephanie Massicotte, there are some easy steps you can take to encourage sleep and prevent stress from interfering with your visits from the sandman.
Here are some of the top tips Hudye says she shares with clients:
Catch your breath
It certainly is a challenging time right now and the most important thing to know about sleep is that our bodies know exactly how to do it.
Our job when it comes to sleep and especially when we're going to sleep, is we need to ensure that everything is down at baseline.
So we want to get our breath nice and controlled, our heart rate down, our blood pressure down, and that will allow our body to move into stage one sleep.
The first thing that is really helpful to be mindful of is those nice big deep breaths and at Sleepwell with all of our clients we really love to teach box breathing.
It's inhaling through your nose for four, holding your breath for four, exhaling through your mouth for four and holding your breath for four.
And as you visualize going around that box and getting control of your breath it will stop that "spinning."
Sometimes those spinning thoughts that lead into one and then the other and then there's this whole layering effect, and it increases our heart rate, and our blood pressure and our body cannot get into stage one sleep in that state.
Skip the nightcap
Alcohol is a sleep inducer so it's going to help you fall asleep, but it's going to do nothing for the quality of your sleep.
So, two, three hours later when our body starts to metabolize that alcohol, it's going to have an adverse effect on our sleep, often waking us up.
If it doesn't wake us up it's going to pull us out of those deep restorative stages of sleep so we're going to wake and not feel refreshed at all.
Embrace a routine
100 per cent, a bedtime routine, doing the same thing in succession, every single night is going to help us fall into that stage one sleep.
It doesn't need to be a big routine.
I mean just maybe a quick shower, brushing your teeth, meditation, maybe some reading on your book and not on your tech, not on a screen, is a great way to really focus on the hygiene of your sleep.
Don’t be afraid to start over
Average is about 15 to 20 minutes, that's how long it should take the average adult to fall asleep.
So if you're tossing and turning and if sleep is just not coming I recommend getting out of bed.
It's a bit of a restart, maybe grab a glass of water, go into a different room, do some light reading, nothing too heavy, and then go back and try again.
The truth about melatonin
The biggest component is just knowledge is power and knowing what happens in our body in order to fall into stage one sleep and taking control of that.
We get the question a lot about melatonin specifically. Melatonin, you can get it over the counter (and) there are a lot of different dosages. We recommend about 0.5 milligrams.
Synthetic melatonin is not a sleep inducer, it's a sleep regulator, so that means that our bodies naturally will produce melatonin about an hour and a half to two hours before we fall asleep. If you're using synthetic melatonin, it's the same thing.
Don't take it and go to sleep right away because that's not going to help. Taking it about an hour and a half to two hours prior to your bedtime is going to help regulate your sleep so watch dosage, if you're taking synthetic melatonin, and especially timing.
When you think about that box breathing and really focus on the breath and going around it's going to shift the focus from all those spinning thoughts - but also being really proactive.
Meditation during the day is such a great way because if you're not practicing, you can't call on a strategy when you need it.
So meditating, a guided meditation even five or 10 minutes a day to start your morning.
For your morning routine it's an amazing way to start your day.
And then also, after you wash your face and brush your teeth, do your evening routine, do a five minute guided meditation again getting all those body systems down before sleep.
This interview was edited for length and clarity