Dr. Richard Leung, director of St. Michael’s Hospital’s Sleep Laboratory, and associate scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, offers some advice on how to turn a less than ideal sleep pattern around. According to Dr. Leung, quality and consistency are the keys for a peaceful sleep:
- Establish a routine and stick to it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Expose yourself to sunlight first thing in the morning. Sunlight produces serotonin, a chemical that regulates mood and the sleep cycle.
- Eat meals earlier and avoid television, tablets and smartphones before bedtime as the blue light from these devices can throw off our circadian rhythm.
- Keep bedrooms on the cool side. Warm bodies don’t sleep as well.
- Don’t rely on catnapping on your commute and catching up on weekends. It’s akin to starving yourself during the week and binging on the weekend.
“Many of us simply need to learn to relax and be mindful of how important it is to wind down to avoid getting caught up in that classic paradox where you’re so worried about not sleeping that it prevents you from being able to,” says Dr. Leung. It’s not uncommon for many of us to feel a little sluggish from time to time. But if you’re constantly drained, it may be time to look into what’s getting you down. For those unable to turn off the mind, Dr. Leung says, “consider cognitive behavioural therapy or making an appointment with St. Michael’s Sleep Lab.”
ST. MICHAEL’S HOSPITAL’S SLEEP LAB
St. Michael’s Sleep Laboratory performs almost 2,000 sleep studies per year and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including video and sound monitoring equipment. The Lab is actively involved in sleep research with particular emphasis on the links between sleep disorders and cardiovascular disease. The Sleep Lab also provides consultative services for sleep-related breathing disorders like sleep apnea and non-respiratory disorders like insomnia, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome.