Are you feeling irritable and moody? Perhaps you’re having trouble making decisions? Like an estimated 3.3 million Canadians aged 15 years and older, you may be sleep deprived!

Sleep deprivation is considered less than seven hours of sleep two consecutive nights in a row. Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary, although most healthy adults are built for an average of eight hours of sleep a night, with children and adolescents requiring between nine or 10 hours each night.

It’s concerning how fast we can become sleep deprived.

It’s also concerning that a lack of sleep increases our susceptibility to serious health problems – such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and depression – while also affecting our immune system. Chronic sleeplessness is linked to an increase in cytokine molecules that control immune response. This is an inflammatory process that links sleeplessness to a variety of diseases, such as diabetes and neurological conditions.

Stress is the number one cause of short-term sleeping difficulties. Missing out on your sweet dreams can also be caused by drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages in the afternoon or evening, mentally or physically intense activities close to bedtime, traveling, shift work, and many more. The shift in times associated with Daylight Savings time can also disrupt our regular sleep schedule.

If you’re ready to improve your health with better sleep, here are some practical next steps!

Set yourself a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up in the mornings, while avoiding excessive napping during the day. Avoid eating two hours before bed, and don’t drink any caffeine in the evenings. Replace caffeinated beverages with calming herbal teas like Chamomile, Passion flower, and Valarian.

Maintaining good sleep hygiene and using best practices is valuable as well. For good sleep hygiene, keep your room pitch black, cool the room by lowering the temperature three to seven degrees over night, and make the space noise-free without televisions or radios. Best practices for a good night’s sleep include taking some time to relax and unwind before going to bed with reading or meditation; eating a healthy, low-glycemic diet without sugary food in the evenings; and, try spraying lavender on your pillow.

Pro tip! If you’re having difficulty sleeping, get out of bed and go into another room. Do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. This can help you to avoid cycling into a spiral of worry about not sleeping.

Finding your sweet dreams sleep schedule is important for maintaining good health, today and everyday! Don’t let yourself become sleep deprived this fall