Sleep: Does it really matter?

Written By: Dale Orlando

Sleep. Why is it we never feel we get enough? And what is enough, anyway? We have all heard all sorts of guidelines and theories, and it can be difficult to know what is the “best thing” to follow. I recently came across  America’s National Sleep Foundation’s new and revised, age-specific guidelines.

These guidelines are the result of a significant study and the recommendations of an illustrious panel of experts in a variety of disciplines, from paediatrics to gerontology and serve as a good baseline for everyone to follow:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

So why is a personal injury lawyer in Toronto writing about sleep?

Well, it’s partially because we do see clients who are injured in ways that might have been avoided had the people involved been wide awake and properly rested.

But it’s more because we’ve seen how important sleep is to overcoming an injury and dealing with the stress of being injured. Sleep is vital to regeneration and healing after an injury. Moreover, none of us feels able to cope with things to our best ability if we haven’t slept well.

Yes, stress and sleep are like the proverbial chicken and egg – which came first? – but here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic to help you rest, regenerate, and feel revived:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends and holidays. Consistency helps reinforce your body’s “wake-sleep” cycle.
  2. Don’t go to bed hungry – or stuffed. Reduce your nicotine, caffeine or alcohol intake before bed. (Liquor might make you drowsy, but it can disrupt your sleep later.)
  3. Have a bedtime ritual, like a warm bath or shower – and avoid electronic devices such as your cellphone and TV.
  4. Get comfortable. Have a darkened, quiet room with a mattress and pillow that best suit you.
  5. Try not to nap (and certainly not for long!) during your waking hours.
  6. Be physically active.

Manage your stress (ah, the chicken and egg). If something’s on your mind, the Mayo Clinic suggests jotting it down on a piece of paper and setting it aside. You can deal with it tomorrow.

Dale Orlando


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