Today is World Sleep Day!

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Bed from the side with an upside down teddy bear whose legs are propped up on the pillow.

World Sleep Day is celebrated annually as a call to action on important issues related to sleep. The goal is to reduce sleep problems through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. The 2022 theme and slogan is: “Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World.” 

The importance of sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for many reasons. From disease prevention to improved mental health, proper sleep restores the body and maintains optimum health at all levels. 

Often people will sacrifice sleep to work long hours and get things done. Today’s modern world of 24/7 activities encourages this sacrifice due to its fast pace, endless deadlines, quick access to information and technology, and increased productivity. 

However, a lack of quality sleep can impact our health and wellbeing. It can lead to chronic stress, sluggishness during the day, difficulty in concentration, depression, anxiety, heart problems, diabetes, and obesity. 

Approximately  40% of Canadians will experience a sleep disorder in their lifetime. Several different factors can cause poor sleep patterns and sleep disorders like insomnia. These factors may include your lifestyle, neurological and psychological disorders, chronic pain, digestive and hormonal issues, and other health problems.  

What does quality sleep look like? 

It is not enough just to go to sleep every night; good sleep is essential for good health. Good sleep does not always look the same for each person. Quality sleep can differ based on individual, social, and environmental contexts. Overall, there are three factors that make up quality sleep. 

  1. Duration: you should be sleeping for long enough that you feel well-rested and alert the next day 
  1. Continuity: The time you spend sleeping should be continuous and you shouldn’t be waking up multiple times throughout the night 
  1. Depth: You should be in a deep enough sleep that it is restorative 

Here are some tips to help you improve your sleep.  

  • Implement a sleep routine with a fixed time that you go to bed and wake up  
  • Limit sleeping in the daytime to 45 minutes maximum for adults 
  • Avoid caffeine in the 6 hours before bedtime 
  • Get regular exercise but do not do it right before bed 
  • Make your space comfortable: pick the right temperature for you, use comfortable bedding, block out distracting noises and lights 
  • Wind down before bed 
Understanding sleep and FASD 

Difficulty sleeping is common among those with FASD. In one study, approximately 85% of kids with FASD included in the research has clinically significant sleep disorders.  

It is widely known that sleep is important for brain development. Poor sleep in kids with FASD is associated with emotional, behavioural, and cognitive and academic functioning. Children with FASD may experience sleep problems that begin in infancy and last throughout adulthood.  

Disruptions in children’s sleep patterns can also impact caregivers’ sleep, which can affect the health and wellbeing of the whole family. However, not enough research has been done to entirely understand the impacts of prenatal alcohol exposure on FASD.  

A multidisciplinary approach to sleep management is key to improving sleep for kids with FASD. This includes developing good sleep habits, implementing strategies to overcome sensory processing challenges, and regulating circadian rhythms.  

Better Nights, Better Days

The ”Better Nights, Better Days” online program was created by a team of psychologists, nurses, and physicians to help caregivers overcome sleep challenges for kids with neurodevelopmental disabilities. This program teaches caregivers how to help their children relax and get to sleep quicker, with the goal of better quality of sleep. They have adapted his program in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and are currently undergoing research to understand how this program can support families of kids with neurodevelopmental disabilities across Canada who are experiencing sleep problems.  

Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World 

Sleep has a big impact on our quality of life and daily activities. With a focus on improved sleeping habits, the world can be a happier, more fulfilling place for everyone. We look forward to more research being published on how to support good sleep for kids with FASD and their families to complement the work that’s already been done.  

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