Sleep 101: Why It’s Important and How to Get More

Sleep 101: Why It’s Important and How to Get More

Getting eight hours of sleep isn’t always possible. Here’s how to make up for it.

A great night’s sleep is just as easy as finding the Loch Ness monster or shedding those last 5 kilograms.

Despite the seeming impossibility of a solid eight hours, it is far more important than the two activities mentioned above — and maybe even more important than you think.

Sleep deprivation can result in poor memory, poor concentration, mild mood swings (which is just a really nice way of saying “You’re cranky.”) and slowed reaction times.

All of this added up doesn’t just mean forgetting where you placed your wallet or having a rough morning at work, sleep deprivation can be dangerous: Thousands of traffic crashes per year are attributed to sleep deprivation.

Studies also show a correlation between sleep deprivation and weight gain or other health conditions.

We know good sleep is good for us, and we know it makes us feel better, so how come so many of us have a hard time clocking in eight hours every night?

Work schedules, children, lack of time, inability to relax — all of these things can keep us from getting the recommended amount of sleep. Babies wake up at 11 p.m., 2 a.m., 4 a.m. Work demands that you stay up late — again. Or maybe you’re one of those who fall into bed, but can’t quite fall asleep.


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What’s a sleep deprived person to do? It’s funny you should ask:

Make it a Priority
If you’ve decided that bedtime is 10 p.m., make bedtime be 10 p.m. Forget that work project, forget the dirty dishes and make it a point of hopping in bed at the same time every night.

Free up Your Schedule
If your schedule is so jam-packed that you’re unable to get enough sleep, it’s time to loosen it up a little bit. You can’t pay someone to sleep for you, but you can pay someone to do your laundry. You can order take-out and eliminate that late night TV show in favour of some solid sleep.

Make a Routine
Routines work for children just as well as they work for grown-ups. Let your body know that it’s time to settle down by coming up with a simple bedtime routine. It could be as simple as changing into pyjamas, brushing your teeth and reading a little bit before bed.

Televisions, computers, tablets and smartphones emit artificial light and can keep us up at night. Make the decision to unplug an hour (OK, fine, a half hour) before bedtime so your brain knows that it’s no longer in work mode. Trade in social networking for a hot shower and cosy slippers.

Work with the Kid Factor
Babies and toddlers can be unpredictable, but if you can, get them on a schedule — they need good sleep, too! If you’re waking up several times a night, trade turns with your spouse on who gets to sleep in on weekends.

If you can catch a catnap during the week, take it! Room-darkening shades and some white noise can help you get in the mood for napping. If you can, hire a sitter to take the kids out for a couple hours one afternoon while you and your spouse get some much-needed rest. But of course if a lack of sleep is a consistent, life-altering problem, be sure to see your doctor.

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