By Mohammad Nami MD, PhD
Sleep is a fundamental pillar of our health, wellness and overall quality of life. Poor sleep can lead to a wide range of issues, from mild fatigue to chronic diseases. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around one in three adults do not get enough sleep. Nevertheless, there are actions that we can take in our daily routine to improve our quality of sleep and promote general wellbeing.
Dr. Mohammad Nami, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuropsychology in the Department of Social Sciences at Canadian University Dubai
The impact of sleep deprivation
A lack of sleep affects mood, cognitive function, and decision-making. It can lead to obesity and metabolic disorders due to disrupted hormones, and can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to illness. Long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders, including neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease.
Common sleep issues
Sleep disorders manifest in a number of ways. The most common are:
- Insomnia – difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Sleep Apnea and disordered breathing – Breathing interruptions during sleep.
- Restless Leg Syndrome – Uncontrollable leg movements that disrupt sleep.
- Narcolepsy – Excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks.
The role of nutrition
Nutrition has an important role to play in our quality of sleep. Some foods are known to help us fall and stay asleep more easily, while certain eating habits can have a negative impact on our capacity for sleep. Foods that promote sleep include, kiwi, almonds, and turkey. Foods like sugary snacks, heavy, spicy meals, and caffeine products are best avoided before bedtime.
Supplements for Sleep
Natural sleep aids and herbal supplements have been found to provide a positive impact on sleep quality. Melatonin is a hormone that can help regulate sleep-wake cycles, while Valerian Root is a herbal remedy that can deliver mild sedative effects. A magnesium supplement may help relax muscles and reduce anxiety to promote more restful sleep.
Tips for better sleep
There are several actions we can take to promote a better quality of sleep.
- Create a schedule and routine: Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Create a bedtime routine that involves relaxing activities like reading or taking a warm bath.
- Maintain a comfortable sleep environment: Sleep in a dark, cool, and quiet room and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Limit exposure to screens before bed: Blue light from screens interferes with melatonin production. Use blue light filters on devices or limit screen time before bed.
- Watch your diet and exercise: Avoid caffeine and heavy meals near to bedtime. Take regular exercise but avoid intense workouts before bed.
- Tap into the benefits of short power naps: Take short naps (20-30 minutes) to help boost alertness and mood.
- Manage your stress: Use relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to optimize your state of mind before bed.
- Explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): Take a structured, multicomponent approach to achieving quality sleep with CBT-I.
- Consult a sleep healthcare professional: For moderate to severe sleep disorders patients can explore a broader range of therapies with a sleep medicine specialist.
Our 24/7 work culture has compounded sleep issues in recent years, and yet quality sleep is a cornerstone of workplace productivity, as well as overall wellness. Sleep should be prioritized for us to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Working with sleep specialists and adopting good sleep practices can have a profound impact on overall well-being.
About Canadian University Dubai
Canadian University Dubai (CUD), established in 2006, is a higher academic institution located in City Walk, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The university is the #1 ranking University in Dubai according to the QS World University Rankings 2024. CUD is a diverse and dynamic institution, with over 120 student nationalities. The university provides academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels with a reputation for academic excellence. With 18 accredited degree programs and over 30 concentrations, Canadian University Dubai offers a diverse range of programs across four academic faculties, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience. The curriculum is Canadian-inspired and serves as a gateway for students to pursue higher education, research, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities in Canada.