Everyone is different, but one thing every human being can agree on is that we NEED sleep. Some people can fall asleep within minutes, while some people take hours to nod off. But why is this and how do we get into a sleeping routine?
Greenwood welcomed sleep expert Emelyn Bartlett to speak to our Grade 12 students about the importance of sleep and what they can do to get the full amount of sleep they need each night.
Emelyn is a registered psychotherapist and social worker in Toronto with over 16 years of clinical experience providing counselling to adolescents and adults. Emelyn specializes in anxiety, stress, depression, relationship difficulties, grief, trauma, life transitions and insomnia.
In addition to her private practice, Emelyn teaches family medicine residents as part of the University of Toronto’s Counselling Skills Education Program.
Emelyn’s presentation to the Grade 12s focused on the importance of sleep and how we can get a good night’s rest.
She listed many reasons why sleep is important including:
memory consolidation and concentration,
athletic performance and coordination,
healthy development; and
improved mood and happiness.
Teens who sleep less can show more signs of stress, which can affect their day-to-day activities. It is important that teens get between 8-10 hours of sleep every night in order to function at their best throughout the day. However, those who are in school, heavily involved in extracurriculars, and/or work part-time jobs can often miss out on the full sleep they need. Ensuring you can fit the right amount of sleep into your schedule, regardless of how busy you are, will help improve mood and overall performance throughout the day.
But how do you get a good sleep?
Emelyn explained various factors that can negatively impact a person’s sleep and how to overcome obstacles that are keeping you from getting the sleep you need. Her biggest piece of advice is to wake yourself up at the same time every single day (this includes weekends). No matter how much sleep you get, you should wake yourself up at the same time every single day in order to set a routine. If you tend to sleep in longer on weekends it can throw off your sleeping patterns just like jet lag does when you travel.
Emelyn also suggested turning off all digital screens including cellphones, laptops, tablets etc. one hour before going to sleep. Scrolling through social media or watching movies online can keep your brain from shutting down and falling asleep. She also mentioned that if you wake up in the night and have trouble falling back asleep you should get up and walk around or do something until you feel tired again (not scroll through your phone). “It takes about 30 minutes for your body to go into sleep mode”, she said.
With postsecondary on the horizon for our Grade 12 students, Emelyn also shared tips about the relationship between sleep and doing school work in your bedroom. “How many of you study or do your homework in your bedroom or in your bed?” Emelyn asked the students. A majority of the Grade 12s raised their hands. Emelyn explained that the stress of school being brought into the bedroom can then create an association between your room and stress. If you are studying in your room, you will go to bed thinking about the stress of your studies, which can result in difficulty sleeping. Emelyn suggested doing all homework at the dining room table or any place other than the bedroom.
Emelyn’s expertise and insight allowed the Grade 12s to think about how much sleep they are getting and what they can do in order to improve their nighttime routine. Our Grade 12s were so engaged and interested in the discussion and expressed that they will take what they learned and apply it to their daily lives.