Sleepless in Canada: A look at our bad sleep habits and how to fix them

About 60 per cent of Canadians are not getting as much sleep as they’d like to get, a new survey suggests. Adam Taylor/Getty Images

The vast majority of Canadians want better sleep and more of it, a nationwide survey released Tuesday reveals.

More than half (53 per cent) would even sacrifice a week-long fancy vacation in exchange for a more luxurious bed. And a third would pay up to $500 for a week’s worth of proper rest.

“They’re feeling a bit sleep deprived,” said Canadian sleep expert Rachel Morehouse, a psychiatry professor at Dalhousie University.

Morehouse was the lead panelist on the review, which saw just over 1,500 people across the country surveyed about their sleep habits this month.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada commissioned the Angus Reid Forum survey and Project Sleep site, as part of the group’s effort to build awareness about serious lifestyle issues.

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How lack of sleep can affect you

Sleep deprivation can have major effects on both your mind and body, according to Morehouse.

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In the short-term, she said it can cause problems with mental health. It might make people more impatient, anxious, sad, and difficult to get along with.

It can also hinder their productivity at school or in the workplace, as tiredness makes memory retention a challenge.

WATCH: Sleep doula Tracey Ruiz explains why children who struggle to fall asleep by themselves may experience more difficulties in school

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Over time fatigue can take a toll on your physical health, as well. Morehouse said it contributes to problems like high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.

It can have wreak havoc on your waistline too. Those who sleep fewer than six hours a night are 30 per cent more likely to become obese than someone who sleeps seven to nine hours, research shows.

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Tips to improve your sleep

1. Know your sleep style

There are two main types of people: night owls and so-called morning larks. The latter are the early-to-bed, early-to-rise types.

Morehouse believes they could benefit from an hour-long nap during the day, a workout in the evening (to help give them a little energy), and low to no light in the bedroom.

Night owls, who have a hard time getting up and going to bed at a “reasonable hour,” would benefit from low light in the evenings and bright light in the mornings.

That can cue melatonin to either knock them out at night or give them a wake-up jolt in the morning, Morehouse explains.

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She recommends they avoid activities like exercise or video games late in the evening and naps.

2. Make a routine around it

“We’re creatures of habit so it’s good to have a set bedtime and wake-up time.”

That ideally means on weekends as well. Otherwise your sleep cycle will be thrown off and you’ll start your workweek sleep deprived, Morehouse said.

3. Make sleep a priority

“We all have competing priorities but sleep needs to be up there on the list,” said Morehouse. “It should not be the last thing on the priority list.”

It should be one of the first, she added.

Here are some of the highlights from the sleep survey:

Infographic Credit: Deepak Sharma, Global News

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