Every night, I get to sleep with Darth Vader.
A couple of years ago, Dave got a CPAP machine. When he sleeps, it sounds like the white noise through a stormtrooper’s mask. I keep hearing “Luke, I’m not your father” in my dreams. The good news is I don’t have to listen to him snoring anymore.
But the machine has helped him sleep which is a good thing.
You see the problem is, we’ve become a nation of insomniacs.
Experts from the Royal Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research estimate that half the population in Canada now struggles with some sort of sleep-related problem. This week, we’ll all feel the pain of sleep deprivation thanks to the time change.
March 17 is World Sleep Day. While most Canadians will be focused on the luck ‘o the Irish and swilling back green beer, we’d have far more luck in life if we took steps towards better sleep health.
Sleep is one of the three pillars of good health, along with nutrition and exercise.
The guidelines recommend adults between the ages of 18-24 get 7 to 9 hours of good-quality sleep a night and 7 to 8 hours for adults aged 65 and older.
The worst part is we all know the drill on what we should be doing to get a good night’s sleep: go to bed at the same time every night, limit alcohol, caffeine consumption and screen time before bedtime, get plenty of exercise so we’re naturally tired. So why are so many of us up at night and exhausted all the time?
A century ago, we were a far more active society. There were also no screens in the early twentieth century. You don’t need a research study to confirm the obvious: sleep disorders have burgeoned with the use of electronic devices.
Just as modern devices are hindering our ability to sleep, some devices are helping our ability to sleep. It seems every Tom, Dave and Harry these days has a CPAP machine (I say Tom, Dave and Harry because sleep apnea is overwhelmingly diagnosed more in males).
CPAP machines actually have only been around for 40 years and came about thanks to man’s best friend.
In 1980, Dr. Colin Sullivan noticed his dog was having breathing issues. He used a vacuum cleaner motor and hose contraption attached to his dog’s snout to increase the airway and breathing for his pooch when it was sleeping. Sullivan later did research at the University of Toronto on SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, surmising the cause of death of infants was related to interrupted breathing.
CPAP machines have become a life saving device, so I’ve resigned myself to sleeping on the dark side of the bed, one with the force beside the man behind a mask.
This week’s #HappyAct is to take care of your sleep health. Just be careful not to choke on your aspirations.*
*famous Darth Vader line from Rogue One