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April Wellness: Prioritize Sleep

As a school division, we are committed to promoting the well-being of our students, staff, and families. One of the key ways we do this is through our monthly #WestwindWellness campaign, which focuses on a different aspect of wellness each month. This month, we are highlighting the importance of sleep and its role in our overall health and well-being.

According to Dr. Greg Wells, a leading expert on performance physiology and author of "The Ripple Effect: Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, Think Better," sleep is crucial for both physical and mental health. When we sleep, our bodies repair and regenerate, our immune system is strengthened, and our brain processes information and consolidates memories.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that children who got less than 7 hours of sleep per night were more likely to have problems with attention, behavior, and learning. The study also found that children who got more sleep had better cognitive performance and were less likely to have behavioral problems.

In addition to the physical benefits, getting enough sleep is also important for our mental health. Lack of sleep has been linked to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and can even affect our ability to regulate our emotions. Another study published in the journal Sleep found that teenagers who got less sleep had a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. The study also found that lack of sleep was associated with increased emotional reactivity, which could contribute to the development of mood disorders.

So, how much sleep do we actually need? Dr. Wells recommends that adults aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, while children and teenagers should aim for 9-11 hours. However, it's not just about the quantity of sleep, but also the quality. Creating a sleep-friendly environment and developing good sleep habits can help ensure that we get the restful, restorative sleep our bodies need.

Some tips for improving sleep include:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a warm bath or reading a book.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, especially in the evening.
  • Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Limit screen time before bed, as the blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt sleep.

As a school division, we encourage our students, staff, and families to prioritize their sleep and make it a priority for their overall health and well-being. By getting enough restful sleep, we can all be better equipped to handle the challenges of daily life and be at our best both physically and mentally.

TED TALK: Sleep is your superpower

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