Why Canadians aren’t
getting enough sleep
Only 35% of Canadians are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night
By James Weller
Previously published on August 5, 2020
One thing many of us love is sleep. Crawling into bed at the end of a long day and falling straight to sleep is one of the best feelings unless you can’t. A poll conducted by Research Co. found that only 35% of Canadians are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night. This means that roughly 24 million people in Canada are only getting 6 hours or less of sleep.
This is a problem because we need sleep in order to function and be healthy. Lack of sleep may not seem like a big issue, but sleep deprivation affects your mental health, physical health and overall quality of life. Your brain needs sleep in order to form new pathways that encourage things like learning, decision-making and problem-solving. Sleep deficiency alters the way you think and can lead to major incidents like a car accident if you aren’t paying attention. Lack of sleep has also been linked to depression and in turn suicide.
Sleep deficiency affects children and teenagers especially because sleep is necessary to support healthy development.
Your body also needs sleep to heal physically. Constant sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of diseases in your heart and kidneys, which may lead to major issues like diabetes or a stroke. Studies have further shown that sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity, especially in children and teenagers. Sleep deficiency affects children and teenagers especially because sleep is necessary to support healthy development.
Why aren’t Canadians sleeping?
The fact that 24 million Canadians are sleep deprived is a huge problem. But why are Canadians not sleeping? Sleep deprivation can be due to a variety of reasons: too much time spent in front of the screen before going to bed, persistent stress at work, worries about not having enough money, or perhaps even stress due to relationships or loneliness.
A bad or old mattress is another reason Canadians may not be sleeping. Many people don’t know that you should change your mattress every 7-10 years, they do not last a lifetime. Mattresses start to lose their shape after 7-10 years of use and can become uncomfortable. If this sounds like your mattress, buying a new mattress online may be a good idea for you since visiting a store isn’t ideal during these times.
A bigger reason that Canadians may not be sleeping, however, could be due to sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where a person’s breathing stops and starts throughout the night. An estimated 5.4 million Canadian adults are either at high risk of sleep apnea or have been diagnosed with it. This obviously affects how they sleep through the night, if they do, so they often wake up feeling groggy.
‘Nearly two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 18 are overweight and 80% of those suffering from sleep apnea are undiagnosed.’
The most common reason people develop sleep apnea is obesity, as heavier people have more tissue surrounding their airways, causing obstructions. This is likely why it affects so many Canadians since 64% of Canadians over 18 years old are overweight according to a report by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2017.
To make matters worse, 80% of Canadians have sleep apnea but are undiagnosed. This is because symptoms of sleep apnea can often be mistaken for normal sleeping patterns or tiredness. Symptoms include snoring, pauses in breathing while asleep, drowsiness or poor concentration when awake and headaches in the morning.
So, if you or your loved ones are experiencing these symptoms or sleep deprivation in general, it may be worth it to go to the doctor. Constant sleep deficiency can lead to chronic health problems in the future, so it is better to seek help as soon as possible. Let’s start sleeping better Canada!
Feature image: Public Domain
As someone who saw friends and family rarely sleep at night, James Weller’s mission is to spread awareness on the importance of sleep and why we should get more of it. In his free time, he enjoy writing, fishing, skiing, canoeing and playing badminton. SustainablePlanet.ca