An hour might not seem like a lot—it’s a TV show or some Web browsing, but getting even an extra 15-20 minutes of sleep daily can make a huge difference in your mood and energy levels.

So, how do we get a better night sleep?

Technology is one of the biggest deterrents to a good night’s sleep. The majority of adults have a television in their bedroom and maybe their smart phone is sitting on their bedside table. Their children not only have TVs in their rooms as well, but also computers, video games, and their own smart phones. Shockingly, even 30% of children under the age of two have TVs in their rooms. Is it any surprise that sleep problems seem to be epidemic?

"Research has linked television in the bedroom to higher rates of obesity and unsatisfactory sex lives; two excellent reasons to ditch the flat screen on the dresser."

Research has linked television in the bedroom to higher rates of obesity and unsatisfactory sex lives; two excellent reasons to ditch the flat screen on the dresser. As for your smart phone, nobody really needs to check their e-mail 24/7.

And a restful night is probably more fulfilling than any texts during sleep hours. Leave these things in the living room, not the bedroom. Use an alarm clock if needed, but don’t have your phone wake you up!

What’s next?

If you’re still struggling with sleep problems after improving your “sleep behaviors,” then it is time to talk to your physician. Sleep problems are commonly related to conditions such as depression, anxiety, or disorders such as sleep apnea, where you regularly stop breathing in your sleep. Keep in mind that medication isn’t always the answer. Prescriptions and over the counter medications often make sleep worse.

Your family doctor may refer you to a sleep clinic, where specialists can do further testing and help you pinpoint the problem. Some accept self referrals. When preparing to go to a sleep clinic, do a little information gathering first as appropriate regulation is currently limited in Alberta.

You should always look for a clinic that is directed by a board-certified sleep medicine doctor with access to both portable (in-home) and polysomnographic (in-lab) sleep testing to cover the range of sleep disorders.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to live your life in a fog of fatigue, fueled by double doubles from Tim Hortons.

Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind, and we spend a third of our life doing it, so why settle for less?