Get on the rush-hour train in the morning and you’ll find many Singaporeans catching a quick nap on their way to work. And it’s no wonder considering 8 out of 10 of us are apparently sleep-deprived.
Some of us suffer from sleep disorders, while some just have bad sleeping habits. The bottom line is this: losing sleep causes us to lose out. Our stamina, judgement, mood and even our immune system are all affected when we miss out on a good night’s sleep, and this may lead to poor health.
If you find yourself struggling to fend off daytime sleepiness in the office (and we’re not talking about the post-lunch food coma), it might be time to change your night-time sleep rituals and ensure that you get a proper rest. Here’s how:
Build a slumber sanctuary
It all starts with your bedroom. The first step to creating the perfect sleeping environment is to invest in comfort. Choose a sturdy mattress and fluffy pillows that can provide good support for your back and neck.
Temperature plays a big role too. It has been scientifically proven that a colder room can cool your body and induce deeper sleep.
Ideally, keep the room darkened as our eyes can be sensitive to the smallest trace of light. Use window blinds or wear eye masks to sleep if you have to.
Stop counting sheep…
… or watching your favourite Netflix series in bed. Brain-stimulating activities tend to keep us awake longer, especially activities on our mobile devices. Few of us know this, but the emission of blue light actually slows down the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone..Not only does blue light increase our alertness, it disrupts our natural body clock too.
A simple solution would be to tune out technology at least one to two hours before bedtime. If you are still wide awake, try relaxing with some breathing exercises instead.
Get into a routine
When we were younger, we used to stay up late burning midnight oil or even partying till the wee hours. Now, we might be spending those late nights at work. After all, we have the weekends to sleep in. Such irregular sleeping patterns throws our circadian body clock into a state of confusion.
To correct this, try setting a regular sleep-wake schedule (yes, weekends included). This trains our minds and bodies to recognise when it’s bedtime, and when it’s time to rise and shine. In fact, a study of insomniacs found that those who followed proper sleep routines actually reduced their sleepless episodes during bedtime by 54%.
Play white noise
Sounds we typically drown out in the day can disturb us at night because of the sudden change in frequencies that can interrupt the silence needed for sleep. Night-time environmental noises like cars whizzing by, the soft purring of a cat, the ticking of our alarm clock – these can all keep us awake.
We can use white noise apps to mask these noises. These apps typically play an audio track that filters out all unwanted noises to help you enjoy a restful sleep.
Fill your tummy
Lastly, if hunger pangs are keeping you awake, don’t fight them! It might actually be better to get up and have a quick bedtime snack to satiate your cravings – especially when you pick the right foods.
Walnuts are a good choice. They are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts into sleep-inducing chemicals. If you prefer a warm drink, brew some camomile tea. Not only is it caffeine-free, it also produces glycine, which helps relax your nerves and muscles for a calming sleep.
But don’t get carried away and eat too much!
If you still find it hard to sleep at night after making these adjustments, it might be a good idea to visit the nearest sleep clinic and get to the bottom of the issue. Our bodies were not meant to function on minimal sleep, and fixing your bedtime problems will help you be healthier, happier, and more productive.