7 Ways for a Restful Sleep

In metropolitan Singapore where most people lead fast-paced and busy lifestyles, sufficient sleep is extra crucial for optimal function, but ironically unattainable by many. Insomnia is a longstanding obstacle for many in having sufficient sleep. Therefore, the following are some workable pieces of advice to help you bid goodbye to recurring panda eyes and eye bags.

Keep your room free from dust and clutter
As much as you love your stuffed toys, you may not want to welcome them into your room for a good night’s sleep. Stuffed toys attract dust and dust mites that may worsen asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis. Furthermore, they clutter up the room. If you own pets, it would be even more advisable for you to keep them at bay from your room, as they shed fur and may wake you from your sleep. A study published by Sleep in 2015 showed that people with messy rooms face difficulties falling asleep and were more at risk for disturbed rest. Vacuum the floor and wipe surfaces with a moist cloth minimally once per week to eliminate dust. Use pillowcases and bed sheets that are dust mite-proof. Wash pillowcases, bed sheets and blankets at least once per week in water heated to 60oC.

Keep your room cool, dark and quiet
Sound of any kind is a big no-no for a good night’s sleep, as it will be detected by the brain as noise while preparing for sleep. As light is a cue for the brain to wake up, minimize exposure to light by drawing curtains, and wearing blackout shades or an eye mask. As our bodies’ core temperature reduces during sleep, a cool room helps our bodies to enter sleep mode.

Turn off mobile devices
In the digital age, mobile phones have long replaced traditional alarm clocks to wake one from his slumber. However, the multi-functionalism of mobile phones entices people to scroll social media feeds, respond to texts or check emails way beyond the time for sleep. To detach yourself from the allure of your mobile phone, you should consider returning to basics – switch off your mobile phone and get yourself a traditional alarm clock.

Exercise at the right time
Exercise is a double-edged sword for sleep, depending on when you engage in it. Exercise regularly in the morning and not right before pulling the covers over your head. This is because exercise stimulates the release of cortisol which increases alertness. Therefore, it is best to exercise at least 3 hours before bed. Regular exercise like stretching and aerobics improve restful sleep.

Establish a routine favorable for sleep
Unless you work the night shift, you should not nap for longer than 30 minutes during the day, and naps should not be taken after 5pm. Even better, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening, as well as stimulating activities like computer games and TV programs. Although alcohol induces sleep initially, it acts as a stimulant thereafter, causing you to wake up several times and deteriorating your quality of sleep. One hour before bed, calm your nerves by taking a bath, reading a book or meditating. Refrain from discussing stressful events to prevent the body from secreting cortisol which increases alertness. You should also retire with a satisfied tummy – neither too full nor too hungry. Importantly, do not attempt to consume sleeping pills without your physician’s advice, as tolerance accumulates rapidly.

Establish a consistent sleep-wake cycle
Natural light helps in keeping a healthy circadian rhythm. Therefore, expose yourself to natural light as much as possible during the day. Also, set fixed times to retire and wake up so that the body’s “biological clock” can be established, making you to go to sleep at a certain time. It would be best to adhere to your sleep-wake cycle even during weekends, so as to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover. Waking up at the same time is most effective in setting your “biological clock”. Despite you had insufficient sleep the night before, the increased sleepiness helps in consolidating your sleep the following night.

The last resort
Still wide-eyed after 30 minutes in bed? Sit up and engage in a quiet but non-stimulating activity such as reading. Once you feel sleepy, go to bed. Repeat this as required till your eyelids feel heavy.

Authored by: MHC