#HEALTH
6 Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep

Make your journey to dreamland easier with these simple steps that you can take at home.

By Chris Ong      18 January 2021

Sleepless in Singapore? Don’t worry, you are not alone. It has been reported in various studies that an estimated 44 to even 62 percent of Singaporeans catch less than the suggested eight hours of Zzzs on weekdays, with insomnia, a common sleep disorder, affecting some 15.3 percent of Singaporeans. Misery does need company it seems, but in good company, the sleepless among us certainly aren’t. And there are many reasons why: working late into the night, work stress, afflictions such as headaches and body aches, and so on. It is best to see a doctor if you are facing chronic sleep issues or suffering more serious health afflictions (for example, chronic migraine instead of a mild headache), but if you are simply experiencing a lack of sleep now and then, it might do you some good to try these tips to help yourself get some serious shut-eye.

A cup of tea
Photo: Shutterstock

Have A Cup Of Tea

Remember that age-old childhood ritual where your Mum will let you have a warm cup of milk or Milo before you rest your sleepyhead? There’s some truth to this. A hot mug of your favourite beverage can make you feel like you are treating yourself and helps to relax you after a long day. Don’t have a preferred drink? Then try some tea. Popularly regarded as a natural sleep remedy, tea can help calm your mind and ease your tense body. But, make sure the ones you brew are herbal teas (or tisanes) that are caffeine-free. Sip on these few that are said to help induce sleep: chamomile, peppermint or lemon balm. (Do read up more about calming teas in our other article here!)

drink water in bed
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…But Do Not Drink Too Much

Aside from making sure the tea (or any liquid) you drink is caffeine-free, it’s also advisable that you just have a small cup of it. While being hydrated is good for your general health, taking in too much liquid (even plain water) into your bodily system might lead to nocturia, the medical condition where excessive urination occurs during the night. So if you feel that your bladder fills up fast, do keep your last drink to at least an hour before bedtime and pop in to the bathroom just before you hit the bed. The last thing you want is to wake up in the middle of the night to heed nature’s call and find yourself unable to return to sleep after!

drinking in bed
Photo: Shutterstock

And Do Not Drink Any Kind Of Liquid Just Because It Is Your Fave

Yes, having your most-loved beverage may assist in some restorative sleep, but not if it contains caffeine or alcohol, or is acidic or carbonated in nature. Caffeine acts as a stimulant for your nervous system, and while it may benefit you during the day when you need that shot of energy, it can worsen your nighttime sleep quality and might even cause longer-term sleep deprivation. Since it reportedly stays elevated in your blood for up to a possible 8 hours, it is best to lessen or even stop your caffeine consumption before 4 pm, and if you must have a cuppa during teatime, make it a decaffeinated one.

While some people might feel drowsy after having some alcohol as a nightcap, it is actually a stimulant, and hence, can disturb your sleep regularity. How so? Alcohol has been reported to cause or increase symptoms of snoring, apnea and disrupted sleep patterns; changes nighttime production of melatonin, a hormone that helps in the timing of your circadian rhythms (i.e. your 24-hour internal body clock); and decreases the natural nighttime elevations in human growth hormone (HGH), which like melatonin, plays a key role in your circadian rhythm, as well as cell repair and metabolism amongst other functions. In short, having a shot before you hit the sheets, is not a good idea if you need to wake up the next day well-rested.

As for carbonated sodas and chocolate beverages made with cacao beans, they might also contain caffeine (though in more minute amounts), but if you are especially sensitive to this stimulant, just avoid them to be on the safe side. It may surprise you, but fruit juices are iffy bedtime drinks too, as they may be too acidic for you and could cause heartburn or rumbles in your tummy – not good when you are trying to snooze through the night.

sleep
Photo: Shutterstock

Try Not To Nap Too Often Or Too Much And Sleep Regularly

While it can be beneficial for you to take a mid-day power nap (one that lasts less than 20 minutes) to up your energy and productivity level, such a siesta (or taking too many Zzz-breaks) might end up confusing your internal body clock and disturbing your nighttime sleep. Take note of whether the practice of catching forty-winks affects you adversely at night, and while you are at it, why not cultivate a habit of having set sleeping and waking times? Studies have shown that irregular sleep patterns do affect the quality of sleep negatively, while having a consistent daily sleeping and waking schedule can aid you in aligning with the natural loop of your body’s circadian rhythm, enabling you to have more high-quality, restorative rest.

man using mobile in bed
Photo: Shutterstock

Do Not Use Your PC or Mobile Devices

Working hard and playing hard in the day on your digital devices? Then you ought to wind down when the sun starts going down, too. Switch off your computer, laptop, mobile phone, or any kind of electronic device at least half an hour before slumber time. Disconnecting can help you unwind and prevent you from worrying about work or getting too excited by forms of entertainment (for example, gaming or the hottest K-Drama). At the same time, such devices also emit blue light, which is said to suppress the secretion of melatonin, and hence, may interfere with your natural sleep cycle.

bedroom lamp
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Prep Your Bedroom Right For The Night

Since the bedroom is meant to be a space for you to hit the sack, it would make sense to make it as comfy and sleep-inducing as possible. The general guidelines are to make it cool, dim and quiet. What you can do to make the bedroom your personal cocoon: Experiment with your room temperature and ventilation levels to see what makes you feel at ease; dim your lights or employ warm lighting to create a cosy ambience; make sure your bed, pillows, bolsters, army of soft toys, etc., are as plushy as possible; hang curtains along your windows and door to keep out any unwanted external light or noise; or use an eye mask, ear plugs or even wear your favourite set of cartoon-printed PJs if you must. It is your “Zzz-pace”, so you get to make the rules in order to get the best rest.


Featured image: Shutterstock

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