I think we can all agree that sleep is extremely important. Insufficient amount of sleep hours can cause more harm than good to our health, which in turn brings negative effects to our daily life. You may encounter health problems like migraines, general fatigue, impaired memory, and deteriorating mental health that can possibly lead to anxiety, stress, and worst of all, depression.
According to the American Sleep Association, adults need at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night to reap the optimum benefits. In our country, a regional survey was done by The Consumers Association of Penang discovered that Malaysians only get about 6.4 hours of sleep on average. The survey also revealed that spending more time online and usage of mobile devices is one of the leading cause of sleep deprivation.
Majority of us have a whole bunch of important things to juggle about – family, friends, work or studies – and end up putting sleep at the bottom of our list of priorities. However, if people understand the importance of adequate, quality sleep, the juggling in between matters may be easier to handle. This begs the question, how exactly do you ensure you have a good night’s rest?
THE BETTER SLEEP GUIDE
1. SLEEP AND WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME DAILY
Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or known as the Circadian rhythm, is one of the most important strategies for better sleep. It is vital that you develop the habit of sleeping and waking up around the same time every day. This helps to set your body’s internal clock and optimise the quality of your sleep. Soon enough, you’ll wake up naturally without the need for an alarm clock – a sign of a well-rested body.
2. BE SMART ABOUT NAPPING
To ensure your sleeping hours are fulfilled every night, it is best if you can avoid having a nap in the afternoon. However, if the fatigue is getting a little too hard to handle, take POWER NAPS! Set an alarm or timer to limit your naps to 15 to 20 minutes. You will feel more refreshed after this quick nap compared to a 2-hour nap in the afternoon. Seriously, try it!
3. LESS LIGHT AND MORE DARKNESS DURING SLEEP
This points back to the aforementioned local survey findings for main cause of sleep deprivation – the usage of mobile phones – especially when you’re about to sleep. A 2008 study by researchers from US and Sweden has found the radiation emitting from mobile phones does more than just distracts us – it causes headaches and can interrupt vital sleeping patterns because they emit what’s known as “blue” light. This light is picked up by special cells behind our eyeballs, and it communicates to the brain that it’s morning. The study also mentions that participants take a longer time to fall asleep compared to the ones who are not exposed. If the habit drags on for a long period of time, researchers said it could harm a person’s mental health. So folks, before you decide to scroll through Facebook or Instagram at night, think of this fact!
4. UNWIND WHEN IT’S BEDTIME
Having a calm mind is crucial in order to gain a good quality sleep. From deep breathing, visualising a peaceful place, and counting lambs jumping over the fence when you close your eyes, do anything you think would unwind those intricate and complicated thoughts of yours! The method works for some, however creating a simple bedtime routine can send a powerful signal to your brain to let go of the day’s stress and worries. For example, read a book or magazine by a soft light, listen to soothing music, or simply just dim the light in the hours leading up to bed. By the time you’re ready for bed, your mind would be ready to turn itself off too.
5. HEALTHY DIET
You might not realise this but your eating and drinking habits contribute to your sleep quality, especially hours leading up before your bedtime. As we grow older coffee becomes a necessity for most, but the beverage can be bad for the body if taken at the wrong hours. Caffeine, a substance prominent in coffee, works as a stimulant to make you feel refreshed, alert, and energised, hence why it’s suggested to take coffee in the mornings. If you decide to drink coffee at night, don’t be surprised you’re still awake in the middle of the dead night!
Having supper within three to two hours before bed also contributes to sleeplessness. Your body is working to process the food, hence you’ll feel uncomfortable for a period of time. You should also avoid spicy or acidic food before bedtime! The habit saves you from stomach troubles, which means less frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. This applies to consuming liquids too!
If you notice, the leading causes of sleep deprivation stem from bad habits and unhealthy lifestyle. Do keep in mind that sleep is extremely important for your overall wellbeing. I’ve had enough of the people who think it’s “cool” to stay up late. Wouldn’t it be nice to tell people that you had gotten enough sleep instead, for a change?