Still struggling to get quality sleep? Build these five habits into your routine.
If you’re always struggling to fall asleep, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that Singaporeans are sleep deprived. Additionally, one in three Singaporeans has sleep apnoea, a serious disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. It’s a known fact that sleep is important, so here are some tips for you to get a good night’s rest.
(Also read: 10 Ways Singaporeans Can Sleep Better)
Listen to your body
This might sound like a bad idea for those who hit the snooze button multiple times, but it’s more about finding out when your body is most ready to wake up. Even after 10 hours of sleep, some people may still feel lethargic and groggy.
According to research from the Applied Cognitive Studies, this is because the feeling of refreshment isn’t caused by how many hours you sleep, but the number of sleep cycles you complete.
You go through five different cycles when you sleep, the final phase being rapid eye movement sleep, the period when you dream. In the first phase, your vital signs are close to being awake, and in phase four, you are in your deepest state of sleep, with your heart rate and blood pressure slowing down significantly.
Every complete sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes, so people recommend sleeping for 7.5 or 9 hours to wake up feeling alert.
Don’t eat too much carbs before you sleep
While we know that eating too much of any food is a bad thing, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that night snacking causes your sleep quality to go down.
This might be because carbohydrates produce a protein called c-peptide, which creates insulin and helps your body to store nutrients. Unfortunately, c-peptide is also known to lower your levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.
(Also read: 8 Foods to Eat Before Bed for the Best Sleep Ever)
Get some sun
You might shy away from the sun, thinking it will make you more awake and that the harmful UV rays will age you. While the latter is true, the former is not. Having insufficient vitamin D can cause sleep problems and even daytime sleepiness. In serious cases, it even contributes to sleep disorders.
This cannot always be supplemented with vitamin D pills because for those who take them at night, it indicates to your body that it’s daytime, causing your melatonin levels to decrease. It is best to get sun exposure naturally (with SPF of course!) during non-peak hours, or through vitamin D supplements taken in the morning or afternoon.
(Also read: 8 Ways Your Bedroom is Ruining Your Sleep)
Build a natural circadian cycle
As mentioned, taking vitamin D pills does not replace the need to go outside. Your quality of sleep is affected by your natural circadian rhythms that indicate whether you should be awake or asleep. Instead of shunning the sun, avoid using electronics before you sleep. The blue light emitted is similar to sunlight, signalling to your body that it is daytime. This makes you more awake and again, decreases your melatonin production.
Go out in the day and limit your exposure to blue light at night. Your body will learn to fall asleep naturally over time.
Drink up, but not too much
Water is important, but drinking too much will cause you to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, disrupting your sleep cycle more than once. Start by avoid liquid consumption one to two hours before you sleep, and make sure you drink the right thing. Coffee and tea can increase your urge to pee, while alcohol makes you drowsy before keeping you up for longer.