Getting a good night rest sounds easy, but is a challenge for many. Roughly 15.3 per cent of Singaporeans reported suffering from insomnia, which happens at least three times a week for more than three months.
Insomnia is categorised as “difficulty initiating sleep, maintaining sleep, or an early morning awakening, resulting in socio-occupational impairments”. While it is difficult to treat insomnia through an article, Yahoo Life SEA has compiled a list of five different actions you have been doing unknowingly that sabotaged your rest and what to do instead.
1. Late night snacking
Research has found that eating within two hours of bedtime can cause harmful effects to sleep quality, especially in women. This is because digestion slows down while you are sleeping, and having large amounts of food before bed can cause indigestion, making it harder to stay asleep.
However, we all know it is especially challenging to go to sleep hungry. Hence, instead of consuming a full meal near bedtime, melatonin-promoting foods such as cherries, honey, and almonds are recommended.
2. Caffeine within eight hours before bed
Caffeine and its effects can last six to eight hours within a human’s body, and cutting caffeine at least eight hours before sleep can aid you in getting that well-rested sleep at night. Not just found in coffee, caffeine is present in tea, energy drinks, and some soda drinks.
Instead, swap your late afternoon caffeinated drinks for sleep-inducing ones such as chamomile tea, cherry juice, or simply, water. It is also important to note that you should not consume too much water before bed as you will be awakened with the need to urinate during the night.
3. Using electronic devices
In a world as connected as ours, many of us are on our phones, laptops, or watching the TV until it is lights out. Research has shown that being exposed to the blue and white light from electronic devices at night prevents melatonin, a hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle, from releasing, thus affecting our sleep.
Put away your electronic gadgets at least an hour before sleep. Instead, pick up a book for some light reading before bedtime.
4. Drinking alcohol
For some, drinking alcohol makes them sleepy. However, this sleepiness is only good for a short period of time, as alcohol affects your ability to stay asleep. While most will experience “deeper-than-usual sleep in the first half of the night,” it is “followed by disrupted sleep in the second half of the night.”
Instead of that nightcap, especially on weeknights where you have work the next day, drink calming lavender tea or warm milk to facilitate better sleep throughout the night.
Sneaking in a 30-minute exercise before bed might be the only time you get to work out on a busy day, but it brings more harm than good for your sleep routine. Strenuous exercises will cause your body temperature to rise, and pumping up your heart rate will make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to exercise instead. Giving your body the energy boost to start the day, your body will also produce endorphins that will improve your mood and prepare you for work.