Good habits for better sleep
Studies have shown that Singaporeans are sleep deprived. Here are some tips for you to get a good night's rest.
Listen to your body
It's all 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 Applied Cognitive Psychology, this is because the feeling of refreshment is not 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 cycle lasts around 90 minutes, so people recommend sleeping 71/2 hours to wake up feeling alert.
Don't eat too much carbs before you sleep
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that night snacking causes sleep quality to go down.
This might be because carbohydrates produce a protein called C-peptide, which creates insulin and helps the body store nutrients. Unfortunately, C-peptide is known to lower your levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.
Get some sun
Having insufficient vitamin D can cause sleep problems and 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 the body that it is daytime, causing your melatonin levels to decrease.
It is best to get sun exposure naturally - with sunscreen of course - during non-peak hours, or through vitamin D supplements taken in the morning or afternoon.
Build a natural circadian cycle
Your quality of sleep is affected by your natural circadian rhythm that indicates whether you should be awake or asleep.
Avoid using electronics before bedtime. The blue light emitted is similar to sunlight, signalling to the body that it is daytime. This makes you more awake and decreases melatonin production.
Drink up but not too much
Start by avoiding 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.
This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)