If you don’t snooze, you lose: Sleep better to improve your health
With World Sleep Day on March 19, it is time to remind ourselves how we should continue to prioritise our sleep to achieve an optimal quality of life.
Getting our eight hours of quality sleep every night is important as adequate sleep and regular sleep patterns help rejuvenate our mood regulation, cognitive function and overall health.
According to US consumer electronics and fitness company Fitbit's data, Singaporeans slept more last year.
However, we still had one of the lowest sleep durations in the region.
Fitbit recommends five ways to get better quality shut-eye.
Power nap like a pro
If you are struggling to stay focused during the day, consider napping to gain some additional sleep-related benefits.
The optimal duration of a nap is anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. It can offer a variety of health benefits from increased alertness, better endurance, increased creativity and a lowered risk of heart disease.
The ideal time for a power nap is usually between 1 to 3 pm.
If you are unable to do so, it is best to push through and wait for your bedtime, as napping too close to bedtime can impact your nightly sleep.
Clear the air
A recent study found that when people slept in rooms with fresh air circulating - either with an open window or open door - their sleep improved as they woke up fewer times each night.
As carbon dioxide levels in the room were lower, people slept more soundly, and their awakenings decreased.
They also felt better rested the next morning with improved concentration levels. This may be because ventilated rooms are likely to contain more oxygen, which may be linked to better cognition.
Hold off on snacking before bedtime
Eating or drinking too close to bedtime can focus your body on digestion, not sleeping. If you have a consistent body rhythm of eating dinner at 6pm and having a snack at 8pm, your body may think that it is not time for it to shut down yet.
If you can, avoid eating for two hours before your bedtime.
Take a shower
Showering is relaxing and lowers your body temperature, signalling it is time for bed. Falling core body temperature is associated with rises in melatonin levels in the body, which facilitates our transition to sleep and promotes consistent, quality rest.
To encourage your body temperature to drop even more, try cooling down the air in your bedroom with a fan or simply by opening a window.
Create your ideal sleep sanctuary
Your environment can impact your sleep, so sleep in total blackness and silence (an eye mask and earplugs can help).
The optimal bedroom temperature for quality sleep is between 15 deg C to 21 deg C. If there are noises in your environment you are unable to control (like loud neighbours or street noise), use a white noise machine to drown out disruptive noises.