Improve sleep duration and quality by developing good sleep hygiene practices. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Sleeping may seem like a period of inactivity for your body and mind. But sleep is a dynamic state where your brain and body are busy with repair and regeneration – making sleep hygiene vital for your health.
Sleep hygiene is a set of good habits that help enhance sleep duration and quality, with excellent benefits for the brain and body. It enables you to fall asleep quickly and sleep well.
With enough good quality rest, you can wake up feeling refreshed, energised and alert, enabling you to be at your best during the day.
Sleep hygiene practices for better health
Maintaining a regular sleep routine is a great way to improve your sleeping habits. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Studies suggest that sleep can help boost your immunity, contribute to longevity, and enrich your overall quality of life.
In young children and adolescents, sleep is crucial for growth. In deep sleep, the body also increases the production of proteins needed for cell growth and repair. Sleep also aids the nervous system functions, affecting thinking, memory and performance. In addition, it helps maintain a robust immune system to protect you from infections.
Getting a good night's rest – or at least #OneMoreHour of sleep – delivers many health benefits. Here are 10 ways to develop sleep hygiene practices to improve sleep health.
1. Develop a consistent sleep schedule
Get up and go to sleep at the same time, even on weekends and holidays. This helps your body's circadian rhythm determine your sleep and wakefulness schedule.
2. Avoid napping during the day
Napping provides positive benefits such as improved mood and energy levels, but the American Sleep Association states that naps can "decrease the sleep debt necessary for easy sleep onset."
3. Exercise regularly
Working out during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. But avoid exercising too close to bedtime. It can delay the onset of sleep due to a rush of endorphins in the body.
4. Limit caffeine intake
Too much caffeine, which can come from sodas, certain teas, and coffee, can disrupt your body's internal clock and keep you awake at night. So, avoid caffeine late afternoon and evening, especially if you're sensitive to even small amounts.
5. Avoid oversized meals before bedtime
Give your body time to digest a heavy meal to avoid disrupting your body's circadian rhythm. Limit fluid intake, too, so you don't keep waking up to go to the bathroom, which can make it difficult to go back to sleep.
6. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom
Blue light from gadgets can affect your body's internal clock and disrupt sleep. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Watching shows, reading in bed, or working in your bedroom trains your brain to associate it with work and play instead of rest. Blue light from screens can also stimulate your brain and keep you wide awake.
7. Make your bedroom a relaxing and quiet place
Dim your lights to signal your body it's time to sleep. Keeping your bedroom dark, quiet and cool helps promote a good night's rest.
8. Establish a calming routine before bedtime
Soothing night-time routines – such as drinking caffeine-free herbal teas like chamomile or lavender, taking a warm bath, and meditating – can help you relax and unwind after a long day.
9. Clear your mind before bed
A 2018 study published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General found that participants who wrote down a detailed to-do list at bedtime fell asleep faster than those who journaled about completed tasks. So, if your mind is preoccupied with the things you still need to do, write them down. It may help make you feel more prepared for the next day.
10. Don't lie in bed when you can't sleep
Lying in bed can make you associate bed with wakefulness when you have insomnia or anxiety. Do something soothing like reading in another room for a few minutes until you feel sleepy. Then go to bed and try again.
This is one way to strengthen the bed and bedroom as cues for sleep – behavioural treatment for insomnia pioneered by clinical and research psychologist Richard R. Bootzin. If you have difficulty falling asleep, this can help establish a more consistent sleep-wake schedule.
Sleep: An essential biological function
Getting quality sleep helps you feel refreshed, energised and ready to take on whatever comes your way. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Your sleep hygiene is vital to your sleep health, which is affected by the amount and quality of your sleep. Guidelines also show the amount of sleep necessary changes as you age.
Sleep experts worldwide recommend a range of seven to nine hours for adults, while children and adolescents require more to help them grow. (It is best to discuss your child's sleep with the paediatrician.)
Sleep quality and timing are equally important in delivering the necessary benefits for optimal health.
If you have a sleep disorder, your sleep hygiene may look different, so it is best to consult with your medical health practitioner. You can also check out AIA Vitality, a comprehensive wellness programme that promotes holistic health. Its tools, rewards, and community can help you eat well, stay active, and get started on the path to better sleep.
For more sleep tips, read #OneMoreHour to help you live a healthier, longer, better life.
What can you do if you're sleep-deprived? In this episode of AIA Voices, Kate Yan, one of China's leading psychotherapists, shares tips to improve your sleeping habits.
AIA Voices is a community of influential and educational voices from around Asia to talk about life, health and wellness. A platform to educate, motivate and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes on their health and wellness journey. Providing an opportunity for communities across Asia to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Designed to drive AIA One Billion, our ambition to engage a billion people to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030.
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