Are you meeting your goal of seven to eight hours of sleep each night? (Credit: Getty Images)
Parents know sleep is crucial in a child's development, which is why they research tirelessly about sleep training, schedules and even body positions to ensure their baby can sleep well.
An underrated fact is that many tips about optimal baby sleep apply to adults as well. For example, a proper sleep routine is vital for toddlers since it helps their body clocks learn the right time to wake up, play and sleep. The benefits of a consistent sleep schedule also apply to adults.
Signs you are not sleeping well
Like kids, grown-ups benefit from a bedtime routine when going to sleep. So how can you tell if you're not reaching your sleep goal?
One of Asia's leading sleep scientists, Dr Michael Chee of Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, shares the signs of not getting enough sleep:
- Frequently feeling sleepy the next day
- Falling asleep when left alone in a quiet room
- Sleeping more than two hours extra on days when you don't have to wake up early
Bedtime routine for adults
The key, Dr Chee says, is to "ring-fence" your bedtime routine. Set aside time to wind down, understand the activities that will relax you and stick with the same schedule consistently until it becomes a habit.
If you're looking to get some quality sleep, here are a few tips for building a bedtime routine – the kind that gets you just one more hour of deep sleep.
1. Set up a bedtime schedule
Your goal is to get seven to eight hours of sleep. You turn on the alarm clock for wake-up time in the morning, right? Do the same for bedtime and stick to the same schedule every day.
The most helpful tool will be your phone's clock or health app. On an iPhone, for example, turning on the bedtime setting will dim the lock screen, and incoming calls and alerts will be silenced. You won't see the notifications on the screen until you unlock your phone.
2. Switch off digital screens
Try to reduce screen time before going to bed. (Credit: Getty Images)
Your phone's "do not disturb" mode serves as your cue to give your eyes a rest from digital screens – including social media. Experts recommend stopping screen time two to three hours before bed because the blue light from digital screens can wake you up.
If watching a movie or reading a novel on your tablet helps relax you, then put your phone or tablet in night mode.
3. Wind down with tea
Tea may help you sleep with the added health bonus from its antioxidant component. (Credit: Getty Images)
There are no definitive studies that say tea (or warm milk) will treat insomnia or improve sleep. But anecdotal evidence suggests it works.
Chamomile tea, which is said to have a calming effect, is a popular choice. But celebrity chef from the School of Wok, Jeremy Pang, prefers another herbal tea. "I really like fresh chrysanthemum tea to sleep like a baby."
4. Stretch on your bed
Stretching does wonders to melt the day's stress and loosen the tight muscles on your back. Get the most comfortable experience by stretching in bed – the softness of the mattress will cushion your moves as you twist, reach and bend.
5. Try lavender essential oil
There's a reason many beauty, bath and wellness products include lavender as an ingredient. Respected research has shown lavender essential oil can improve sleep quality. Many doctors recommend it to patients looking for natural sleep aids.
The most popular way to use lavender oil is via a diffuser – add a few drops to water and enjoy the scented vapor. While it can be applied topically, doctors warn that essential oils can irritate the skin. So, if you plan to use it as body oil, make sure it comes from a reputable source (like a brand with an ISO certification). This will ensure the right concentration and dilution of oil in the product.
These tips about how to sleep well are like first aid. However, they will work better if you know what keeps you up at night.
Dr Chee says an overactive mental state is one of the primary reasons people find it difficult to sleep. The Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School and Principal Investigator of the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab elaborates that specific sleep inhibitors can be "worrying about a family member, thinking of how to compose an email or pondering a challenging issue."
What do you worry about that keeps you up at night and prevents you from sleeping soundly? You can make a deliberate effort to disengage yourself from these concerns before bedtime and focus instead on a wind-down activity that relaxes you.
Read #OneMoreHour sleep tips from AIA, to help you live a healthier, longer, better life.
AIA. One more Hour: Who will you be when you wake up? [online] [Accessed on 28 July 2022]
Mayo Clinic. A guide to basic stretches. [online] [Accessed on 25 May 2022]
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Natural Sleep Aids: Home Remedies to Help You Sleep. [online] [Accessed on 25 May 2022]
American Academy of Ophthalmology. Should You Be Worried About Blue Light? [online] [Accessed on 25 May 2022]
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial. [online] [Accessed on 25 May 2022]
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work? [online] [Accessed on 25 May 2022]