World Sleep Day: A specialist shares how to practise better sleep hygiene
Get your beauty sleep
World Sleep Day is observed annually on 17 March, and though we all know that catching up on our beauty sleep is essential, some of us still struggle to fall asleep before midnight. Practising good sleep hygiene is essential for our overall well-being, as well as maintaining healthy brain function, improving our mood, and enhancing our physical health.
To commemorate this day that’s dedicated to promoting the importance of healthy sleep and raising awareness about sleep disorders, we turned to internal medicine and sleep disorder specialist, Dr Nurul Yaqeen Mohd Esa from Sunway Medical Centre Velocity, to share her insights on how we can improve our sleep hygiene.
Based on your insights, what does the typical Malaysian sleep hygiene routine look like?
The typical Malaysian’s sleep hygiene is not good. Usually, they have an irregular sleep schedule, and many of them have difficulties falling asleep as they like to look at their smartphones before going to bed. It’s been proven that the blue light emitted from our gadgets will suppress our melatonin hormone, thereby causing us to have difficulty sleeping, even though we feel really tired.
There are times when we are physically tired but yet, we’re unable to fall asleep. Is this a normal phenomenon and why?
This is a very common phenomenon. Again, it’s typically due to our unhealthy sleep habits of looking at our gadgets before going to sleep and drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea near bedtime. Caffeine delays the production of melatonin, the chemical that’s responsible for helping us fall asleep in our brain; therefore, even though we feel very tired, we can have difficulty falling asleep.
Is it true that taking short naps can help us “catch up” on sleep? Or does it have a different effect?
Yes, having short naps can help us “catch up” on sleep, but it is not the same as having six to seven hours of quality sleep at night. That being said, short naps do help you feel refreshed during the daytime, especially for those who like to stay up at night or for those who get inadequate sleep at night.
Can one’s weight affect sleep quality?
Of course, research has shown that people who are overweight tend to have an “obstructive sleep apnea” problem that comes with symptoms such as loud snoring and episodes where breathing is momentarily cut off. These issues can disturb sleep quality and become a serious medical condition for some.
How does the temperature of the bedroom affect your sleep?
If your bedroom temperature is too hot or too cold, it can impair your sleep quality. Hence, it is important to make sure that we are able to adjust our room temperature so it will not be too cold or too hot. (Fun fact: Research shows that your room should be between 15.6 and 19.4 degrees Celsius for healthy sleep.)
Should one invest in a quality mattress for better sleep hygiene?
Absolutely, a good-quality mattress can help to improve sleep quality and ensure optimal daytime function the next day. It can help with improving the spine contour since our posture plays a role as well.
What are your tried and tested tips for getting quality sleep?
Here are some habits you can practice to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends. This is important to regulate your body clock, AKA circadian rhythm.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
- Remove electronic devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, from your reach. This is important as the blue light emitted from those gadgets can suppress the melatonin hormone which is important for quality sleep.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol four to six hours before bedtime as active digestive activities can hinder your sleep.
- Get some exercise during the day because that can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
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