Sleep care / 28 Nov, 2019

Eight steps to a better sleep

Dr Goh Lit Ching

Insomnia and sleep hygiene

Insomnia is a condition which is characterised by intense difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep.

Symptoms of insomnia

Symptoms of chronic insomnia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood disturbances
  • Decreased performance in work or at school.

Steps to better sleep hygiene

1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule

It’s important to maintain a regular routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and being consistent on both weekdays and weekends. If you fail to fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing like reading or listening to music, going back to bed when you’re tired (repeating as needed).

2.Avoid heavy meals before sleep

To prevent bloating and discomfort when going to bed, ensure you do not consume heavy or large meals for at least three hours beforehand.

3. Avoid caffeinated drinks before sleep

The stimulating effects of caffeine can last for several hours after consumption. Ideally, avoid caffeinated drinks after midday to prevent residual stimulating effects at night.

4. Avoid large amounts of alcohol before bed

Drinking alcohol can cause difficulties in sustaining sleep throughout the night. Moderation is key.

5. Create a pleasant sleep environment

Cool, dark and quiet rooms are ideal for sleep, so ensuring your bedroom reflects these qualities is very important. Avoid prolonged exposure to light emitting screens, such as computer or TV screens, in the hour before you go to bed. You may consider using ear plugs or eye masks as needed to create an environment suitable for sleep, and undertaking activities such as taking a bath to relax.

6. Avoid napping during the day

Napping during the day can interfere with your sleep at night. If unavoidable, try to limit to 30 minutes a day.

7. Boost your health through regular physical activity

Physical activity not only helps improve your health in general, but can also positively influence your sleep. Light to moderate aerobic activities such as jogging, swimming and cycling are beneficial for cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of insomnia-related conditions.

8. Ensure good stress management

By getting organised and setting priorities, this can reduce any unnecessary worry that may be experienced while going to sleep. Consider delegating non-urgent tasks and setting them aside for the next day. Talking therapy is often beneficial, and counselling sessions can assist if you find stress and anxiety are significantly impacting your sleep.

Ultimately, it’s important to talk to your doctors and healthcare providers for follow up advice and care.

References

For a full list of references, click here.
  1. National Sleep Foundation. (2019). Insomnia. Retrieved on 21 November 2019 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-causes-insomnia
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2016). Insomnia. Retrieved on 21 November 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167
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