Meet Diandra, a 28-year old manager working for a consulting firm, mother to two cats and only sees her friends during birthdays. She clocks in at 9am every morning, clocks out at 10pm and then continues to work from home from time to time. Being on-call almost all the time at night and hopping from meetings to meetings every day, she gets less productive during the day, and good sleep is considered a luxury for her.
Good sleep is often overlooked by many and neglecting this can lead to many health problems. Make time to go through the essentials needed and ways to improve sleeping habits. By following these basic steps, you could craft deep sleep patterns to have a fresher mind the next day. Besides, no one likes a grumpy face in the morning.
1. The 3 Rs For Sleep
Regular, rhythm and rest. If you are like Diandra, it’s important to have regular sleeping hours. As much as this is wishful thinking, trying is the first step. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimise the quality of your sleep.
This also means no sleeping in until the afternoon during weekends. We do understand how sometimes an hour or two with your close friends can lead up to painting the town red up to wee hours in the morning. Let’s say you find yourself sleeping at only 3am, then make sure you wake up before noon and avoid oversleeping.
2. The Sleep Multiples Of 90 Minutes Rule
Human beings have circadian biological rhythms (a.k.a. ‘body clocks’) that regulate the timing of sleepiness and wakefulness during the day and night. Every 90 minutes that you're asleep, you generally go through two periods of REM sleep. This means, if you want to get the most out of your sleeping hours, you'd want to sleep for hours in multiples of 90 minutes. For example, if you sleep at 11PM and have 6 hours of sleep, you’d set your alarm for 7AM.
3. Bed, My BFF
When you lie down for an extended period of time, the pressure reduces blood flow which deprives skin of oxygen and nutrients. Your ideal mattress should be able to reduce pressure points on the body for a good night’s rest. If you have back or neck problems, go for one that’s not too hard and not too soft. If your mattress is too hard, you will have too much pressure on your sacrum and shoulders.
There are all sorts of mattresses out there in the market so you may need to take into consideration your sleeping preference. If you like your bed with some bounce to it, then Innerspring type mattress may be suitable for you as the metal coils are typically thicker. For a firmer base, try our favourite, memory foam mattresses. The foam is generally from two to six inches thick, serving as a good support structure for the body. If you enjoy some buoyancy, opt for latex mattresses. It’s similar to memory foam models but has more spring-back.
4. Good Guy Magnesium
This nutrient plays a vital role to regulate sleep. Insomnia is among the few symptoms of magnesium deficiency, and a 2006 analysis in the journal Medical Hypothesis indicates that such a deficiency may even be the cause of most mental health problems. Stock up on magnesium by adding beans, nuts, leafy greens and whole grain to your food intake for a good night’s rest!
5. The Sleeping Swan Bed Stretch
Sometimes, you just need that gentle restorative yoga to help put your mind at ease. Sit on the bed with a pillow in front of you. Bend your left knee and bring the sole of the left foot to the right inner thigh area followed by extending the right leg behind you. Stay centred and gently move forward using your hips facing the pillow. Extend your arms forward. Hold for ten seconds and then switch legs. Repeat 5 times.
6. Better Sleep in the Digital Age
Just when you think apps are only for entertainment purposes, innovation takes a step forward for mankind – well at least for Diandra and others who share similar lifestyles. Download a sleep app to help track and monitor your sleep patterns. If a fitness band is out of the price range for you, there are tons of free sleep apps on the App store or Play store. Our top pick will be the ever-popular Sleep Cycle. This app leverages on the accelerometer in iPhones that can detect your movement. If you go for a 20-minute wakeup phase and your alarm is set for 8AM, when the app feels strong movements at 7.50AM indicating that you’re going through a ‘light sleep’ phase, you’d be woken up then. This way, it’s better than it waking you up at 8AM while you’re in the ‘deep sleep’ stage.
7. Go Au Naturel
Coffee keeps you awake and so does nicotine in cigarettes. Stay clear of these stimulants at least 8 hours before sleeping. If you are very susceptible to caffeine, avoid tea too. Here are some natural stimulants to calm the body down for a good night’s rest. Apply some lavender onto bedsheets and pillows as lavender scents has been proven to help your body relax. If lavender isn’t your favourite, try Lemon Balm, Rose, Valerian or Chamomile essential oils. If you’re adventurous, try a combination of scents. That way, your body is fully prepared to sleep properly for a more productive next day.
A night of deep, quality sleep is one of the keys to sustaining your energy levels for the next day. Like Diandra, our busy work and life schedule might not allow us the luxury of having 8 full hours of sleep every night, but hopefully with these tips you will be able to elevate your quality of rest. After all, it’s the little changes that count to the big picture.
Carskadon, M.A., & Dement, W.C. (2011). Principles and practice of sleep medicine. Turek, F. W., & Zee, P. C. (Eds.). (1999). Regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms. Night School by Richard Wiseman (2014) National Sleep Foundation. Sleep Facts and Stats; Healthy Sleep Tips. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/. National Sleep Foundation; https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/smell.php
The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.