Singaporeans live a high-stress life that can leave us exhausted and unable to sleep.It can become a vicious cycle where insomnia leads to more stress and anxiety, thereby worsening your insomnia.
Here are some factors that lead to Singaporeans sleeping poorly:
Revenge bedtime procrastination
Ever heard of “revenge bedtime procrastination”? It comes from the Chinese term “报复性熬夜”, describing a phenomenon of workers from China who stay up late to get some freedom over their leisure time.
Because of the stresses that come with work, Singaporeans can end up falling into the same trap.
Eating and drinking too much
One of the best things about Singapore is the cuisine. We socialise by going for meals or drinks.
Let’s say you enjoy drinking bubble tea. It might seem innocuous but it can actually affect your sleep as black tea used in milk tea drinks can contain caffeine. It’s the same with cola-styled soft drinks which have caffeine in them.
Alcohol is even more deceiving. The next time you hit the bars at Clarke Quay, at home, at the officer’s mess or at your local hawker centre, take note that alcohol might make you feel sleepy but can also cause you to be unable to sleep!
Hot tropical weather, bad sleep
Have you noticed that the weather in Singapore has been getting hotter?
That’s a problem because we are all used to sleeping within a specific temperature range.
If the temperature gets too hot, you might not be able to be comfortable with a fan. A fan can only cool the body if the ambient temperature is below a certain temperature. If not, it will actually heat your body up!
9 tips to fix insomnia
Sleep is fragile. Many factors can contribute to poor sleep; studies have shown medications can only at best provide short-term help.
Here at SIRE, we believe building resilience through various ways to protect our sleep is the way to go.
Here we share our top tips for a better night of rest:
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
Having a consistent bedtime and wake time leads to more regular sleep schedules and avoids periods of sleep deprivation or periods of extended wakefulness during the night. Begin by getting up at the same time in the morning regardless of how much sleep was obtained.
2. Exercise regularly, but not too late in the day
Daytime physical activity is encouraged, in particular, 4-6 hours before bedtime, as this may facilitate sleep onset. However, vigorous exercise within 2 hours of bedtime is discouraged.
3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
Avoid caffeine after lunch. Caffeine requires about 10-14 hours to be cleared from the body. The time window between lunch and bedtime allows caffeine to be out of the body before bedtime.
Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided near bedtime and at night.
4. Avoid alcohol before bed
Alcohol taken is initially sedating to the body, but as it gets broken down there is a potential stimulating effect. Alcohol also negatively impacts sleep architecture – this can result in a poorer quality of sleep.
5. Avoid large meals at night
Avoid a large meal near bedtime, but don’t go to bed hungry. Eat a healthy and filling meal in the evening and avoid late-night snacks.
6. Avoid taking naps
Avoid napping, especially naps lasting longer than 1 hour and naps late in the day (after 3pm).
7. Relax before bed
Acquiring strategies to manage anxiety or other psychological concerns can resolve underlying causes of insomnia.
Psychologists and counsellors are readily available to help you work through issues and equip you with the necessary relaxation skills and coping techniques.
Relaxation exercises through progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness and meditation can be practised 1-2 hours before bedtime.
8. Dark, cool and gadget-free bedroom
Noise and light exposure during the night can disrupt sleep.
White noise or ear plugs are often recommended to reduce noise. Using blackout shades or an eye mask is commonly recommended to reduce light.
This may also include avoiding exposure to television or technology near bedtime as this can have an impact on circadian rhythms by shifting sleep timing earlier.
Avoid checking the time at night. This includes alarm clocks and other time pieces (e.g. watches and smartphones). Checking the time increases cognitive arousal and prolongs wakefulness.
9. Don’t lie in bed awake
Go to bed only when sleepy. Use the bed and bedroom only for sleep (and sex). If you are in bed and unable to sleep, get out of bed and return only when sleep. Typically, this is within 20 minutes.
There is just no quick fix for insomnia. A good night of rest restores and recharges physically, emotionally and mentally. Disrupted sleep is often a result of multiple contributing factors; always seek professional help when required.