Importance of Sleep

Just how much should you be sleeping every day? How to  get a good night's sleep?
If you think that sleep is just a period of inactivity, think again. Our nightly shut-eye allows our brains to consolidate our learning and memory so we can perform tasks better the next day[1]. When we have enough sleep, we are less likely to overeat and crave junk, and we make wiser food choices[2].

If you've ever been sleep-deprived, you would have noticed your inability to concentrate, slow responses, impulsive decision-making1 and even felt easily annoyed[3]. Not to forget those dark eye circles that refuse to budge.

Perhaps sleeping in on the weekends could make you feel better, but what's lost is lost. Two days of better rest cannot compensate for a week's worth of impaired performance.

Related: Sleep Well, Live Better

What Is Considered Good Sleep?

The quantity and quality of sleep determine whether you wake up feeling energized or like a walking zombie. 

Related: Are You Getting Quality Sleep?

Do's

Sleep for At Least 7 Hours Daily

Depending on your age, the optimal sleep duration varies. If you are above 18 years old, strive to get at least 7 hours of sleep. See the recommended sleep duration for different age groups below[4].

Have a Short Nap for Some Energy Booster

Taking a short nap (e.g. averaging 10 to 20-minutes[5]) in the afternoon can help recharge your energy level and boost your daytime productivity. Make sure to time it right, taking a nap too close to bedtime can interrupt your nighttime sleep[6]

Get Active

Exercise regularly as physical activity can help you sleep better[7].

Relax your Muscles

Release the tension in your body[8] to help you sleep better.

Try some simple muscle relaxation exercises here.

Follow a Bedtime Routine

Wind down from the chaos of the day by calming your senses. Grab a book, take a warm bath, or listen to some soothing music. A consistent routine can signal your body to sleep at the same time daily[9]

Related: Sleep Deprivation

Listen to Relaxing Music

Relaxing music can calm your mind[10] and cue your body for some shuteye. 

Turn on Your Phone's Blue Light Filter

The night mode function filters out blue light, which inhibits your brain from producing sleep-inducing hormones[11].

Keep your Sleep Environment Comfortable

Dim or switch off the lights in your room - consider using blackout curtains or eye masks to help block out external lights. 

You can also consider using earplugs to remove noise distractions for better sleep.

Don'ts

Avoid Starving or Heavy Meals Before Sleep

It's hard to sleep when your stomach is rumbling. Eat a couple of hours before sleep, or have a glass of milk before heading to bed. A big dinner may cause discomfort, keeping us wide awake[12]. Also, avoid satiating hunger pangs before bed with large meals11. Instead, have light and healthy snacks like low-fat yoghurt, a cup of milk[13], or a serving of fruit[14]

Avoid Caffeine or Alcohol At Night

There's a reason why we drink coffee in the morning – it is a stimulant that promotes wakefulness[15]. While alcohol may make you drowsy, it impacts the quality of your sleep[16].


Avoid Using Electronics 30 minutes Before Bedtime[17] 

Using electronic devices (such as your handphone) before bedtime stimulates your mind, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Keep them away at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.


An Additional Tip!

Keep receiving late-night messages from your friends? Try sharing these goodnight stickers to remind them to sleep as well as practise good sleep habits!

Download these adorable stickers here.

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References

[1] Stickgold, R., James, L., & Hobson, J. A. (2000). Visual discrimination learning requires sleep after training. Nature Neuroscience3(12), 1237–1238. https://doi.org/10.1038/81756

[2] Greer, S. M., Goldstein, A. N., & Walker, M. P. (2013). The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications4, 2259. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms3259

[3] Tomaso, C. C., Johnson, A. B., & Nelson, T. D. (2021). The effect of sleep deprivation and restriction on mood, emotion, and emotion regulation: Three meta-analyses in one. Sleep44(6), zsaa289. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsaa289

[4] Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., Hazen, N., Herman, J., Katz, E. S., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Neubauer, D. N., O'Donnell, A. E., Ohayon, M., Peever, J., Rawding, R., Sachdeva, R. C., Setters, B., Vitiello, M. V., Ware, J. C., & Adams Hillard, P. J. (2015). National Sleep Foundation's sleep time duration recommendations: Methodology and results summary. Sleep Health1(1), 40–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010

[5] Brooks, A., & Lack, L. (2006). A brief afternoon nap following nocturnal sleep restriction: Which nap duration is most recuperative?. Sleep29(6), 831–840. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/29.6.831

[6] Slama, H., Deliens, G., Schmitz, R., Peigneux, P., & Leproult, R. (2015). Afternoon nap and bright light exposure improve cognitive flexibility post lunch. PloS One10(5), e0125359. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0125359

[7]Kline C. E. (2014). The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. American journal of lifestyle medicine8(6), 375–379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614544437

[8] Tomba, E., Belaise, C., Ottolini, F., Ruini, C., Bravi, A., Albieri, E., Rafanelli, C., Caffo, E., & Fava, G. A. (2010). Differential effects of well-being promoting and anxiety-management strategies in a non-clinical school setting. Journal of Anxiety Disorders24(3), 326–333. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.01.005

[9] Buysse, D. J., Cheng, Y., Germain, A., Moul, D. E., Franzen, P. L., Fletcher, M., & Monk, T. H. (2010). Night-to-night sleep variability in older adults with and without chronic insomnia. Sleep Medicine11(1), 56–64.

[10] Koelsch, S., Fuermetz, J., Sack, U., Bauer, K., Hohenadel, M., Wiegel, M., Kaisers, U. X., & Heinke, W. (2011). Effects of music listening on cortisol levels and propofol consumption during spinal anesthesia. Frontiers in Psychology2, 58. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00058

[11] Lockley, S. W., Brainard, G. C., & Czeisler, C. A. (2003). High sensitivity of the human circadian melatonin rhythm to resetting by short wavelength light. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism88(9), 4502–4505. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030570

[12] Chung, N., Bin, Y. S., Cistulli, P. A., & Chow, C. M. (2020). Does the proximity of meals to bedtime influence the sleep of young adults? A cross-sectional survey of university students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health17(8), 2677. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082677

[13] Komada, Y., Okajima, I., & Kuwata, T. (2020). The effects of milk and dairy products on sleep: A systematic review. International Journal Of Environmental Research and Public Health17(24), 9440. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249440

[14] Noorwali, E., Hardie, L., & Cade, J. (2019). Bridging the reciprocal gap between sleep and fruit and vegetable consumption: A review of the evidence, potential mechanisms, implications, and directions for future work. Nutrients11(6), 1382. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061382

[15] Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine9(11), 1195–1200. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3170

[16] Park, S. Y., Oh, M. K., Lee, B. S., Kim, H. G., Lee, W. J., Lee, J. H., Lim, J. T., & Kim, J. Y. (2015). The Effects of Alcohol on Quality of Sleep. Korean Journal of Family Medicine36(6), 294–299. https://doi.org/10.4082/kjfm.2015.36.6.294

[17] He, J. W., Tu, Z. H., Xiao, L., Su, T., & Tang, Y. X. (2020). Effect of restricting bedtime mobile phone use on sleep, arousal, mood, and working memory: A randomized pilot trial. PloS one15(2), e0228756. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228756


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