Feeling exceptionally sluggish today? Perhaps you were burning the midnight oil trying to finish an urgent project. Or maybe you were up past your bed time scrolling through an endless barrage of social media posts on your mobile device. Before you toss out your alarm clock over the weekend to sleep in, consider this: doing so doesn’t actually compensate for the hours of sleep you’ve missed out on. What matters more is having a consistent sleep cycle.
With nearly 44 percent of Singaporean adults suffering from sleep deprivation—and getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night—this is a growing concern that begs closer examination. As such, sleep is one of the key areas to be examined in the upcoming Active Health initiative, so that Singaporeans can learn the best ways to ensure they achieve quality sleep.
Some may think that they can cope with little sleep, but it plays an important role in our physical health. Sleep allows our body to recuperate and recover, and is key in preventing diseases and enhancing longevity. For instance, the risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, and depression, increases significantly under sleep deprivation. On the other hand, getting enough sleep can support healthier behavior, such as regular physical activity and better eating habits.
Sleep also improves energy levels and decreases stress, which helps us make better decisions and feel less irritable. A good night’s sleep decreases stress hormones like cortisol, as well as blood sugar levels, both of which could help in weight loss.
Beyond physical benefits, getting enough sleep also offers cognitive advantages. This means a boost in creativity, better decision-making, a sharper memory and improved concentration. The conclusion is clear: performing at our peak is impossible without enough rest.
While poor sleeping habits can be difficult to kick, we can take small but significant steps to ensure both adequate and quality sleep:
1. Turn off all alerts on your phone when going to bed
On top of just falling asleep, it is important to ensure that you can stay asleep without disturbances. The buzzing of your mobile phone from a call, or even a short message alert, can jolt your brain awake, preventing you from achieving restful and uninterrupted sleep.
2. Wake up at the same time every day
Our body clock is influenced by the time we wake up in the morning. Deviations greater than one hour in our usual sleep routine can result in sleep inertia, a state of grogginess akin to switching time zones. That is why some of us feel perpetually tired, even after sleeping in over the weekend.
3. Avoid consuming caffeine after 2PM
Caffeine stays in our system for a minimum of six hours, which is why it is important that we try to avoid caffeine after 2pm. Not only will this prevent insomnia and improve quality of sleep, but this can also help prevent excessive caffeine consumption.
4. Be in bed at least 7.5 hours before waking up the next day
A minimum of seven hours of sleep is required every day. By giving yourself 20 to 30 minutes to wind down before falling asleep, you’ll find it easier to achieve the recommended amount of sleep each night.