The Truth about a Good Night Sleep
Singapore is one of the most sleep deprived nations in the world with almost 8 to 10 Singaporeans spending their weekends trying to repay their sleep debt. But can that actually work?
SLEEP ON THIS
Good quality sleep is important to our health and overall well-being. Sleep experts recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night to support our body’s optimum functioning.
Here are five great reasons to make sure your body gets the slumber time it needs:
✔ A Sharper Brain - Better mental focus and memory
✔ Mood Boost – Your brain processes emotions while you sleep. This allows your mind to recognize emotions and react to them in the right way during waking hours. Chronic lack of sleep also raises the incidence rate of mood disorders. A large study has shown that insomnia sufferers are five times more likely to develop depression and anxiety/panic disorders.
✔ Healthier Heart – Our blood pressure goes down while we sleep, giving our heart and blood vessels a bit of rest time after all the hard work through the day.
✔ Steadier Blood Sugar levels - The amount of glucose in our blood drops during the deep, slow-wave part of our sleep cycle. Allowing our body to reach and remain in this deep sleep state, have been linked to a reduced likelihood in getting type 2 diabetes.
✔ Keep Immune Cells “On Point” - Our immune system is our body’s natural defense against harmful bacteria and viruses. Chronic lack of sleep can affect immune cells, resulting in them not attacking harmful pathogens as quickly – meaning more sick days and longer time needed for recovery.
Sleep Myths versus Sleep Facts
Here are 8 myths/facts about sleep that we thought you should know!
False. When you don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep on a daily basis, you start accumulating a sleep
debt that can become difficult to ‘pay back’. This results in a sleep deprivation that can affect how you function during the day,
causing a slew of problems such as daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, short-term memory, anxiety and irritability.
Insufficient sleep can also cause other long-term health consequences such as obesity and high blood pressure.
The best way to make up for lost sleep is to ensure that you are meeting your individual sleep needs of 7-9 hours a night.
True with a big “BUT”. Alcohol may leave you feeling drowsy and help you fall asleep faster, but it comes with poorer quality of sleep. Alcohol produces adenosine (a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain), allowing faster onset of sleep,
however it is also known to cause the chemical to subside before you enter into the deeper,
more important phase of REM sleep. REM sleep is the phase that is vital for memory storage,
learning, processing of information and stress management. The lesser the time spent in REM sleep,
the greater the decrease in concentration and trouble with recalling information.
Furthermore, alcohol is a diuretic, which simply means you might need to wake up frequently over the night to make bathroom trips. Needless to say, this interrupts our body’s normal sleep pattern. Thus, while alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, it does not result in the quality sleep that your body needs.
False. Watching TV is probably one of the most common ways for stress relief and relaxation after a hectic and grueling day.
However, TV may not be your best friend if your ultimate goal is to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Watching TV actually robs people of precious sleep time. It is all too common to hear of friends and colleagues lamenting how tired they feel the next day, because they stayed up the night before to chase yet another episode of their favorite k-drama.
The light emitted from TV screens and other electronic devices can also trigger your brain to believe that it is daytime and to stop producing melatonin. The blue light emitted from electronic devices can also delay REM sleep, affecting the intrinsic quality of your sleep.
To aim for a good night’s rest, try avoiding any electronic devices at least 1 hour before your bedtime. Wind down by reading a book or listening to some relaxing music instead!
True. Napping for around 20 minutes in the day can help you feel refreshed, more alert and energetic. It is important to ensure that the naps are kept to 10 to 20 minutes as the longer you nap, the deeper the sleep you go into, making it difficult for you to wake up after. However, do take into consideration the time of your nap as napping after 3pm can also interfere with your sleep at night.
False. The couch may be comfortable to lounge on but it was not designed to be slept on.
The ideal sleeping surface should give you the freedom to move and sleep in whatever position you desire while giving support to your spine.
Many couches are much softer than mattresses, which mean they lack the kind of structural support to evenly distribute your weight and support your back.
Without proper support, the chance of waking up with a sore neck or backache increases.
The material and location of your couch may also not be the most suitable to allow for restful uninterrupted slumber throughout the night.
False. While it is true that children need more sleep than adults; it does not mean that we need less sleep as we get older.
Young adults, adults and senior adults require the same 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Unfortunately, many older adults often get less sleep than they need, due to the inability to fall asleep at night or sleep as deeply as they used to. Because of this, it is widely assumed that seniors do not need as much sleep. However, the difficulty in falling asleep is more likely due to changes in their body, which affects the body’s production of melatonin. This might be coupled with increased sensitivity to environment factors, such as being more sensitive to noise or light as the person age.
Many people believe that poor sleep is part and parcel of ageing but in actual fact, it’s not. Your sleep patterns and ability to sleep might change but it is still important to get sufficient sleep.
True. Your body rests during sleep, however your brain remains highly active. It powers your dreams, relaxes you, locks in what you’ve learnt, preserves memories and helps protect you against illnesses. All these require time to complete, it is therefore important to have a consistent sleep schedule each night.
True. The lack of sleep sets your body up to make bad decisions.
It dulls the frontal lobe of the brain which is the epicenter of decision making and impulse control.
When you are tired, the reward center of your brain revs up and that can alter the way your body responds to food, making you crave for more junk food.
Additionally, the lack of sleep also triggers your stress hormones to conserve more energy to fuel your waking hours causing your body to hang on to more fat.