Getting a Good Night's Rest

By Desiree Yang

Everyone knows that nothing beats retreating into the comfort of one’s bed for a good night’s rest after a long day at work. But what happens when the eight hours of sleep you get leaves you feeling just as exhausted as you were before you fell asleep? Derk-Jan Dijk, a professor of sleep and physiology at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, UK, says that it is the quality of sleep rather than the quantity that determines how refreshed you feel. It’s also worth noting that there’s no optimal number of hours of sleep as sleep needs vary from person to person.

Factors such as individual health and lifestyle can play quite a large role in influencing individual sleep needs, hence explaining why some people are still tired after getting eight hours of sleep. Going to work with insufficient sleep has many negative repercussions on one’s work performance, including reduced alertness, impaired cognitive ability, problem-solving skills and memory, moodiness and irritability. Fortunately, there are some simple changes that people can make to their daily routine to ensure that they get a night of quality sleep and remain energised throughout the day.

Reduce Exposure to Light at Night

Whether its light from the television, the lamp in your room or your phone, exposure to light of any kind when preparing for bed can trick your body into thinking it is day. Studies have found that smartphone use before bed can affect the quality of sleep – something that many of us are probably all too familiar with. Smartphones not only keep us mentally engaged, but the blue light that is emitted from smartphones actually suppresses the release of melatonin, a chemical in our body that promotes sleep. Not to mention, the sounds and vibrations from texts, emails and other alerts can be disruptive as well. Hence, using one’s smartphone just before bed or exposing oneself to light while sleeping not only hinders one’s ability to fall asleep, but also reduces the overall quality of rest.

Increase Exposure to Light During the Day

While you should minimise exposure to light in the period leading up to bed, you should instead aim to get as much exposure to natural sunlight during the day to keep yourself energised, awake and alert. Offices should also keep curtains and blinds drawn during the day to help employees keep their bodies attuned to the sun’s natural light cycle. And if you ever feel tired and restless at work, stepping out of the office for a stroll in the sun can make all the difference to your energy levels.

Keeping Your Schedule Consistent

Strive to wake up at the same time every day, including on weekends. Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm – a natural pattern of physiological and behavioural processes that are timed to a near 24-hour period – that relies on consistency. Waking up at the same time every day gives your body the consistency that it needs to know when you should be awake or asleep, hence helping to improve the quality of the rest that you get.

Get Comfortable

Lastly, a comfortable bed and bedroom are the hallmarks of an environment that is conducive for sleep. It pays to ensure that your mattress is comfortable and the temperature of your bedroom conducive to rest – studies have found that a temperature between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius is most likely to produce a good night’s sleep. Besides that, taking a warm bath or shower before bed or putting on a pair of comfortable pyjamas are simple steps that one can take to get a good night’s rest.

What are some things you do that help you get a good night’s rest or keep you energised throughout the day? Share with us in the comment box below!

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