Ditch the Alarm Clock and Other 'Sleep Hygiene' Tips From a Sleep Professional
Some 30 percent of the world’s population suffer from sleep disturbances, according to the World Health Organization, and the number is bound to rise with bad habits linked to increased use of gadgets and physical inactivity.
If you’re part of the statistics, it’s time to take up “sleep hygiene,” a set of routines that specialists like Dr. Ely Hibionada teaches patients with sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Here’s how you can start your sleep-deprivation detox.
1| Ditch the alarm clock
You certainly don’t want to miss your flight or your morning meeting, but relying on alarm clocks to jolt you up does your body harm. According to Dr, Hibionada, an adult who must be sleeping seven to eight hours per night will wake up on his own once the sleep cycle has been completed.
“Your body has a built-in clock that will tell you if you have slept enough already. Using an alarm clock disrupts the sleep cycle and you will end up getting more tired during the day,” Hibionada says.
To ensure things go as planned, go to sleep eight hours before your scheduled waking time.
2| Cut the caffein by noon
Caffeine circulates in the body for six hours and consuming caffeinated drinks beyond lunch time will trick your body into thinking you have energy to stay awake for a few more hours. Coffee quantity is also a factor, so make sure you only drink a maximum of two cups per day,
For graveyard shift workers, coffee consumption must not go beyond 11 pm, or around 7 hours prior to the expected sleep time in the morning, says Dr. Hibionada.
3| Skip the siesta
Sure, power naps provide energy. But in the long run, daily short snoozes will destroy your circadian rhythm, says Dr. Hibionada. Our bodies are wired to follow the day and night cycle, so you should train your brain that daytime isn’t for sleep.
4| Drop the gadget two hours before bedtime
Sleep specialists have long been raising the alarm on gadget use disrupting sleep. Skip that additional Netflix episode, even if your phone has a night mode that supposedly decreases your blue light exposure.
“It’s still light. Any kind of light tricks your brain that it’s day,” says Dr. Hibionada. Gadget use also contradicts the recommended sleep practice of keeping the bedroom dark and quiet.
Playing games or watching movies with your gadgets also heightens your senses, which increases the production of stress hormones that may disrupt your sleep, he adds. If you are in dire need of recreation, try listening to calming music.
5| Get more sunshine
We're not talking about sunbathing at your favorite beach. To enhance your mood and sleep quality, get more consistent daylight sun. Open up those curtains or move your work table near the window, whether you’re in the office or at home.
According to a study published on Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, those who spent their work hours in areas sans windows “had significantly worse scores” on physical well-being and vitality. Meanwhile, those who had more light exposure during work hours had longer and deeper sleep.
Dr. Hibionada says sunshine exposure paired with short exercises such as a 30-minute brisk walk has always helped his patients.
6| Consult a specialist if needed
Do not wait for years of despair before reaching out to a sleep specialist. Lack of sleep could lead to anxiety and depression. Many life-threatening diseases are also tied to lack of sleep.
Dr. Hibionada says treatments for sleep disorders may involve medication or psychotherapy, which “involves a lot of training to stop bad habits that are not reproductive for sleep.”
Insomnia treatments may mean one-hour weekly sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy, or various tests in the sleep laboratory.
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If you’re still not convinced about the need to catch more sleep, perhaps you can join the bunch of streamers who are being paid while they snooze.