So last month, I got a new bed. It’s a lovely super-single sized mattress with a fitted mattress pad that adds subtle cushioning, which makes a world of difference by the way. I then had to get a quilt, one that is thick and soft-stuffed with clouds and rainbows, and of course absolutely ridiculous in Singapore’s sweltering heat.
This exacerbated the number of hours I was sleeping every night.
There is something you have to understand. Previously, on my single-sized mattress made of wood and rusty nails, and the handkerchief I had as a sorry excuse for a blanket (at least that was what it felt like), I still managed to sleep so much that on certain occasions, people wondered if I had died.
I love sleeping, if you still haven’t gathered. People accuse me of sleeping too much, but honestly, in a world that is obsessed with productivity, an essential part of the equation seems to be missing.
In order to maximise productivity, adequate sleep is necessary.
The benefits of sleep can’t be summarised in one blog post, or ten for that matter, as there are numerous varied processes going on in your body while you sleep. According to Russell Foster in ‘Why do we sleep?’ however, the main reasons are threefold:
Everything that we’ve burnt up in our body while we are awake is being rebuilt and restored while we sleep.
This is the idea where we essentially ‘sleep to save calories’. We are sleeping and saving up energy, instead of doing something else.
Brain Processing and Memory Consolidation
It has been proven that with inadequate rest, the ability to learn or remember new things is diminished.
But all these reasons and ideas aren’t new. They’re just being ignored, and substituted for more work, for ‘better productivity’. Because why sleep, when something else more useful or important can be done, right?
I think you see how this vicious cycle works.
Now that we’re all on-board with my philosophy (hooray) here are some sleeping hacks I’ve learnt to help me sleep better at night, and maximise my productivity and performance the next day.
Invest in a Good Mattress and Pillow
This may sound too simple, but not everyone has a bed that compliments them. Everyone deserves to feel completely at ease in their bed, and it’s a long-term investment! Finding the perfect mattress and pillow is akin to finding a soul mate. It’s like getting an embrace from your bed every morning. Seriously, who will love you more?
Create a Soporific/Hypnotic Environment in Your Bedroom
Induce sleep. Make sure your room is dark, cool and has plenty of ventilation. Get blackout curtains, try to minimise the noise from outside and keep the temperature a little cooler than your body temperature. All these tips will help you feel comfortable enough to induce sleep.
Don’t Stress Yourself into Falling Asleep
If you often find yourself lying in bed listening to the ticking of the clock, or worrying about the presentation tomorrow (why am I not asleep yet, what if I don’t wake up on time tomorrow) instead of falling asleep, then you’re stressing yourself too much for your body to fall asleep. Try a less stress-inducing activity like reading a book or listening to soothing music, at dim light of course. Bright lights will trick your mind into thinking it’s time to be awake, and falling asleep again might be a challenge.
Don’t Depend on a Nightcap to Fall Asleep
Some people think that having a small alcoholic drink at night might help them fall asleep faster. Alcohol has sedative tendencies, and while it might ease the process of falling asleep, it fails to mimic sleep and the sedative tendencies might harm some of the processes of brain processing and memory consolidation. This in turn will lead to tiredness during the day, and the reliance on other stimulants such as caffeine, which will keep you up at night, and once again the alcohol comes in handy. You see where this is going.
Don’t Have a Huge Meal Just Before Sleeping
Have dinner a few hours before sleep-time. Don’t snack on heavy meals just before attempting to fall asleep. That might cause indigestion amongst other things, and will definitely affect your sleep. If you get hungry at night, snack on dairy products if you can, or try warm milk.
These are some of the tips that have helped me and a few others, but remember that every individual is different, and you will have to experiment a little to discover your ideal sleep-inducing environment. If you would like more tips on healthy sleeping habits, simply google it. Advice on healthy sleeping habits are in abundance on the internet!
Time to hit the sack now for a power nap. As Shakespeare once wrote, “He that sleeps feels not the tooth-ache”, and hey, who I am to argue with the man?