“Sleep earlier, ah boy,” my mum used to tell me. I used to ignore her.
A decade and a few herniated disc scares later, I now regret it. I’ve not just been sleeping too late, I also sleep badly.
Sleep is recharge time for your body. If you don’t give your phone time to charge, you cannot expect it to have enough juice, right? Obviously our bodies are the same.
But it’s not too late. This is what I’ve been doing wrong.
My room is not helping me sleep:
Because of my room’s layout, I sleep near my desk, giving me easy access to my computer from my bed -- I’ve developed a habit of drifting off to sleep while listening to comedy shows.
I would slowly doze off, but jolt wide awake suddenly to laugh at something funny. This meant I got used to going to bed at 2 a.m., but actually falling asleep at 3 a.m.
I also sleep on a cheap mattress -- it has a funny name, cost about a hundred bucks and was the softest one I could afford.
It seems to trap heat in the day and unleash it upon my body at night.
Temperature is important for a good sleep; generally speaking, a decrease in temperature induces sleep.
A good mattress is apparently one that improves ventilation and reduces temperature -- but my basic mattress doesn’t do any of that for me in this hot and humid climate.
My mattress is basic, and so is my spinal health as a result:
My mattress now is essentially a queen-sized cuboid stuffed with cotton.
It’s too soft (yes there is such a thing), and doesn’t give me good support, so I would wake up sore and tired.
Sitting on a mattress for a few seconds in a showroom is very different from sleeping on it a few hours a day. Don't skimp on a good mattress; they are complex things designed (ya machiam iPhone liddat) with multiple components.
That doesn’t necessarily mean expensive = good either.
Even the most expensive mattress might not be a good fit for your sleeping style -- that makes mattress shopping difficult, because we all sleep differently.
A good idea is to try the product out; Haylee, for example, gives you a 100-day free trial on their ideal 6/10 firmness (read: not too firm but not overly soft) mattresses. That’s a whopping 3 months, and then some.
I mean, 5 minutes in a store or 100 nights at home? No brainer.
My sleeping posture sucks:
I like sleeping on my stomach. I’ve done it since young and it makes sense to me -- I have a peculiar instinct to protect my innards.
Turns out that this wreaks havoc on my spine and neck.
The posture straightens my spine, which is bad because our spines are curved. Just so I don't suffocate, I cock my head to one side, which is particularly nasty for my neck.
No wonder I spend 12.52% of my waking hours trying to crack my neck.
With the help of Youtube, I’ve discovered that sleeping on your side or on your back is much better; the most important thing is good spinal alignment.
You want to sleep in a way that helps your spine curve naturally.
I never power down before I sleep:
I used to play video games (usually the zombie killing variety) through the majority of the night, then go to sleep immediately after.
The result was me lying in bed for a long time, heart racing with adrenaline (I would also have very lucid dreams of zombies in Singapore when I did fall asleep).
I’ve realised that I need to stop these high intensity activities before I sleep.
I’ve found success in powering down an hour before I nod off -- staying away from digital screens and doing less intense activities like playing music, reading books or doodling.
It’s also ill-advised to eat heavy meals right before bedtime, as it affects your quality of sleep.
You snooze, you lose:
It’s important to wake up properly too. I used to be a chronic snoozer, and my body had some incredibly convincing justifications for hitting that snooze button.
“Sure, you can get dressed, brush your teeth, do your hair and shave in 20 seconds.”
“Just Grab la, you got discount code anyway.”
“Aiya miss one bus never mind one.”
“You hate your job anyway.”
But snoozing does more than delay you for 5 minutes a tap. Apparently, our bodies need time to wake up. Jolting awake from the fear of imminent unemployment isn’t just irresponsible, it messes up your body clock and starts us off badly for the morning.
The sensation of lingering sleepiness and grogginess is appropriately referred to as “sleep inertia”, because like cars, our bodies need time to accelerate to full speed.
Having fixed some of these issues, my mum is in general approval. I still have a long way to go, because she sleeps at 10 pm and wakes up at 6 am every single day.
But I no longer hit the snooze button (at least on weekdays) and I don’t feel like crap in the mornings anymore.
Do you sleep badly too? Let us know in the comments how you sleep badly and how you’ve improved (or hope to improve) your sleep.