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Time for better sleep

We generally need around seven to eight hours of sleep every night in order to be well rested.  


However, most people do not get enough sleep.   Prolonged period of insufficient sleep can cause different health problems.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is described by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Waking up often during the night and having trouble getting back to sleep

  • Waking up too early in the morning

  • Sleepiness during the day

  • Irritability

  • Problems with concentrating or memory


Insomnia varies in how long it persists and how often it occurs. It can be short-term.


Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks, usually less than three weeks.  It is often related to an identifiable cause.

Causes of acute insomnia can include:

  • Significant life stress (death of a loved one, loss of a job, moving, divorce)

  • Illness

  • Emotional or physical discomfort

  • Environmental factors such as noise, light, extreme temperatures or conditions of sleep space

  • Medications such as those used to treat allergies, depression, high blood pressure may interfere with sleep

  • Disturbances in normal sleep schedule such as jet lag or switch from day shift to night shift

  • Use of caffeine, nicotine or alcohol

  • Nocturia (night time urination)

​Chronic insomnia can be more long lasting.  It can last for most nights for more than three weeks.

Causes of chronic insomnia can include:

  • Depression and/or anxiety

  • Chronic stress

  • Pain or discomfort at night


Tips for better sleep 

  • Relax your mind 

    Many people find that they have difficulty falling asleep because they cannot relax their mind. While their body is exhausted, their mind is still awake.  They cannot help but keep thinking about what happened during the day or what to happen the following day. Excessive thoughts can contribute to insomnia.

    Simple breathing exercises may help to relax your mind and bring you back to the present moment.  

  • If you find yourself tossing around in bed for more than 30 minutes, you may get up and do something that is not too stimulating.

  • Avoid doing anything that is too exciting two hours before bedtime.


  • Exercise regularly

    Avoid doing exercises close to bedtime as exercise produces stimulants, which may stop the brain from relaxing quickly. Exercising in the morning is a great way to wake up the body.


  • Create a calm and comfortable bedroom environment

    Use the bedroom for sleep only and avoid using it as an entertainment centre. 


  • Healthy diet

    Avoid having too much food too close to bedtime. Spicy or fatty food may cause heartburn which may cause physical discomfort during the night.


  • Avoid caffeine

    Caffeine contains a stimulate which can prevent a person falling asleep. Avoid sources of caffeine such as coffee, chocolate and cola drinks.


  • Avoid alcohol

    Excessive alcohol can make some people feeling restless. It is also a diuretic which encourages the body to lose more water. The person would feel the need to urinate more often. Urination during the night would be disruptive to sleep. 


  • Establish a regular bed time and wake up routine 

    It is good to create and maintain a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This helps to set and anchor the body clock to those times. 

    If you feel you have not slept enough the previous night, resist the temptation of sleeping longer than normal the following morning. It is better to stick to the normal bed time and wake up routine.


  • Afternoon naps

    If you feel very tired due to insufficient sleep, a fifteen minutes afternoon nap can be an effective way to refresh the mind. However, it is best to avoid napping for more than 20 minutes as it may make it difficult to fall asleep again that evening.


  • Seek professional assistance when needed

    If you have trouble falling asleep for a prolonged period of time, or always wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back into sleep again, it is recommended to seek professional assistance.


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