6 tips for a better night's sleep

Having difficulty sleeping at night even though you've had a long day at work?

Insomnia might be cause by various reasons - here are a few things you should avoid in order to get a good night's sleep.

#1 CAFFEINE, ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES

Coffee, tea, chocolate, fizzy drinks and nicotine are stimulants. While a little tipple can help you sleep, too much makes you wake up often during the night. Have your last one before 8pm if you want to be in bed by 11.30pm.

#2 ROOM TEMPERATURE

Anything between 18 and 22 deg C is best for falling asleep. If your room is too hot or too cold, your body will slip in and out of deep sleep - the sleep phase that is the most important for the body.

#3 AN EMPTY OR FULL STOMACH

In his book, Sleep Matters, Dr Pang writes that stomach discomfort from lack of food can keep you up. On the other hand, a full stomach may cause acid reflux (where gastric acids come back up the gullet), causing chest discomfort. Have at least a two-hour break between your last meal and bedtime.

#4 STIMULATING ACTIVITIES

Having an important discussion, watching a horror movie or playing an exciting computer game puts your brain on alert mode. Stop them at least one to two hours before bedtime to wind down.

#5 LIGHT

Harvard University's Healthy Sleep website says that artificial light affects our internal clock since our brain is "tricked" into thinking it's not night-time yet. Draw your curtains or blinds to cut out light or wear a sleep mask.

#6 EXERCISE

Your body needs time to get your heart rate and adrenalin levels down after you exercise, so stop exerting yourself at least three to four hours before sleeping.

This story was first published in Her World Magazine December 2012.

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