Stressed? Here's how to sleep better

Experts share easy tips on countering stress to get a good night’s sleep

Work related stress was identified as the main reason behind sleep among a quarter of UAE residents, while financial stress (21%) closely followed, according to research commissioned by international health insurance arm Bupa Global. Ahead of World Sleep Day on March 17, we spoke to sleep experts Dr Fiona McAndrew and Ana Noia on tips to counter stress and finally get a good night’s sleep.

1. Don’t exercise close to bed time: Avoid vigorous exercises three to four hours before bed as it elevates adrenaline levels and heart rate, which will make falling asleep harder.

2. Bye-bye technology: The blue light emitted by phones, tablets and TVs stops your body from producing the hormone melatonin, which is essential for good sleep. If you don’t want to switch off your phone before going to bed, put it on silent and “night shift” (where the colours of your display are shifted to the warmer end of the colour spectrum) to help you get better sleep[1].

3. Temperature: The environment of the bedroom you sleep in plays an important role in your sleep. Your bedroom needs to be cool and dark, as light and warmth slow the production of melatonin, our ‘sleep hormone’.

4. 20 minute rule: If you are struggling to sleep, do not stay in bed tossing and turning. You will only get yourself frustrated and anxious, which will make relaxing harder. If after 20 minutes you are still awake, get up and do something relaxing, such as reading, for 20 minutes then go back to bed.

5. Regular bed time: A stable bedtime routine helps the heart filter out stress hormones, as well as hormones related to satiety and hunger.

6. Limit nap time: Limit it to 45 minutes or less, especially if you need to do something when you wake up. Otherwise, you might drift into REM sleep. Waking up from that stage results in sleep inertia, that grogginess and disorientation that can last for 30 minutes to an hour or more.

7. Avoid caffeine before bedtime: Avoid it for up to 6 hours before bedtime. The effect of caffeine on sleep depends on the amount ingested throughout the day, not just at bedtime. Caffeine consumption can cause extended sleep latency, shorter total sleep time, worsening of the overall quality of sleep and shortening of deep sleep.

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