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The Z files: The Science of Sleep How you’re degrading your Sleep – and how to stop

When was the last time that you awoke from a restful and restorative sleep? Living in a fast-paced city it can be tough to get a full eight hours of perfect slumber. In part 2 of our sleep series, we asked sleep researchers for their thoughts on how we degrade our sleep and how to improve it.

“First, people don’t get enough sleep during the week, and they try to compensate for this sleep debt by sleeping in on weekends,” says Professor YK Wing, associate dean of CUHK’s Department of Psychiatry and head of Shatin Hospital’s Sleep Assessment Unit. Professor Wing notes that this is common in both adults and children because of work and school demands – but it actually hurts your sleep patterns.

Similarly, says Professor Wing, Hongkongers go to bed late by global standards. “The reasons include excessive media usage and – for young people – after-school tutorials and homework. Young people here also often sleep with electronic devices.”

According to Professor Wing, these are the leading causes of poor sleep hygiene – the positive sleeping habits we need to create in order to rest well.

The good news is that you can improve your sleep quality by sticking to a few simple habits. Professor Wing’s colleague Rachel Chan sums them up:

  1. Prioritise sleep. “Value sleep – it’s essential for health and well-being.”

  2. Embrace a regular sleep-wake routine. “Having a stable wake-up time and bedtime across a week will regularise your circadian clock and sleep needs.”

  3. Have a 30–60-minute wind-down before bedtime. “Engage in relaxing activities to prepare your body for sleep.”

  4. No gadgets. “Remove any electronic devices from your bedroom.”

  5. Ban caffeine. “Avoid stimulants such as coffee and tea 4–6 hours before bedtime.”

  6. Exercise at the right times. “Regular daytime exercise can improve sleep quality, but you should avoid rigorous exercise near bedtime.”

  7. Develop relaxing routines. “Reading a book, taking a warm shower or brushing your teeth lets your body know that it’s time to go to bed. Be sure to avoid unpleasant or highly emotional activities at that time.”

  8. Create a soothing sleep zone. “Sleep with a light shield in a quiet and cool room.”

If you found this advice helpful, stay tuned to find out how you can build the perfect bed.

2019-03-13 00:01:00.0

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