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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sleep well to keep well

Did you know that not getting enough sleep can make you age faster? And there’s a reason why they call it beauty sleep—getting enough zzz’s not only gives you the energy you need to get through your day, but is also vital for your skin to rejuvenate itself.

Try to limit your naps to a maximum of 30 minutes a day

Amazing things happen to your body while you sleep.

According to clinical psychologist Dr Lee Kuan Shin, B.A. Psych. (Syr. NY), M.A. Clin. Psych. (UKM), sleep functions as a ‘time-out’ for your body after being active throughout the day.

But while your body takes a break, some of its other functions kick in to rebuild and recharge itself, which explains why your skin looks tired and dull when you’re sleep deprived. When this happens, it’s less able to withstand harsh environmental irritants and stress, leaving it more vulnerable to further damage.

Stress is the number one cause of sleeplessness. When you’re constantly worried or feeling under pressure, your body continues to work overtime, leaving it drained with little time to rest.

Physical. Pains, allergies and hormonal shifts can also contribute to sleepless nights.

The environment. Incessant noise, bright lights, or extreme temperatures can interfere with your ability to sleep soundly.

Lifestyle choices. Cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, and overeating can get in the way of deep sleep and even trigger insomnia.

A kink in your routine. Your sleep cycle can be affected by a change in your sleep pattern when you work shifts, travel, or work overtime.


  • Establish a consistent sleep routine. Sleep and wake up at the same time every day, no matter how poorly you sleep. This will help your body establish a sleep cycle. We recommend enlisting the help of an alarm to do this.

  • Give up the tossing and turning in bed in favour of light and relaxing activities. However, try to give the suspense thrillers, television and computer games a miss.

  • Relax. Unwind your mind by taking a warm bath, drinking a glass of warm milk or listening to soothing music, and your body is likely to follow suit.

  • Avoid stimulants such as heavy meals, strenuous exercise, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, smoking and engaging in anxiety-provoking activities before bedtime.

  • Avoid napping during the day. If you must, try to limit your naps to a maximum of 30 minutes a day

Most sleep-better tips revolve around physical adjustments, but how we feel and think also has a lot to do with how well we sleep.

“Sleeplessness indicates an underlying issue, be it a physical, psychological or a lifestyle one,” explains Dr Lee.

“Sleeplessness is a sign that you need to pay attention to these factors. It is also a natural reaction when you are anticipating a highly-charged event the following day because your body thinks it’s preparing for the next day’s ‘battle’.

Try practicing deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to loosen up the tension before going to bed.”


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