Sleep deprivation and tips to improve

sleepy woman
ID 147101229 © Heru Anggara | Dreamstime.com

You may have heard from your friends or colleagues that they would not be able to start working until they get their coffee fix every morning. While it may sound amusing, there might be a worrying truth hidden in the statement. They may either be a coffee aficionado or they are actually still sleepy!

Modern life with the invention of lamps, computers, the Internet, culture of overworking, traffic congestion and yes, coffee culture have contributed to this worldwide phenomenon. Malaysians, unfortunately, are also not spared from sleep-deprivation. Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace 2019 survey revealed that 53% of employees sleep less than seven hours daily. Worse still, 14% of employees also reported that they had poor or very poor-quality sleep.

Besides the obvious symptoms such as feeling tired, irritable and groggy, lack of sleep also ironically leads to loss of productivity at work. The phenomenon also known as presenteeism, occurs as sleep deprivation hinders the ability of our brain to concentrate, suppress our creativity and problem-solving skills and also negatively affects our short- and long-term memory.

While Islam encourages its followers to be hardworking, Islam also advocates adequate rest for us.

“And We created you in pairs. And made your sleep [a means for] rest. And made the night as clothing. And made the day for livelihood.” [Quran 78:8-11]

Unfortunately, the implications of sleep deprivation go beyond mood changes or sub-par productivity as it also put our health at serious risk. According to John Hopkin researcher, lack of sleep makes us prone to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, colorectal cancer and dementia.

Now that we recognise the causes and implications, we should put more effort into getting adequate sleep as it would ensure better productivity and healthier life. On average, typical adults need to sleep 7 to 9 hours a night to function optimally. There are a few things we should attempt to attain this.

First, keep consistent sleeping hours. This sets the brain and our internal body clock to adapt to the sleep routine. Next is to have a wind-down routine to achieve a smooth transition to sleep. This routine includes reading physical books or performing light stretching. Avoiding the use of any electronic device for one or two hours before bedtime is also helpful. Without this relaxing routine, we may have trouble sleeping immediately as our mind can still be agitated or excited.

Drinking coffee or any energy drink should also be avoided in the late evening or at night. This is due to the stimulant such as caffeine that affects sleep. Also, ensure that the bedroom is sleep-friendly. We should use the bedroom only for sleeping or praying. The bedroom should be dark, quiet, cool and comfortable. To prevent any distractions, electronic devices such as TVs, console games or computers should not be in the bedroom.

Lastly, wearing a smartwatch with sleep tracker can also be beneficial. Equipped with sensors for motion detection and heart rate monitoring, the device is able to estimate the amount of time users spend in different stages of sleep; light, deep, REM or even awake. The collected data is then used to obtain a sleep score. These features can provide insight into our sleep quality and duration.

Did you get enough sleep today?