Insomnia is the inability to get an adequate amount of sleep in order to feel refreshed the next day,” explains Specialists from the Department of Psychiatry​ at Singapore General Hospital​ (SGH), a member of the Si​ngHealth​ group.

There are many possible causes of insomnia.

“In a fast-paced city like Singapore, people suffer from insomnia because of the stresses of daily living, such as work​ pressures, family conflicts, and financial difficulties.” Some people might also have unrealistic expectations about sleep and become very worried if they can’t sleep for one or two nights. “This, in turn, worsens sleeplessness,” adds the SGH Department of Psychiatry.

Constant jet lag due to frequent business travel and shift work can also wreak havoc on sleeping patterns.

“Beyond these causes, the inability to sleep is also a common complaint of those suffering from psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and substance and alcohol misuse.” In other cases, insomnia may also be due to sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome (RLS), periodic limp movement disorder and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Sleep well with good sleeping habits

Cultivating good sleep habits can go a long way towards helping you have restful sleep. Here are a few sleep hygiene tips suggested by the Sleep Disorders Clinic​ at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

9 TIPS to comba​t insomnia

1. Adopt a regular sleep schedule

Make it a point to go to bed and wake up the same time every day, be it weekends or holidays. This will help reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

2. Stay active

Exercising regularly promotes better, deeper sleep and helps you to fall asleep faster. But avoid strenuous exercise up to four hours before bedtime as it might overstimulate you.

3. Limit daytime naps

Daytime naps can interfere with your sleep at night, especially if you’re already struggling with insomnia or have poor quality night time sleep. If you must take a nap in the day, limit it to no more than one hour and in the early part of the afternoon.​

4. Have a bedtime ritual

Soothing practices like taking a warm shower or dimming the lights before going to bed can help you wind down. However, steer clear of the TV and other electronic devices as these tend to interfere with sleep. If there is distracting noise, you can try to block it out by using a fan to generate constant, low-frequency “white noise”.

5. Avoid alcohol before bedtime

Alcohol is NOT a sleeping aid. It might seem to make you sleepy but it actually makes for shallow, disturbed sleep.

6. Mind your bedtime snacks

Avoid consuming caffeine late in the day as it may disrupt sleep up to 12 hours later in sensitive individuals. Have a glass of warm milk or some light crackers if you must have a bedtime snack. These contain tryptophan, an amino acid that may help induce sleep. Don’t drink or eat too much or you may have to get up to use the restroom before morning.

7. Limit use of sleeping pills

Many sleep medications have side effects and are not meant for long-term use. As they only address the symptoms and not the actual causes, they can worsen your sleep problem.

8. Don’t lie awake if you can’t sleep

If you’ve been lying awake in bed for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed to do a non-stimulating activity like reading a book. Staying in bed may lead you to dwell on your worries.

​​9. Talk to your doctor

If all your attempts to solve your sleep problems have been unsuccessful, don’t choose to suffer in silence. You may have a sleep disorder condition called sleep apnea. Please talk to your doctor or visit the Sleep Disorders Unit at SGH.​

Are men more likely to die from insomnia than women?

While insomnia affects women more, recent research by Penn State College of Medicine, Pennsylvania, found that men who have trouble sleeping may have more to worry about.

According to this study, men with chronic insomnia were four times more likely to die early than men with healthy sleep patterns.

However, the SGH Department of Psychiatry explains the findings, “Actually, this study did not conclusively state that men with chronic insomnia might die younger. It merely observed that insomniac men who slept less than six hours per night had a higher mortality rate compared to insomniac men who managed to catch more sleep.”

There are certain limitations to this study. For one, only one sleep study was carried out for each participant. “This is not actually reflective of each participant’s habitual sleep duration. Besides, the sleep study environment is different from the home environments of the participants.”

Also, the number of participants in the insomnia groups was very small compared to the non-insomnia groups. This means that any deaths in these small groups will contribute to a large effect when converted to percentages, which may not be a true effect.

Lastly, the study did not consider the possible association between hypnotic medications like sleeping pills a​nd mortality, adds the SGH Department of Psychiatry.

R​ef: I23 (edit)

Check out our other articles on good sleep:

Does Insomnia Cause Earlier Death in Men?

More Tips to Prevent Insomnia

Tips for Good Sleep Hygiene and Sleep Habits