Malaysians are not getting enough quality sleep and it’s affecting our health immensely. In fact, did you know that we have one of the highest statistics of insomnia cases in the world with 35 per cent of us suffering symptoms of the disorder?
Even more worrying is the fact that a substantial 12.2 per cent of the population suffers from chronic insomnia. Yikes! So how did our population become almost half insomniacs and what can we do to overcome it? We reached out to a local doctor and here is what he has to say.
Sleeping on the insomnia issue
Dr. Khiddir Nasharuddin, a medical practitioner based in Kuala Selangor noticed amongst his patients and our society in general, that we do not take insomnia and other sleeping disorders as something serious.
“We tend to brush aside not having enough proper sleep and see it as something normal. Some employers even expect their staffs to work back-to-back shifts without proper care for their mental health.”
Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder and can be categorised by these symptoms:
- Difficulty to fall asleep or staying asleep for the desired duration.
- Daytime sleepiness and low energy.
- Easily feeling irritated and constantly being in a state of depression.
Dr Khiddir further commented that insomnia can last for days or weeks, or worse, lasting for more than a month.
“In the short-term, insomnia may seem mild but in the long run, studies have shown that it could even affect the brain!”
The adverse effects of insomnia on your health
Various medical institutions have delved into insomnia and its relationship with mental health including this study by the University of Oxford which relates sleep disruption to:
- Occurrences of paranoia and hallucinatory experiences.
- The development of anxiety and depression; especially amongst young adults.
Dr. Khiddir concurs and further added that getting enough quality sleep can help protect your physical and mental health.
“Quality of sleep is closely associated with mental health as a disruption in the human circadian rhythm could lead to negative psychiatric issues!”
The circadian rhythm is an internal and natural system within our bodies which functions to:
- Regulate feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period.
- It adheres to environmental factors such as sunlight called light-related circadian rhythm.
- This is why human beings as a species sleep during the night and stay awake during the day.
Speaking of the circadian rhythm and the importance of one’s quality of sleep, Dr Khiddir further stressed,
“People tend to only focus on a balanced diet and regular exercising for a healthy life, but do note that quality sleep is up there with them amongst the three pillars of good health!”
Ways to improve your sleep quality
So how do we make sure that we get enough quality sleep? Here are some tips shared by Dr Khiddir:
1. Avoid caffeine and other substances that affect the human physiology
Make sure to not consume caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, chocolate, soda and more for at least 6 hours before bedtime. Tobacco is also an obvious no, as nicotine is a known stimulant that keeps you awake.
There are studies that link alcohol to helping you to fall asleep, but it also has the effect of increasing the number of instances suddenly waking up during sleep and decreases the overall quality of sleep. Hence, if you drink, refrain from consuming alcoholic beverage up to 3 hours before bedtime.
2. Use natural light to correct your circadian rhythm
As sunlight is one of the factors determining your body’s circadian rhythm, use it to your advantage by:
- Letting in the light first thing in the morning.
- Get out of the office for a sun break during the day!
This will then keep your body clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle and makes it easier for you to naturally fall asleep at night.
3. Create a soothing daily pre-bed routine
In order to have a smoother transition between wake to sleep time, do some relaxing activities starting an hour before you go to bed. This can be done through soothing activities such as:
- Taking a hot shower or bath.
- Reading a book.
- Watching TV.
- Relaxation exercises such as meditation and yoga.
Avoid stressful activities or thinking about emotional issues as it would make your body to naturally secrete Cortisol, a stress hormone that increases alertness hence making it hard to fall asleep!
4. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable, sleep-inducing environment
Quality sleep can be achieved in a quiet, dark, and cool environment. Here are some tips on setting up the perfect bedroom:
- Try to block out or lower outside noise as much as you can. This can be done through earplugs or playing “white noises” through a speaker.
- Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain that it’s time to wake up.
- Keep the temperature comfortably cool, between 16° to 20° celsius.
Besides that, Dr Khiddir also stressed on the importance of having a well-ventilated bedroom.
“The typical Malaysian home actually houses hazardous indoor pollutants like dust particles, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and Radon due to lack of hygiene, high humidity and poor ventilation.”
Overcoming the hazardous pollutants inside your home
In fact, various studies including this one by the Building and Environment Journal have pointed to the unwanted effects of indoor pollutants including one’s quality of sleep and overall health.
Due to a poorly ventilated environment, you will inadvertently be exposed to dermal and nasal exposure to particle contaminants such as:
- Volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds from mattress foam and pillows.
- Carbon monoxide.
- Bacteria, fungi, allergens and more!
Hence, it is important to take steps to make the air is pollutant-free and clean. One way to do so is to invest in having proper ventilation and products that regulate air quality such as the Nanoe technology found in Panasonic’s X Series Air Conditioners.
Did you know that Panasonic X Series Air Conditioners come with complete air solutions for all types of homes? With its amazing Nanoe Technology, you can keep indoor air clean and fresh as it will:
- Deodorises the air.
- Inhibits bacteria & viruses.
- Inhibits mould.
- Inhibits allergens
- Inhibits pollen
- Inhibits hazardous substances
- It’ll even moisturise your skin and hair!
Besides having Nanoe technology, Panasonic’s X series premium air conditioners come with a free Network Adaptor that allows for wireless connectivity which lets you control your air conditioner anytime anywhere.
This combined with Panasonic‘s power-saving inverter technology makes for the most perfect addition to your household, especially if you want quality air for life!
Interested? Find out more about the X series air conditioners and other awesome products by Panasonic here.
After discovering all these effects of having a compromised sleep quality as shared by Dr Khiddir, it’s clear that we must take insomnia and other sleep disorders seriously. Let’s strive to be a healthier nation together and prioritize having a good well-rested sleep every night!
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