Your five senses are instrumental in determining the quality of your sleep. Check out these ways to invigorate them holistically for well-rounded sleep.

Singaporeans sleep on average 6.7 hours on weekdays and 7.5 hours on weekends, says a study released in March 2020 by health technology company Royal Philips.

While the combined average of 6.9 hours a day almost hit the universally recommended sleep time of 7 to 9 hours per day, the study also revealed that 49 per cent of the respondents are not satisfied with the quality of their sleep, and only 6 out of 10 understand what prevents them from getting a good night’s sleep.

Insomnia has also emerged as one of the pandemic’s prevalent side effects, thanks to the changing structure of our workday and collective stresses. Approaching a better sleep via your five senses – sight, smell, sound, touch and taste – can dramatically improve your sleep quality.

1. Correct lights & colours help you to sleep

Artificial lights play a crucial role in the quality of our sleep. And by artificial light, we mean not just the light from lighting fixtures, but also the blue light emitted by your gadgets.

Set the right room temperature with colours

Save the sheep counting, and try these seven things to help you sleep better at night to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.

Choose the colour of your bedroom carefully. Pastel hues and light greys have soothing and calming effects. Avoid hyper-saturated colours like solid red or yellow.

Find the right light

Soft glow and diffused lights in warm hues are said to increase the production of melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone that helps you rest and relax. Many desk lamps, reading lights, and nightstand lamps are equipped with night mode to emit this relaxing glow.

2. No gadgets in bed, please!

Eight out of 10 people take their smartphone to bed, and most of them will waste precious sleep time trapped in the limbo of infinite scrolling.

Put your phone to night mode and store it away.

Use a conventional alarm clock or a smart assistant if you need assistance waking up, don’t rely on your phone alarm, chances are you won’t be able to resist browsing.

3. High Quality Mattress

More than just a piece of foam, a good mattress is essential for getting a good snooze. Whether you like your mattress firm or plush, the general rule of thumb is to choose one that can offer enough support for your back. Your sleeping position – on your back, side or stomach – also affects which mattress you should buy, so be sure to check with the retailer.

The Woosa Mattress which has four specifically designed layers for maximum comfort – from a 100% pure, hypoallergenic, ultra high quality, made-in-Belgium latex foam to an 11cm high density foam base layer that limits motion transfer even when your partner tosses and turns in the middle of the night. This way, you can expect undisturbed sleep.

4. Sleep Pillow Spray

Just like colours, some smells have a naturally soothing effect. Lavender, bergamot, and clary sage are some of the scents universally lauded for their calming properties, and the good news, there are plenty of products that you can choose from, ranging from scented candles and pillow mist of electric scent diffuser with aromatic oil, some of which are local artisanal brands.

Forty Winks Pillow Mist (White Tea & Lavender), $19.90 each from Nine Wicker Ave. 

It’s no news that aromas can assist in slumber – studies have shown that aromas can induce production of certain hormones, including melatonin, the hormone that promotes restful sleep.

Try This Works’ Deep Sleep Pillow Spray ($31 from Sephora). A restful night is just a spritz away with this pillow spray that has a calming infusion of lavender, vetiver, and chamomile essential oils.

For something stronger, consider getting Melatonin sleep sprays instead.

Another way to introduce aromatherapy into your nightly routine – candles or diffusers. Of course, if you have small children or pets, or if lighting a candle every day is simply too much hassle for you, reed diffusers would be more ideal.

Try Soohyang Diffuser in Sleep Well ($100 from The Floral Atelier) which has a soothing combination of lavender, rosemary and special herbs to keep destress and lull you into a state of slumber. It also promises to give you the sensation of waking up fresh after a long sleep.

5. Black-Out Curtains

Any flicker of light incoming from your neighbour’s house, or the street lamps, can interfere with the quality of your sleep (and can even indirectly cause weight gain).

Ikea Fyrtur Block-out wireless battery operated roller blind, $219 from Ikea.

You’d want to get full and heavyweight curtains or thicker roller blinds that can completely block out the moon and street lights.

Always consider the cleaning – full, flat, and plain roller blinds maybe easier to clean and maintain than thick blackout curtains or, worse still, venetian blinds.

6. Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets earn praises for enhancing sleep and even help to tackle sleep apnea – think of the weight like a warm hug. American brand Bearaby is famous for its Red Dot Award- winning knitted weighted blankets, which are made from biodegradable materials. 

Tree Napper Weighted Blanket, from US$269 (approximately S$357), from Bearaby. 

The concept behind weighted blankets (usually filled with small objects such as pellets and polypropylene plastic or glass beads) is that lying underneath constant and evenly distributed pressure (aka like a feeling of being hugged) increases the release of the hormone serotonin. This in turn helps with relaxation, and and evoking a sense of security and calmness.

In fact, it was originally a popular treatment for individuals diagnosed with ADHD, austism and anxiety.

Here, the YnM Weighted Blanket, which gently hugs the body for a comforting. Each has small quilted pockets containing non-toxic “quiet glass beads” that are evenly dispersed.  It’s also one of the more budget-friendly options, with prices starting at US$64.90.

7. Wake-Up Light

The manner in which you wake up can affect the rest of your day. If the jarring ringing of your alarm leaves you feeling frazzled every morning, consider wake-up lights that mimic the rising sun to gently lift you from dreamland instead.

The Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation and Sunset Fading Night Light, which gradually dims during your chosen sleep time, and simulates a gradual sunrise up in the morning, and has been clinically proven to help you wake up feeling more refreshed. It’s accompanied by three tranquil wake-up sounds.

8. Eye Mask or Eye Pillow

Eye masks also help block out the light when it’s time to hit the hay. Consider one that can be heated (it acts as a muscle relaxer) or cooled to soothe tired eyes.

The Wheat Eye Pillow in Plain Linen (US$19.88), which is filled with cotton and British wheat, and can be heated up or used as a cold pack.

9. Don’t sleep in deafening silence

The absence of noise can negatively affect your sleep quality just as much as too much noise; that’s why sound machines are among the most popular tools to promote quality sleep.

LectroFan High Fidelity, $109 at Amazon

These machines produce what the scientists call pink or brown noise (yes, sounds have more colours other than white, just like the light spectrum), which are the sounds at the lower end of the spectrum that studies have found to help people sleep more deeply. 

10. Melatonin-Friendly Foods

No, we’re not recommending snacking in bed or eating your way to a food coma, unfortunately. The ‘taste’ sense boosts your sleep quality by selecting the right foot to eat during the day. Must everything come down to proper diet, you ask? After a certain age, yes.

Some foods are great to increase the production of melatonin naturally. Those are fatty fish, almonds, banana, sour cherry, and walnuts. Drinking warm milk or chamomile tea has also been shown to increase the quality of your sleep. 

11. Cosy Bedsheets & Bed Linens

The sense of touch arguably having the most immediate effect on your sleep. We are all aware of the importance of the materials and design of your mattress, bedsheet, and pillows for the quality of your sleep. 

Choose breathable organic fibres

Choose linen or cotton if you tend to get hot at night for maximum breathability. Opt for flannel or bamboo sateen if you liked to crank your air conditioner and burrow into a cosy, toasty bed. 

Bamboo Sheet Set, from $218, Sunday Bedding

12. Sleep Rings & Sleep Apps

The sense of touch arguably having the most immediate effect on your sleep. We are all aware of the importance of the materials and design of your mattress, bedsheet, and pillows for the quality of your sleep. 

Plenty of gadgets are made to track the quality of your sleep so you can improve on it. And the good news is, unlike some sports performance trackers, these will not disturb your sleep. 

This stylishly versatile gadget called Oura Ring, priced from US$ 299 (approximately $397) combines advanced sensor technology and a minimal design with an easy-to-use mobile app to deliver precise, personalised health insights straight from the most reliable source: your body.

The Beddit Sleep Monitor automatically tracks your sleep and works with an iPhone app to help measure, manage, and improve your sleep.

Beddit Sleep Monitor retails for $219 at Apple Store. 

It comprises a 2mm-thin sensor strip that automatically measures sleep time, heart rate, breathing, snoring, and bedroom temperature and humidity. You can also set daily bedtime and sleep time goals via the app.