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, which we imagine would considerably influence the 2021 sleep quality statistics. Approaching a better sleep via your five senses – sight, smell, sound, touch and taste – can dramatically improve your sleep quality. Here are some tips. 

1. SIGHT

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

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.  

Dyson Lightcycle Morph, $799 (desk variant) and $1,199 (floor variant), from Dyson.

REGULATE THE NATURAL LIGHT

Need to catch some sleep during the day? Invest in some black-out blinds for maximum rest. 

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

DON’T TAKE YOUR GADGETS TO BED

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.

2. SMELL

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.

3. SOUND

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. 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. 

Own a Google Nest Mini? Say “Hey Google, help me relax”, which will activate 12 hours of ambient noise. You can also make it play more specific sounds like crackling fireplace, a babbling brook or cricket chirps.

Starts from $139 from Google Store, store.google.com.
Also available at Challenger and Courts. 

4. TASTE

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.

camomile tea

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. 

Almonds

5. TOUCH

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. 

ORGANIC FIBRES ARE Y OUR BEST BET

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 at Sunday Bedding

A LITTLE EXTRA WEIGHT GOES A LONG WAY

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

6. TECH: YOUR 21ST-CENTURY SIXTH SENSE 

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. 

OURA RING. This stylishly versatile gadget 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. 

From US$ 299 (approximately S$397) at www. ouraring.com

BEDDIT SLEEP MONITOR. This gadget automatically tracks your sleep and works with an iPhone app to help measure, manage, and improve your sleep.

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.