The #1 beauty tip every freelance professional needs to know
17 March is dedicated to World Sleep Day, something worth remembering as 40 million people in the US (or 5.4% of the world’s 7.4 billion population) are encountering some form of sleep problem. And it’s not a pretty sight, as dermatologist Dr Howard Murad sharing the reasons why a lack of sleep shows up most apparently on our faces.
Closer to home, 40% of Singaporeans surveyed reported less than the optimal seven hours of sleep on week days, according to a study by SingHealth Polyclinics done over 350 people.
While many of us may think the repercussions of incurring sleep debt tend to appear years later, it doesn’t negate the fact that not sleeping enough leads to a higher risk of heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity. A study done on shift workers found that disruptive sleep cycles is a major factor contributing to the workers gaining weight and at an increased risk for heart disease.
When you’re juggling career and family commitments, sleep is usually the first thing to go.
A freelance schedule can be disruptive to sleep too, with call times for assignments or photoshoots at wee hours, or back-to-back deadline rushes. If committing to an exercise routine is tough, the next best thing you could do would be having a sleep routine, where the benefits can be lifesaving.
Not having enough sleep causes your immune system to suffer, which makes you prone to ailments and a longer recovery period. Sleep deprivation was a common torture tactic deployed during wartime, and reportedly part of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” following the 9/11 attacks in the US. While going without sleep for 180 hours is an extreme example, the fact is that not sleeping enough does have an adverse and lasting impact on our wellbeing.
In his book Detoxification and Healing: The Key to Optimal Health, author Sidney Baker, M.D. explains a plausible link between poor health and sleep deficiency.
“Imagine the machinery of detoxification, mostly in the liver, emitting an enormous grinding, groaning, gurgling sound that would dwarf our loudest intestinal rumblings and belches. Considering that most detoxification goes on at night, the noise of our sanitation department would surely keep us up if were able to give forth sounds comparable to the work it does. As it is, a faulty detoxification system is a common reason for poor sleep (or sleep disorders) . We sometimes reach too quickly for a sedative for our nerves, when it is our liver that needs help” (p.141).
The Singapore Sleep Society has a list of recommendations for sleep clinics.
10 things to do when you’re going for quality sleep
1. Resist from hitting the snooze button, and slip in 20-30 minute naps in the day to recover from the fatigue.
2. Keep your fridge stocked with nutrient-rich foods, such as salad greens, chicken, yoghurt (find out why it’s good for you here), avocado, and a variety of fruits for fibre. If you have to eat late, at least you’ll eat better.
3. Instead of 30 minutes of daily exercise, short but intense 10-minute HIIT workouts are more effective to get your heart rate and metabolism up, leading to better quality sleep.
4. Put aside your gadgets about an hour before bedtime, as the light reflected from your screens is sending signals to your brain to stay awake.
5. Keep your room slightly cool, between 20-22 degree celcius.
6. Choose romance over blockbuster thriller for your late-night entertainment.
7. Reduce sugar, caffeine, and especially alcohol intake, as our liver takes extra effort to break down the toxins.
8. Spice up your meals. Adding a little turmeric, dill, or nutmeg powder into your meals can protect your cells from the effects of sleep deprivation, as this study reveals.
9. There are also foods that can ease you into sleepiness (unlike alcohol, which can be disruptive to sleep). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study which showed that consuming foods that have a high Glycemic Index (GI) about four hours before bedtime helps healthy adults fall asleep quicker. Some examples would be wholegrain rice or pasta, and protein such as salmon and turkey, which is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps boost melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
10. Stretch before you hit the sack. It releases any residual tension in your body, putting you in a more relaxed mode that’s more conducive for sleeping.