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“Sleep” is a very important part of your everyday life.  Whether you are able to sleep well during the night determines your mental state on the following day.  Everyone has the experience of sleeping badly and even staying awake all night.  Studies have shown that the older you get, the more likely you find difficulty in sleeping, and that accounts to 35% of people over the age of 70, the chances of women suffering from insomnia are higher than men.  In fact, regardless of whether men or women have entered the stage of menopause, hormone levels drop and menopausal symptoms (link to ) would inevitably appear.  Insomnia is one of the common characteristics.
Since insomnia is so common, let us study more about the subject so as to learn how to sleep better.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder.  Encountering an experience of insomnia does not mean having an insomnia problem.  So, under what circumstances does insomnia become a problem that requires our attention?
According to DSM-IV of the American Psychiatric Association, there are two major criteria in diagnosing sleep disorders: 1. Sleeping problems persist for more than one month;  2. Sleeping problems bring about anxiety, tiredness, and worries or result in deterioration of work function and role damage. On the other hand, ICD-10 of the World Health Organization defines insomnia as follows:
  • Difficult to go into sleep or remain sleeping or have quality sleep
  • Such sleeping problems occur at least three nights per week and last for at least one month
  • Wary about the effects of not sleeping well throughout the day
  • Daily life affected by the distress resulting from sleeping badly
Insomnia can be broadly divided into: difficulty in going into sleep, difficulty in remaining  sleeping, unable to get back to sleep after waking in early morning, and unable to regain a fresh mind or remove fatigue after long hours of sleep.  In most cases, people with insomnia would experience two or more of the above situations.
Chronic sleeping problems
One must not ignore the negative impact from chronic and persistent sleeping problems:
  • poorer performance at work or study
  • Slower response in driving, resulting in a higher risk of accidents
  • Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder or over-reliance on drugs
  • Increased risk and severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease
Therefore, if you have experienced the above situation during your sleep and the situation has lasted for a relatively long period or affected your quality of life, you should consider seeking advice from your family doctor or other medical practitioners on how to deal with insomnia.
Pay attention to sleep hygiene
"sleep hygiene" actually refers to the alteration of lifestyle to improve the quality of sleep.  People today are busy and are always in a rush.  We may not be aware that it is already a problem and do not realize that these daily habits could be affecting the quality of our sleep.

Here are some tips for sleeping:
  1. Create a sleep-friendly environment: get for yourself a comfortable pillow and suitable mattress; create a quiet environment and reduce the brightness of the room; keep the alarm clock away from the bed; pull down the curtains, etc. In addition, if the room is too cold or too hot, try to adjust the room temperature to allow yourself to sleep in a comfortable environment.
  1. Develop a good pattern for rest: go to bed and get up at a regular time and turn off your phone and go to bed as early as possible.
  1. Avoid having a very full meal during dinner. Also avoid drinks or foods with caffeine-within four hours before going to bed, as caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep. In fact, besides coffee and tea, many drinks and foods contain caffeine, such as: chocolate, Soda, etc. Do check the contents of the drinks or foods you eat if they contain caffeine, so as not to affect the quality of your sleep.
  1. Avoid getting emotional before bedtime. Try to let go your worries and relax befroe sleep.
  1. Avoid working, watching TV or reading on the bed, so as not to affect sleeping.
  1. Cultivate some pre-bedtime habits, such as taking a hot bath, drinking a cup of hot milk, gently combing your hair or massaging your scalp with your fingers, listening a relaxing piece of music.
  1. Regular exercise helps improve the quality of sleep. The recommendation is to exercise at least three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes , but avoid vigorous physical activity before bedtime .
  1. If you cannot sleep within 15 minutes, do get up and do some relaxing activities until you feel sleepy.

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