Fenix Fitness The Science of Better Sleep: How to Optimise Your Nighttime Routine

Importance of Good Sleep Hygiene

Poor sleep has a negative impact on both our physical and mental health. Without enough good quality sleep, in the right proportions of deep, light and REM sleep, we may experience brain fog, a shorter attention span, poor decision-making, as well as higher stress, anxiety and irritation (Starkman, 2022).

In the long run, sleep deprivation weakens our immune system, can cause hormone-related problems, as well as increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety (Starkman, 2022).

So, what does good sleep look like? According to sleep experts, healthy sleep encompasses three major things:

  • How much sleep you get
  • Sleep quality—that you get uninterrupted and refreshing sleep
  • A consistent sleep schedule

(Wein, 2022)

TL;DR: Getting enough, uninterrupted sleep and keeping a regular sleep schedule is key to good sleep hygiene, which affects our physical and mental health.

How Much Sleep Do We Need

Although we often hear recommendations that adults need an average of 7 to 9 hours per night, it really depends on a few factors. In some instances, you might require more rest — such as when you’re sick, pregnant, or recovering from strenuous exercise like after running a marathon (Robinson, 2022).

Research also suggests that while it is normal to find it harder to fall asleep as you age, that doesn’t mean that the amount of sleep you need necessarily declines, so it is important to continue working on good sleep hygiene (Chaput et al., 2018).

Generally, it’s safe to assume that you are getting enough sleep if you wake up feeling well rested and can perform well during the day (Chaput et al., 2018)

TL;DR: Understand your body in the context of your age and lifestyle to know how much sleep you need, because it can be a bit different for everyone.

How To Improve Sleep Quality and Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

1. Avoid Caffeine 8-10 Hours Before Bed

People tend to consume caffeine because of difficulty getting up, daytime sleepiness, or trouble focusing, but these could also be signs of poor sleep. According to research, it is important to refrain from substantial caffeine use at least eight hours prior to sleep. This is because the stimulating effects of a single dose of caffeine can last up to eight hours and with every additional serving of caffeine, it takes longer for the effect to wear off (Moreno, 2023).

2. Avoid Electronics and Stimulating Activities Before Bed

Set boundaries and have a specific cut off time for use of your electronic devices. This means not only putting our work laptop away well before our intended sleep time, but also our phones and tablets too. This is because these back-lit devices emit blue light, which has been proven to reduce our natural production of melatonin – the sleep hormone – in the evening, which decreases our feelings of sleepiness and makes it harder to fall into a good quality sleep (Pacheco, 2022).

3. Avoid Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

It’s the clock that is going TikTok

Do you often catch yourself mindlessly scrolling at 2am although you know that it’s already way past your bedtime? According to research, many people get caught in this cycle of ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ because they feel a need to reclaim time for themselves, ‘freeing’ themselves from the constant demands of their jobs, before they go to sleep (Chee, 2021). However, doing this leads to sleep debt which makes functioning well in the daytime a lot harder.

4. Avoid Overeating or Undereating Before Bed

Eating too much, especially heavy or spicy food, can affect our digestion and increases the risk of heartburn (Suni, 2022). Sleep experts also advise against eating too close to bedtime because research has shown that eating closer to our bedtime  than three hours before increases the likelihood of us having disrupted sleep (Suni, 2022).

The converse is also true, as a rumbling stomach can keep you from falling asleep and can wake you up. If you are hungry, consider eating a small healthy snack such as an apple or whole-wheat crackers (2021).

5. Avoid Drinking Water Close to Bedtime

Are you waking up several times a night to go to the bathroom? While it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, you may need to limit your water and fluid intake in the two hours before bedtime to prevent being woken up in the middle of the night (Anthony, 2018).

Try and find your optimal daily hours of sleep, naps count towards the total

6. Don’t Overdo Your Naps

For many adults, naps can help with overcoming daytime fatigue and even boost physical performance. Experts recommend that the optimum nap length is about 20 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes (Summer, 2023). Napping longer than that often leads to grogginess and can undermine the original purpose of your nap. In addition, the later you nap in your day, the more trouble you may have falling asleep at bedtime.

7. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Create a healthy routine around your sleep by keeping to a fixed time for going to sleep and for waking-up. According to Singapore’s Health Promotion Board, it is important to do this even during the weekends (2022). As your body clock is stabilised, it will be easier for you to fall asleep and wake up in the mornings (2022).

8. Create a Comfortable and Conducive Sleep Environment

Keep your room temperature cool at from 18 to 22 degrees. Otherwise, you could use a ceiling fan or open your windows when temperatures are lower. Keep your room dark by covering electronic lights before bed and drawing the curtains. If necessary, block out noise with earplugs.

9. Get Exposure to Natural Light in the Day

Circadian rhythms are biological patterns across each 24-hour period. One of the most noticeable circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle, which determines a person’s level of sleepiness throughout the day and night (Whittle, 2023).

Did you know that light, especially sunlight, is one of the key drivers of circadian rhythms that can encourage quality sleep? (Suni, 2023) Try to get natural light for at least 30 mins every day, preferably in the early to mid-day, and clock your steps while you’re at it. Bright sunlight exposure in the late afternoon can interfere with your ability to fall asleep that night.

10. Explore Journaling, Mindfulness and Meditation

Get the thoughts out of your head before bed

When we still have a lot on our mind at bedtime, that can prevent us from falling asleep easily. Research suggests that journaling helps many people to calm bedtime anxiety or their worries about uncompleted tasks. Specifically, making to-do lists has been useful in reducing the time it takes to fall asleep (Scullin et al., 2018).

According to the Sleep Foundation, “Meditation is considered a type of mind-body therapy, because meditation techniques often combine mental work with physical aspects such as deep breathing. By targeting both anxious thoughts and physical stress symptoms, sleep meditation aims to bring about overall relaxation that helps prepare the body for sleep.” (Summer, 2022) In doing so, it often encompasses the idea of mindfulness or a focus in the present moment. For more ideas on meditation for sleep, refer to this article.

11. Try passive stretching

Stretching is a natural and effective strategy for muscle relaxation (Summer, 2023). You may want to include some static stretches one hour before bedtime, holding each position between 10 and 30 seconds each time. You may also want to practise deep breathing while stretching. For more ideas on stretching poses, refer to this article.

12. Try Moderate-Intensity Exercises Such as Resistance Training

More energy and better sleep, it’s a good deal

Studies have shown that moderate intensity physical activity and resistance exercise has a positive effect on the quality of sleep (Kline, 2015). However, poor sleep may also be a key impediment to maintaining a physically active lifestyle.

Unsure where to start with improving your sleep quality? Our FENIX Coaches are here for you. We believe in holistic wellness so we are not only here to help you with strength training, but also to help you build good habits relating to your sleep hygiene and your nutrition as well.

Book your FREE consultation and Fit3D scan here to start your journey today.

This article was produced by Cherrell Ng with contributions by Coaches Jia Min, Darsh, Derek, and Jon.

Works Cited

Anthony, K. (2018, September 18). Drinking water before bed: Is it healthy? Healthline. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/drinking-water-before-bed#negative-effects

Chaput, J.-P., Dutil, C., & Sampasa-Kanyinga, H. (2018). Sleeping hours: What is the ideal number and how does age impact this? Nature and science of sleep. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30568521/

Chee, M. (2021). Commentary: Revenge bedtime procrastination in Singapore is coming at a cost. CNA. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/revenge-bedtime-procrastination-sleep-difficulty-falling-asleep-1840801

Kline, C. E. (2015). The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications … National Library of Medicine. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1559827614544437

Robinson, M. (2022, December 14). Why you don’t necessarily need eight hours of sleep. Shape. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.shape.com/how-much-sleep-do-you-need-6891319

Scullin, M. K., Krueger, M. L., Ballard, H. K., Pruett, N., & Bliwise, D. L. (2018, January). The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists. Journal of experimental psychology. General. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758411/

Summer, J. (2022, December 16). Meditation and sleep. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/meditation-for-sleep

Summer, J. (2023, February 23). 14 stretches to do before bed for Better Sleep. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/stretching-before-bed

Summer, J. (2023, February 23). Napping: Benefits and tips. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/napping

Suni, E. (2023, February 23). What is sleep hygiene? Sleep Foundation. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene

Moreno, A. (2023, February 9). What time should you stop drinking caffeine? The Sleep Doctor. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://thesleepdoctor.com/nutrition/what-time-to-stop-drinking-caffeine/

Pacheco, D. (2022, October 19). How sleep works: Understanding the science of sleep. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works

Wein, H. (Ed.). (2022, July 15). Good sleep for good health. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2021/04/good-sleep-good-health

Whittle, M. (2023, January 6). Circadian rhythm: What is it and how it affects sleep. The Sleep Doctor. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://thesleepdoctor.com/circadian-rhythm/

3 ways to improve sleep quality. HealthHub. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1189/are-you-getting-quality-sleep

8 secrets to a good night’s sleep. Harvard Health. (2021, September 30). Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/8-secrets-to-a-good-nights-sleep

Article produced by the

Fenix Fitness Logo

Operations & Coaching Team

Evidence-based Fenix Coaching Programs

Looking for a Sanctuary? Our Location


Transformational Personal Training BECOME YOUR BEST SELF

Effective - Caring - Passionate Our Focus is on YOU

We are aware that a realistic plan to increase strength and build muscle is a game changer in an age of overwhelming demands and distractions.

Our coaches listen to your needs and work closely with you from Day 1 so that you feel confident in achieving your goals and sustaining results.

This personalised attention enables us to structure the most effective programme for you and sets us far apart from other strength training gyms.

The FENIX Experience will Fuel your Transformation LET US EMPOWER YOU TO SUSTAIN LIFELONG RESULTS

Our Coaches are Ready for You START YOUR JOURNEY TODAY