The World Sleep Day is designed to raise awareness on the importance of sleep to the body. OYEYEMI GBENGA-MUSTAPHA and Ovwe Medeme write on how to observe sleep to boost life.
A psychiatrist and sleep specialist has said sleep is vital to the body and should be properly observed. Dr Adefemi Adeoye stated this at the opening of a sleep laboratory at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.
According to the University of Toronto graduate, sleep should not be disrupted because one is expected to spend up to one-third of his life sleeping.
Adeoye said there is a “normal” amount of sleep to be observed or one would break down.
Adeoye said: “There is an average sleep time by age. Newborn –16 ½ hours daily; two years are expected to sleep for 14 hours (1 ½ of nap and 11 hours of night sleep). A six-year-old should sleep for 11 hours, 10-year for 10 hours. While 15 – 19-year are expected to sleep for seven and half to eight and half hours. These figures are just averages and in case your child does not fit into these, do not panic, especially if they are functioning well during the day.’’
How does one get enough sleep? Adeoye said one could help the body synchronise to a regular 24-hour cycle by maintaining regular bed and wake times.
Ten Commandments for quality sleep
On how to obtain quality sleep, the expert said: ‘’Fix a bedtime and an awakening time. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of sleep. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion four hours before bedtime and do not smoke. Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods four hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable. Exercise regularly, but this is not right before bed. Use comfortable bedding. Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well-ventilated. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex. Don’t use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room.’’
Listing how to preserve a sleep rhythm, Adeoye said it is by minimising fluctuations of bed and wake times to less than half an hour. ‘’Resist the impulse to nap or stay inactive during the day. Instead, maximise your activity during the day through exercises, outdoor activities, and by limiting daytime napping. Synchronise your body’s master clock (the suprachiasmatic nucleus), to external environmental cues by limiting light exposure at night and obtaining bright outdoor light exposure earlier in the day,’’ he said.
Advice to children, adults
Adeoye advised children to go to bed at the same time every night, preferably before 9:00PM. ‘’Have an age-appropriate nap schedule. Establish a consistent bedtime routine. Make your child’s bedroom sleep conducive – cool, dark, and quiet. Encourage your child to fall asleep independently. Avoid bright light at bedtime and during the night, and increase light exposure in the morning. Avoid heavy meals and vigorous exercise close to bedtime. Keep all electronics, including televisions, computers, and cell phones, out of the bedroom and limit the use of electronics before bedtime. Avoid caffeine, including many sodas, coffee, and teas (as well as iced tea). Keep a regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.’’
Adeoye cautioned on sleep disrupters. He said: “Be mindful of rhythm ‘disrupters’ that can delay your natural sleep-wake inclinations. Avoid heavy or spicy meals close to bedtime and limit caffeine to earlier in the day. Monitor the effects of stimulating activities, such as exercise, media, or work in the hours before bed. Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders. It may also take you longer to recover from illness.’’
Pointing out the effects of sleep deprivation, Adeoye said sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life for up to 45 percent of the world’s population. Most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable, yet less than one-third of sufferers seek professional help.
“Sleep has its functions. Though not well understood; for instance, when we sleep, we dream. Why do we dream? So, sleep is a basic human need, and crucial to our overall health and well-being. It helps establish biologic functions – restoration of body, brain and neuro-cognition; anabolic hormones like growth hormone are released during sleep.
“Sleep helps in energy conservation. It boosts immunity. It reduces severity of age-related chronic diseases. It is essential for learning and memory (motor skill learning, Higher level cognitive function slow wave sleep (SWS), and rapid eye movement (REM) and reduces mortality rate from all causes,’’ he added.
Adeoye urged Nigerians aspire to get a sound sleep. He listed the components of a sound sleep as: ‘’Duration – the length of sleep should be sufficient for the sleeper to be rested and alert the following day. Continuity- sleep periods should be seamless without fragmentation. And Depth- sleep should be deep enough to be restorative.”
When sleep is not properly observed, Adeoye said it affects one. ‘’Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep is known to have a significant negative impact on our health in the short and long term. Next day effects of poor quality sleep include a negative impact on our attention span, memory recall and learning.
“Longer-term effects are being studied, but poor quality sleep or sleep deprivation has been associated with significant health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, weakened immune systems and even some cancers. Lack of sleep is related to many psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychosis. Quality sleep is crucial to ensure good health and quality of life,” he explained.
According to Adeoye, there are about 100 disorders of sleep, but most are manageable with the help of specialists. Individuals with good quality sleep have lower rates of High Blood Pressure (HBP), Diabetes Mellitus (DM), obesity and other chronic illnesses.
“Sleep disorders cause significant individual and societal burden and form a serious public health problem. Affects a person’s mood and the way in which they are able to perform daily activities and interact socially.
Adeoye said many people are sufferering from sleep disorder. He explained: “The extent of the epidemic is as follows: 35 percent of people do not feel they get enough sleep, impacting their physical and mental health. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects approximately four percent of the adults. Insomnia affects between 30-45 percent of the adults.
“Primary insomnia (insomnia with no underlying condition) affects one to 10 percent of the population, increasing up to 25 percent in the elderly. More research needed to be done on insomnia, as more are vulnerable to accidents- insomnia are seven times more likely to become involved in an accident causing death or serious injury. It can affect work performance (reduced job prospects and loss of employment).”
Adeoye said though OSA is prevalent, it is well recognised. A study estimated a prevalence of 17 percent among men and nine percent among women in the United States.
In children, sleep apnea may be the cause of neuropsychological disturbances. Pediatric sleep apnea is typically associated with adenotonsillar hypertrophy, he added.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.’’
Where to get help
Patients suffering from sleep problems should see a physician or an expert at a sleep centre.
Meanwhile, Vitafoam Nigeria Plc has donated mattresses to the sleep laboratory at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba Lagos.
According to the firm’s management, the donation of the mattresses formed part of its corporate initiatives to boost the government’s efforts to create a conducive environment for psychiatric patients.
Vitafoam’s Group Managing Director, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, represented by the Technical and Development Director, Mr Abaggana Abatcha explained that sound sleep aids memory, repair cells and enhance the physical and the psychology of an individual.
“This year, beyond providing quality sleep products like mattress, pillows, duvet, bed sheet and beds to Nigerians, Vitafoam is giving back to the society by furnishing the first Government Sleep Laboratory at Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital Yaba, with quality mattresses, pillows, beds, duvet and bedsheets, to enhance the sleeping conditions of people with sleep challenges.
“Also, this year, we created sleep corners in all our comfort centres in Lagos and provided sleep specialist to give free consultation to our customers during the World Sleep Day. We are committed to producing quality and innovative products that will support sleep and we will continue to support the World Sleep Day in creating sleep awareness to enable Nigerians achieve a good night’s sleep, so we can produce better leaders for our beloved country Nigeria,” he said.
The hospital’s Medical Director Dr Yemi Ogun praised Vitafoam for the gesture.
She said: “Sleep is important in the lives of human beings. We are involved in investigating sleep disorders, so they are our partners. Sleep is restorative. It is good for the metabolism. It is also good for children. Anyone who is having health challenges should see a physician.’’