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The importance of sleep

HEALTH CHAT

What is sleep? A condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.
What happens if I don’t sleep?
Some of the possible side effects of lack of sleep are;
• Obesity
• Heart disease
• Diabetes
• Fatigue
• Reduced Immunity
How much sleep do we need?
As a general rule a healthy adult needs eight hours sleep in a 24 hour cycle. Some people need more and others need less. Some situations where you would need more sleep include:
• Pregnancy
• Recovering from illness
• Extreme physical exertion (running a marathon)
What are the benefits of sleep?
Some of the benefits of good sleep are;
1. Sleep boosts immunity
2. Sleep can slim you down
3. Sleep boosts your mental wellbeing
4. Sleep prevents diabetes
5. Sleep wards off heart disease
6. Sleep increases fertility
How can we catch up on lost sleep?
If you don’t get enough sleep, there’s only one way to compensate – getting more sleep.
It won’t happen with a single early night. If you have had months of restricted sleep, you will have built up a significant sleep debt, so expect recovery to take a few weeks. Try and get an extra hour or two of sleep every night.
Do not rely on caffeine or energy drinks as a short term pick-me-up, they may boost energy and concentration temporarily, but can disrupt your sleep patterns even further in the long run.
Here are a few tips to help you get good sleep every night.
1. Create and maintain a sleep schedule
Try and go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even on days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. If you don’t fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Go back to bed when you’re tired. If you worry about falling asleep, it may be even harder to fall asleep.
2. Watch what you drink and eat
Make sure you are not hungry or too full when you go to sleep. Limit how much liquid you drink before going to bed as too much liquid may call for midnight toilet visits and disrupt sleep.
Avoid, nicotine (cigarettes), alcohol, and caffeine (coffee, redbull) before sleep as these will interrupt your sleep. Even though alcohol may make you sleepy to begin with, in the long run it will interfere with your sleep.
3. Start a bedtime ritual
Try and do the same things in the same order every night to help your body and mind wind down. You can try reading a book or listening to some soothing music, followed by a warm bath or shower.
Avoid using television as part of your routine as some research has shown that the light emissions from the television may stimulate you instead of help you sleep.
4. Get comfortable
Make sure your room is ideal for sleeping, do not keep a television in the room and make sure your curtains are capable of blocking out external light. Ensure that your mattress and pillow are comfortable, if you share a bed; make sure there is enough room for all of you to sleep comfortably.
5. Limit daytime naps
Limit yourself to about 10 to 30 minutes nap during the day and make it during the mid-afternoon, longer sleep times during the day may lead to self induced insomnia and difficulty in falling asleep in the evening.
If you work at, you may need to create your sleep ritual for the day time and try to ensure that you are able to block out external light and daytime noises to allow your body relax and sleep as it would during the night.
6. Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. Do not exercise too close to bed time as this will stimulate you, rather then relax you, if you cannot exercise in the evenings, try and get some exercise first thing in the morning.
7. Manage stress
Sleep forms part of stress management, worrying about all the work that needs to be done and the problems that need to be fixed, leads to wasted sleepless hours, which leads to exhaustion and keeps the cycle going. Try and organize your work, delegate tasks that can be done by others, and most importantly, do not think about or do work when trying to go to sleep. Give yourself permission to take a break , spend time with family or friends. Before bed, write down what’s on your mind and work on it tomorrow.
For questions email 990health@champ.org.zm

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