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Insufficient sleep affects general wellbeing – Expert

By Chioma Obinna

Sleep has been described by different people in different ways. Some see sleep as the golden chain that ties health and bodies together while some say it is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

How much do you know about sleep?  Are you the types that just work all through the night without sufficient hours of sleep?   Then you have to have a rethink. This is because experts who gathered at Mouka Limited World Sleep Day with the theme: “Good Sleep, Healthy Aging” in Lagos last week say insufficient sleep reduces quality of life and affects general wellbeing of individual.

An Associate Professor and Consultant Neurologist, College of Medicine University of Lagos, Dr. Njideka Okubadejo in a lecture during the seminar lamented that estimated 63 million Nigerians are affected by sleep problems.  According to Okubadejo, “Sleep problems threaten health (physical and mental health), quality of life and are more profound in our modern society.

Why do we sleep?  She said: “Sleep is a natural process controlled by the human brain and restores body functions. Many major restorative functions in the body (e.g. muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release) occur mostly, or only, during sleep.”

Okubadejo who noted that sleep promotes energy conservation added that individuals sleep because it helps the brain development and improves ability to learn and perform variety of tasks as well as boosts immune system.

Regretting that many Nigerians do not get enough sleep, she said insufficient sleep generally results in increased sleepiness, poor performance and increased health risks even mortality.

Describing sufficient sleep as sleep duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening and leaves one feeling refreshed and alert for the day, she stated: “Good quality sleep is essential for day to day functioning and good quality of life while poor quality sleep is characterised by frequent interruptions and lighter sleep. The consultant neurologist, recommended sleep duration for infants 14 to 15 hours a day, toddlers – 12 to 14 hours, school – age children 10 to 11 hours and adults 7 to 9 hours respectively.

She further identified factors such as poor sleep hygiene, lifestyle, psychosocial/emotional stress, stimulants and drugs amongst others as things that interrupt good sleep.  On sleep tips for adult, she advised individuals to establish a regular bedtime and waking time.  “If taking siestas, don’t exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep. Avoid excessive alcohol 3- 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke. Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime.

Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods four hours before bedtime amongst others.  On tips for best sleeping position, she advised: “Try to maintain the curve in your back. Lay on your back with pillow under knees. Lay on your back with lumbar roll under lower back. Lay on your side with knees slightly bent.  Do not sleep on side with knees drawn up to chest. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Select a firm mattress.

On her part, the Managing Director, Mouka Limited, Mrs. Peju Adebajo, while highlighting the theme said people spend one third of their lives sleeping to show significance of sleep in life.


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