Today, 16th March, 2018, is celebrated as the World Sleep Day. Despite the fact that sleep is a gift from nature to allow man revitalize in readiness for the task ahead, some individuals still do not enjoy sound sleep. Below are five frequently asked questions about sleep.
1. What is sleep? It is a suspended state of consciousness, with the organs and systems in less activity than when the individual is awake.
2. What is the recommended duration of sleep? The average time required for sleep varies with age. While newborn babies need an average of 14-17 hours of sleep, adults (older than 18 years of age) need 7-9 hours of sleep in a day.
3. What causes poor sleep? Sleep may be poor in duration or quality or both. Some individuals may sleep for the required duration but do not feel refreshed when awake. A few conditions that can affect one’s sleep include anxiety disorders, mood disorders (depression or mania), stress, thyroid disease, heart and kidney diseases, and substance abuse.
4. What is the effect of inadequate sleep on the individual? Being deprived of adequate sleep increases the risk of obesity; reduces concentration; reduces tolerance and productivity. In acute infections, inadequate sleep slows down the rate of recovery.
5. What lifestyle measures help to improve one’s sleep? Before the use of medication is recommended, the following sleep hygiene tips help to improve sleep duration and quality.
• Appropriate dietary habit: Avoid heavy meals at night; avoid eating within two hours of bed time, avoid fluids within one hour of bed time.
• Empty your bladder before going to sleep. This may reduce the urge to wake up to urinate.
• A cool shower before going to bed would hasten onset of sleep.
• Avoid living in bed: Individuals who work from home or are on holidays are advised to avoid spending the day time in their bed. It creates a feeling of familiarity with the bed. At bed time later at night, sleep may become difficult as the bed has lost its comfort.
• Ensure the bed is well laid before sleeping. This helps to remove particles that can irritate the skin and impair sleep.
• Change bedsheets regularly. This helps the bed to provide the cool feel necessary to aid sleep.