In light of World Sleep Day, experts highlight the importance of good quality sleep and preventing sleep deprivation. These recommendations follow research results, from Bupa Cromwell Hospital, which revealed that only 19 percent of Egypt residents are getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, or more, each night.
According to research commissioned by Bupa Global, a leading provider of international health insurance worldwide, 53 percent of Egypt residents get 1-2 nights of poor sleep per week, with 12 percent of respondents reporting less than 5 hours of sleep each night. Research shows that almost a quarter, or 23 percent, of Egypt residents claim that poor quality of sleep is a result of work related stress, with 30 percent stating Saturday, the night before the first working day of the week, is the night when they get the worst sleep. The research was conducted by YouGov omnibus survey with a sample size of 1004 during the period between February and March 2017.
Dr. Fiona McAndrew, general practitioner, and Ana Noia, senior clinical physiologist in the field of Neurophysiology and Sleep at the London based hospital, advise Egypt residents to address sleep related issues to help prevent risks associated with lack of sleep in the future.
Dr. McAndrew, who refers to lack of sleep as one of the most common conditions seen by GPs, highlights the importance for people to monitor their sleep and be aware of the impact of lack of sleep on their health.
“Insomnia affects about a third of the global population at some point in their lifetime. Most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but many people experience difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, frequent waking, early morning waking and difficulty getting back to sleep,” Dr McAndrew said.
He added that “Sleep is just as important for your health as diet and exercise. Sleep is vital to maintaining normal levels of cognitive skills, motivation, physical and mental health. People who do not sleep well often have complaints of memory and attention problems as well as general fatigue and lack of energy. Lack of sleep can also lead to immune deficiency and increased risk of cardiovascular problems.”
Karim Idilby, general manager for Bupa Global in Africa, India and the Middle East, stated that “Our research on sleep and wellness indicates that customers recognise some of the drivers of poor sleep and are looking for solutions to improve their overall wellbeing. A vital element of maintaining good health is working with a leading provider of international health insurance that encourages wellness and gives customers access to expert advice to address any health concerns wherever they are around the world.”
Sleep plays a vital role in ‘filing away’ memories in the brain, improving a person’s ability to learn, regulating metabolism and reducing mental fatigue. Sleeping habits can impact your appetite and weight negatively, and make you more susceptible to work accidents and longer reaction times when driving.
Tips for better sleep:
• Don’t exercise close to bed time: Exercise is a good way to exhaust your body and mind in a positive way. Just avoid doing any vigorous exercise three to four hours before bed. It elevates adrenaline levels and heart rate, which will make your falling asleep harder.
• Bye-bye technology: The blue light emitted by phones, tablets and TVs stops your body from producing the hormone melatonin, which is essential for good sleep. If you do not switch off your phone before going to bed, putting it on silent and on “night shift” (mode in which the colours of your display are shifted to the warmer end of the colour spectrum) can help you get better sleep.
• Temperature: The environment of the bedroom you sleep in plays a role in your sleep. Your bedroom needs to be cool and dark, as light and warmth slow the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone.
• 20 minute rule: If you are struggling to sleep, do not stay in bed tossing and turning. You will only get yourself frustrated and anxious, which will make it relaxing harder. If after 20 minutes you are still awake, get up and do something ‘boring’ or relaxing, such as reading or ironing, for 20 minutes then go back to bed.
• Regular bed time: A stable bedtime routine helps the heart filter out stress hormones, as well as hormones related to satiety and hunger.
• Limited nap time: Limit your nap to 45 minutes or less, especially if you need to do something when you wake up. Otherwise you might drift into REM sleep. Waking up from that stage results in sleep inertia, that grogginess and disorientation that can last for 30 minutes to an hour or more.
• Stop the caffeine: Avoid caffeine for up to 6 hours before bedtime. The effect of caffeine on sleep depends on the amount ingested throughout the day, not just at bedtime. Caffeine consumption can cause extended sleep latency, shorter total sleep time, worsening of the overall quality of sleep and shortening of deep sleep.
There are four stages of sleep. The first phase is called non-rapid eye movement (NREM). This is where most of sleeping time is spent. This phase has three different stages: N1, corresponds to feeling sleepy, N2 is a light stage of sleep, where one can easily be woken up and N3 is a period of deep sleep. The second phase is rapid eye movement sleep (REM), during which one tends to dream.