March 17th has been dubbed World Sleep Day, which posits the question “Do we really need a day to remember that we all love to sleep?” Apparently, yes, we do. Research conducted by Bupa Global, a leading provider of international health insurance worldwide, revealed that a only a staggering 19% of Egyptians get the recommended eight hours of sleep or more each night. This means that around 80% of the Egyptian population is prone to risks associated with lack of sleep.
Sleep is not just an activity to pass the time until the sun comes out and we can go about our business. Sleep is associated with a few of our vital processes, which include;
- ‘filing away’ memories in our brain
- improving our ability to learn
- regulating metabolism
- reducing mental fatigue
According to Bupa Global 53% of Egypt’s residents get 1-2 nights of poor sleep per week, with 12% of respondents reporting less than 5 hours of sleep each night. As adults, we need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night to keep both our physical and mental health in check. Dr Fiona McAndrew, General Practitioner at Bupa Cromwell Hospital remarked 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.”
Bupa recommends the following tips for better sleep:
- Don’t exercise close to bedtime: Avoid doing any vigorous exercise three to four hours before bed as it elevates adrenaline levels and heart rate, which will make falling asleep harder.
- Bye-bye technology: The blue light emitted by electronics 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” can help you get better sleep.
- Temperature: The environment of your bedroom plays a vital 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. If after 20 minutes you are still awake, get up and do something relaxed, such as reading or ironing, for 20 minutes then go back to bed.
- Regular bed time: Set a stable bedtime as this 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. More than 45 mins and you will enter REM sleep, which causes the disorientation feeling you get when you wake up that can last for 30 minutes or more.
- Stop the caffeine: Avoid caffeine for at least 6 hours before going to bed as caffeine consumption can cause extended sleep latency, shorter total sleep time, a worsening in the quality of sleep.
Research showed that almost a quarter of Egypt’s residents noted that poor quality sleep is mainly due to work related stress, with 30% of them claiming that Saturday is the night they get the worst sleep of the week. So for the sake of your health, your appetite, your weight and your overall well-being take advantage of this World Sleep Day to distress and try to have a good night’s sleep.