World Sleep Day 2021: “Regular sleep, healthy future”

26 Mar, 2021 - 12:03 0 Views
World Sleep Day 2021: “Regular sleep, healthy future”

The Sunday Mail

ANNUALLY, the World Sleep Society committee commemorates the World Sleep Day (WSD) in March to raise awareness on the importance of having enough sleep.

The World Sleep Day annual event was pioneered by a group of dedicated healthcare providers and members of the medical community working and studying in the area of sleep medicine and research.

Accordingly, the main agenda was to bring together sleep healthcare providers for discussion and dissemination of sleep information across the globe.

Resultantly, sleep medicine professionals and researchers vehemently dismissed the belief that sleep was not important enough in personal health and wellbeing to be a priority.

As such, the founders of WSD aim to celebrate the importance of healthy sleep.

And this year’s commemorations were held on Friday March 19, 2021 under the theme: “Regular sleep, healthy future”.

In essence, the WSD 2021 focus is premised on the benefits that come with having regular sleep.

World Sleep Day is a call to all sleep professionals to advocate and educate the world on the importance of sleep in achieving optimal quality of life and equally improving global health.

According to research, stable bed-nights and rise-times are demonstrably associated with better sleep quality in people of all age groups.

On the face of it, regular sleepers usually experience better moods, improved psychomotor performances and distinguished academic achievements.

Biologically, there are two processes that physiologically regulate both the timing and length of sleep – the circadian regulation (process C) and homeostatic control process (process S).

And understanding these two processes significantly helps the world to strive towards consistent and healthy sleep patterns.

Principally, the circadian process refers to the internal biological clock.  This process is purely regulated by the part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus is a small, central region of the human brain that is responsible for maintaining the homeostasis of the body.

Crucially, the internal clock regulates and controls the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. This process is largely influenced by light and melatonin – a hormone produced at night which controls the sleep-wake cycle.

In the absence of light, melatonin is naturally produced by the human body to promote sleep. But in the presence of light, the production of melatonin ceases signalling the body that it is wake-up time.

However, human behaviour can generally override these natural signals. And many factors such as the environment, stress and medications can potentially affect sleep patterns.

On the other hand, the homeostatic process (process S) normally promotes sleep based on the prior amount of time that one spends awake.

During wakefulness, the brain naturally accumulates substances that promote sleep. But as humans sleep, these substances are systemically cleared away resulting in the body feeling alert again.

This process is particularly important when one takes a nap in the afternoon. Sleep promoting substances are significantly depleted and a person may not be able to fall asleep at a reasonable time in the evening.

Basically, the best sleep is experienced when one synchronises the sleep/wake times to the internal clock and sleep propensity. This essentially promotes a perfect equilibrium between process C and process S.

More importantly, sleep is involved with many physiological systems such as memory consolidation, control of inflammation, hormone regulation, cardiovascular regulation, and many other bodily functions.

Therefore, insufficient sleep duration and poor sleep quality are typically associated with several significant adverse health outcomes.

According to research, reduced sleep duration has been shown to cause impairments in cognitive and executive functions. And poor sleep has also been associated with poor mental health.

In addition to clinical sleep problems, poor sleep habits can potentially cause poor quality sleep in adults. And to help improve overall sleep and wellness, the World Sleep Society created 10 tips for healthier sleep in adults:

  1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
  2. If you are in a habit taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
  3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion four hours before bedtime. And do not smoke!
  4. Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
  5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods four hours before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime is acceptable.
  6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bedtime.
  7. Use comfortable and inviting bedding.
  8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
  9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
  10. Reserve your bed for sleep and avoid its use for work, or general recreation.

Everisto Mapfidze is a registered general nurse who holds a Bsc Honours in Sociology (UZ). For comments and feedback Whatsapp: 263774042111 or Facebook: Health Talk with Everisto Mapfidze.

Share This: