February 4

“WHY WE DON’T SLEEP”

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“Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief norishers in life’s feast”- MACBETH

“We are all shift Workers. Which Kind of Shift Worker Are You?” Most of us have busy lives and unfortunately, we only have 24 hours in a day and 4,000 weeks to live on Earth! “When you don’t sleep well, your memory, learning, coordination, decision making, ordinances, and even your creativity degrade”.

Sleep is mysterious like Consciousness. In Sleep and Dream Folklore, Hypnos is the god of sleep, rest, and relaxation. In the absence of disease, there are three foundations of a healthy Lifestyle: nutrition, exercise, and most importantly sleep. Its complexity is fascinating even in animals “Elephant never forgets”. Sleep plays an important role in memory processes (store, recall and integrate) and learning! If you are a parent scientist like me you don’t need to turn to “animal studies” but certainly we can study the effects of sleep on our children or pets! My daughter plays one of the musical instruments and she is a dedicated member of her Music Band and often hear her practice her instrument before she goes to bed most nights (evening routine). She often interrupts me for feedback, she will play a piece of music with nonesuch artistry that I can only admire as a proud father. I certainly don’t know anything about music but would give her my full attention and would ask her what was different from the first and second pieces of music she played and what she needs to do differently to achieve her Music Goal. I would remind her “Good Deliberate Practice with good sleep makes perfect”. Deliberate Practice is one of my special interests and we would take a deep dive in my future Blog post, please remind of this subject because my two children who are keen observers think, “I rarely remember anything”, especially when am sleep deprived. “Jesus Christ!” I am grateful that have a cup of coffee as am I writing this blog to reduce my sleep debt, and improve my focus and memory!

On March 23rd, 1989 the Exxon Valdez left Alaska at Midnight bound for Long Beach, California but never made it out of Alaska. From Automobile Accidents to lost productivity at work to Major Disasters, such as the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Sleep Deprivation has tied a heavy toll on Society as a whole. Consider nuclear accidents: Chornobyl nuclear accident occurred near the city of Pripyat in the Soviet Union. And then there are the infamous Industrial Accidents, such as the Union Carbide Accident in Bhopal, which occurred at midnight. My neighbor who is a Firefighter told me “Falling asleep at the wheel contributes to an estimated 10,000 automobile deaths in the United States and by principle, he doesn’t make any major decisions during his Shift work”.

Sleep is one of the most fascinating topics and scientists are still trying to figure this out! I found sleep deprivation and its impact reverting particularly in my own life and among colleagues during my Psychiatry Training in England. From my recollection, I only had 2-hour lectures on the Science of Sleep until someone introduced me to Prof Mathew Walker and thereafter became a disciple of the Sleep Evangelist (wearing my Oura ring) on acute psychiatry wards! Could this be the elephant in the room during your next consultation with your family physician? Please don’t get me wrong Health Care Workers are well-intentioned people but diagnoses are a grotesque parody of human thought and downright misuse of human intelligence.

Back to my Adventure, we were expected to work over 24 hours as part of on-call (sometimes 48 hours) without sleep. I was angry when I suddenly received a letter from DVLA alleging that I was driving over 35km/hr. (on 30km/hr. road) during my nighthawking. I have heard frightening stories from medical mess colleagues who slept behind the wheel as they drove from borough to borough from dusk to dawn. A few months later, I attended a refresher-driving course that took place in the beautiful garden of Kent. When I protested during the breakout session that I was only adhering to the Hippocratic oath, the White Middle-aged gentleman with a Birmingham accent looked at me with utter disbelief in his eyes. A colleague who sat across from me joined the conversation and asked a rhetorical question, does the “power that be” want to drive us to our early grave or do they want us to cut corners? This is a serious ethical question to ponder upon. The refresher course was a breath of fresh air and reminded me of my responsibility and the potential consequences when I am sleep-deprived behind the wheel. I drove back home on M25 introspecting about what and who matters in my life. I didn’t leave the uncanny interpretation to Morpheus the god of dreams.

According to Prof Matthew Walker, Sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Inadequate sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Insufficient sleep –even moderate reduction disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your Heart blood vessels becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Furthermore, Sleep disruption contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality.

Twelve Tips for Healthy Sleep: (I am a work in progress with these tips!)

  1. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
  2. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day
  3. Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine, too late in the evening
  4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
  5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
  6. If possible avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep
  7. Don’t take naps after 3 pm
  8. Relax before bed
  9. Take a hot bath before bed
  10. Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom.
  11. Have the right sunlight exposure
  12. Don’t lie in bed awake.

“MAINTAINING ORDER rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure a disease after it has manifested is like digging a well when one feels thirsty or forging a weapon when the war has already begun”.

I’d liked to know what you think about this Blog. Please join the conversation and share your comments about your sleep!

Also, let us know how we can improve this platform to serve the Community.

BLOG edited by Annabelle

GLOSSARY:

  1. Barger, et al, “Impact of Extended –duration Shifts on medical errors, Adverse Events, and Attentional Failures.
  2. National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, Wake up America
  3. WHY we sleep, Mathew Walker
  4. Circadian Code, Satchin Panda

Tags

Community, dementia, evening routine, Public Health, Sleep


About the Author

Niran (Larinde) Ojomo is a Trusted Advisor, COACH, Speaker and Trainer certified with the Maxwell Leadership Team. He is the founder of Forward-Thinking Generation Next, a forward-thinking organization that challenges individuals and organizations to re-invent themselves, anticipate and adapt to the future and be culturally relevant in an increasingly complex globalized world.

Niran Ojomo

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