Sleep is a natural episodic postponement of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored, according to experts.
Normally, sleep in countries with good timing is done during the night, when the surrounding is quite and calm. Just like healthy eating, good and regular sleep is a key component to a healthy life.
Good nutrition combined with regular physical activity and sufficient hours of sleep promote good health. The more you make your body get used to not sleeping, the more you ruin it. Respect the time you sleep.
A jet lagged friend narrates a story of the time his sleeping habit was disorganised by the different timing he experienced when he went to Japan. He says that for sometime he could not sleep because their sleeping time was formally his day time.
Japan is ahead of Rwanda by about 7 hours, and so the time his body would be active for work and so on was the time he was supposed to sleep. For this reason it took him time to cope because of continuous stress and a weary feeling.
“I remember one time one of my African friends woke up at around 3 am thinking it was 8 am, he thought he was late for the next programme. We could be in bed when it is shining out,” he narrated some of the reasons one may lose sleep.
Health experts say that extreme temperatures either too hot or too cold are among common causes of sleeplessness.
Poor sleeping habits and the use of certain drugs and medications can also affect the ability to sleep restfully. They also assert that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things one can do for oneself.
“Your body and brain “recharge” themselves during sleep - so if you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t be at your best the next day”.
They further explain that lack of sleep can make performing even simple tasks difficult, impairments such as short-term memory, concentration and alertness. Increase the chance of being in an accident, slow your body’s ability to fight disease and repair tissue.
In most cases people who do not get sleep in a normal way find themselves exhausted and worn out even in the morning, they also feel sleepy during the day and need more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. Wake up frequently during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
However, different people have different sleep problems, while some people find it hard to have at least three hours of sleep; some find it difficult to even wake up after more than eight hours sleeping.
“When I sleep at 8 pm, I get full time sleep (without waking up in the night) and I wake up at 5 am. I sleep for those hours depending on the programme for the next day. When I get a chance to sleep for those hours, it helps me a lot,” a driver, Freddy Sibomana says.
He adds that enough sleep makes him wake up with much energy and in good mood. He also points out that when he sleeps late, for example if he sleeps at 2 am, he wakes up feeling sleepy, sickly and stressed.
He also says that when he sleeps during the day, he feels sickly. And when he delays to sleep, he takes more than 30 minutes to get sleep yet when he goes to bed early he gets to sleep immediately.
According to Harriet Tona, the time she loses sleep is when she is stressed or anxious about something. She says that she tries to be asleep and shuts her eyes but it does not work out because the mind keeps awake.
A report from the Rwanda Health Communication Centre on behaviour change says that sleep is divided into six stages, and not all of them have the same impact on the recovering of the body.
The stages are cyclical and a full cycle takes about 100 minutes. The good deep sleep stage takes place during only one of these stages and lasts for only about 20 minutes.
To have enough good recuperative sleep (about one hour and half), a person needs about 8 hours of sleep during the night.
It is also important to mention that going to bed always at the same time helps your body to establish a biorhythm that will facilitate getting asleep faster and benefit from the good sleep.
The cyclical process of sleep explains why sometimes even if you slept for an hour you do not feel rested and your brain is not at its full capacity of concentration. The same reason explains the difficulty to fall asleep after staying awake later than normal.
Sleep deprivation can lead to growth and development delays, to depression, irritability, and later to cardiac troubles or brain disorders.
Time spent in bed does not matter, what matters most is the type (worthiness) of the sleep. It’s important to get an uninterrupted, restful night’s sleep.
Health experts give some tips for a good night’s sleep:
• Avoid substances that may cause sleep disturbances. Rather than relax you, drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco before bedtime may keep you awake. Drink caffeine in moderation, and not in the afternoon or evening.
• Get regular exercise, but avoid strenuous exercise two hours prior to bedtime. Exercise may “wake up” your body so that you can’t sleep.
• Don’t eat a heavy meal just before bedtime. Digesting a heavy meal may make you too uncomfortable to sleep.
• Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Many people find that routine behavior helps them get a good night’s sleep. Don’t focus on your worries before bedtime. Anxiety is one of the most common causes of sleeplessness.
• If sleeplessness persists continuously for more than two weeks, consult your doctor.