Sleep soundly, nurture life

World Sleep Day publicly displays efforts being taken toward prevention and management of sleep disorders. In 2017, the slogan is “Sleep Soundly, Nurture Life”. This focus is purposefully broad in meaning, surrounding the message that quality of life with a sleep disorder can be improved, but recognition of sleep’s importance for overall health and wellbeing must come first. Though most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable, less than one-third of sufferers seek professional help.

We know that sleep and dreams play a vital role in our decision-making, emotional intelligence, cognitive function, productivity and creativity. Ultimately, science has proven that sleep is the ultimate performance enhancer.

Sleep Impacting Disease

Sleep has a health impact on the prevalence of natural diseases. Current research suggests stroke is more prevalent in people living with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Heart failure is also 12%-16% more prevalent in OSA patients.
With statistics like this, World Sleep Day aims to inform the world about the importance of treating even mild sleep disorders. Individuals who struggle to get an entire night’s sleep without any interruptions experience higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses.

Sleep Impacting Psychological Disorders

Studies have shown that people with insomnia suffer from more symptoms of anxiety and depression than people without insomnia. And when recording nasal airflow, breathing effort, heart rate, oxygen saturation and body position during sleep, it was revealed that individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) experienced lower quality sleep than those with no history of depression. Research is underway to better understand the link between sleep quality and mental health.

Sleep loss, energy and appetite

Sound sleep is a treasured function and one of the core pillars of health. When sleep fails, health declines, decreasing quality of life. Sleep and energy balance are essential for health. During sleep, energy is conserved due to suspended activity, movement and sensory responses, and is redirected to restore and replenish proteins and their assemblies into cellular structures.

During wakefulness, various energy-demanding activities lead to hunger. An increasing number of studies show an association between short sleep duration, sleep disturbances and circadian desynchronization of sleep with adverse metabolic traits, in particular, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Changes in the activity of neuroendocrine systems, including the stress system, seem to be major mediators of the detrimental metabolic effects of insufficient sleep, through favouring outcomes such as increased appetite and enhanced sensitivity to food stimuli. Next, making unhealthy food choices further reduced motivation for physical activity.

To help improve overall sleep and wellness, World Sleep Society has created the 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults:

1. Establish a regular bed- and waking-time.

2. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.

3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.

4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.

5. Avoid heavy, spicy or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.

6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.

7. Use comfortable, 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 sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.

Article supplied by the Hospital Particular do Algarve Group, with hospitals in Alvor and Gambelas (Faro)