The lack of sleep is usually associated with an increased risk of heart disease, depression, diabetes, hypertension and sexual disfunction. A new study by international researchers from the University of California (UC Berkeley) now suggests that a lack of sleep could even be making people more selfish and less willing to help others. Here is how you can get your “ZZZs” on for the sake of Ubuntu.
Sleep is incredibly important for maintaining optimal health and well-being, yet most South Africans are getting insufficient sleep. This according to the sleep tracking app, Sleep Cycle that says the people Mzansi are getting fewer sleeping hours than any other nation resulting in a sleep deprived population facing several health risks.
“When it comes to human physical and mental health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet,” says dietitian, Mbali Mapholi.
“When we don’t get enough sleep, it doesn’t just affect our mood, it impacts every aspect of daily life and poses significant health risks including impaired brain activity, depression, diabetes and heart disease.”
No sleep makes you nasty
In a recent study by UC Berkeley research scientist Eti Ben Simon and professor of psychology Mathew Walker found that inadequate sleep not only harms your mental and physical well-being it also compromises the bonds between people.
“This new work demonstrates that a lack of sleep not only damages the health of an individual, but degrades social interactions between individuals.
Walker is the author of the international bestseller Why We Sleep. “Sleep may be a wonderful ingredient that enables the alacrity of helping between human beings.”
While Ben Simon adds that it is time for society to abandon the idea that sleep is unnecessary or a waste. She says sleep is the best for of kindness we not only offer ourselves but also the people around us.
“If you’re not getting enough sleep, it doesn’t just hurt your own well-being, it hurts the well-being of your entire social circle, including strangers.”
Try these top tips for top sleep
Mapholi who is also a partner dietitian for Tetley Tea, shares five tips for improving sleep:
Keep a regular sleep routine
Going to sleep at the same time each night, even on weekends – helps the body recognise rest times. Being consistent reinforces the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Dietitian tip: If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, leave the bedroom and do something relaxing such as reading a book. Do not scroll your phone or watch TV.
Hydrate well in the evening
Although drinking lots of liquids right before bed is probably not a great idea as it could result in frequent trips to the bathroom during the night, it’s important to get sufficient hydration in the evening in order to get a good night’s sleep.
Drinks that are free from caffeine and sugar are preferable. Chamomile tea, which is made from the chamomile flower and is naturally caffeine-free, is a great option as it has been used to promote sleep and relaxation for generations. Research has shown that chamomile may be used to successfully treat insomnia and induce sedation (calming effects).
Dietitian tip: Try Chamomile as part of your evening wind down, it is naturally caffeine free and has all the benefits of Chamomile.
Engage in daily physical activities
Keeping active during the day is important as it improves sleep quality. However, it’s best not to be active too close to bedtime as this can have the opposite effect.
Dietitian tip: Find physical activities that you actually enjoy, and make them part of your daily routine. Rather than exercising late at night, go to bed earlier and wake up in the morning for an early morning workout before the day’s routine starts.
Adopt a good bedtime routine
Adults need to establish a good bedtime routine just like children. Research shows that those who follow bedtime routines are more likely to go to sleep earlier, take less time falling asleep, sleep longer, and wake up less during the night.
Dietitian tip: Identify your bedtime routine and try to stick with it. Have a shower or bath, have a cup of Chamomile tea while journaling or listening to music, or read.
Limit daytime naps
A short nap in the mid-afternoon can boost memory, improve production and brain performance, lift one’s mood, improve alertness and ease stress. But if these naps go on too long or happen too often in the day, they can impact sleep at night.
Dietitian tip: Set an alarm during daytime naps to help you stick to the planned nap time.