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Poor sleep habits can reduce longevity -Neurologist

A consultant neurologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr. Abiodun Bello, says poor sleep habits can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and kidney failures.

Dr Bello said children may sleep for about 18 hours, while adults will need eight hours of sleep to achieve good sleep.

He said, “The average baby could sleep for up to 16 or 18 hours per day. Children will need to sleep for longer hours but for adults, eight hours of sleep will be okay for them. Even for older people, the number of hours required for sleep should not reduce. And  though it may reduce a little bit, it should be around eight hours as a general rule.

“Many people sleep for five hours and they are fine; they can carry out their normal activities and they will not experience fatigue, excessive yawning, or tiredness.

Don’t enter your bedroom at night until you are ready to sleep… If someone doesn’t sleep well, the person may not live as long as the person that DOES

Meanwhile, if an eight-hour sleeper gets six or seven hours of sleep at night, he will not feel good the next day. So, for an adult, you can say an average of about eight hours of sleep.”

Speaking on the negative effects of poor sleep habits, the neurologist said it can reduce longevity.

“If someone doesn’t sleep well, the person may not live as long as the person that sleeps well. When people have poor sleep over time, it leads to some medical conditions called cardiovascular diseases which are the top causes of death worldwide.

“Those are the people that develop hypertension, diabetes, insulin resistance, and problems with cholesterol. All these can lead to stroke, disability, kidney failures, dementia and when patients have dementia, they are likely to die earlier than people that don’t.

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“Also, performance at work or school is immediately reduced. Sleep helps to consolidate memory, that is why we tell students to sleep well before an exam,” he said.

To achieve good sleep, he urged individuals to avoid buying sleeping pills over-the-counter, and to avoid taking carbonated drinks, caffeine, alcohol, and smoking.

“The first approach is to see a specialist because the treatment for poor sleep is very diverse. But at the individual level, you have to know the rules that have to do with sleeping, such as where you sleep (the bedroom), have the regular time you want to sleep, etc.

“Don’t enter your bedroom at night until you are ready to sleep. Switch off your light or have minimal lighting; and if you don’t get to sleep 30 minutes after trying to sleep, you should leave the bedroom, do something relaxing and when you start feeling sleepy again, go back to the bedroom.

“If you are someone that doesn’t sleep until 10 pm, you have to eat two and half hours before your sleep time because by that time, the food should have left your tummy. Also, avoid heavy meals at night; dinner should be light.

“Avoid drinks like tea and caffeine. Caffeine should not be taken frequently because it is going to cause slow damage to the brain over the years. Coffee can work in your body for as long as 15 hours and it is not a good thing to be drinking coffee in the afternoon. Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol, smoking, and exercising close to sleep time.

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“To sleep well at night, the best time to exercise is in the morning. If you are sleeping at 10pm, whatever exercise you are doing should stop at 6pm. Engage in relaxation exercises like yoga, which can promote sleep. If the temperature is hot, you have to find a way to make the temperature cool. Taking a shower can help.

“Don’t take assignments to your bed and keep your worries aside and sleep. It’s not the best to buy sleeping pills over the counter. If you are having pains like arthritis, prostate problems, or joint or bladder problems, you need to see a doctor for treatment to improve your sleep quality. Milk and ice cream can promote good sleep,” he advised.

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