South Africans aren’t getting enough sleep

South Africans aren’t getting enough sleep

By Contributor

Did you know that South Africans sleep fewer hours than any other nation in the world? Here are five tips to help you get a better night’s sleep …

Getting to sleep

According to sleep tracking app, Sleep Cycle, South Africans clock fewer sleeping hours than any other nation in the world.

Sleep therapists advise getting up to eight hours of sleep each night, but as we approach World Sleep Day (18 March), it’s clear that the average adult is still not getting enough rest.

The Westin Cape Town Hotel, has introduced a sleep-well food menu for each guest as part of their sleep well movement, and aims to raise awareness about the importance of this issue by having staff work from a bed in the hotel lobby for the day.

Underlying reasons for sleep issues

“Sleep deprivation is a problem in our modern society, and it’s important to encourage rest wherever possible,” says Rob Kucera, Westin General Manager. Busy schedules are usually to blame, but there are often underlying reasons for sleeping issues that go untreated.

“Treating the symptoms is important, but it’s just as important to get to the root cause of sleeping issues,” says Marlene Gounder from Sleep Disorder Centre at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town. “For example, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common sleep disorders that goes undiagnosed, leaving a person feeling tired all day without understanding why.”

The risk factors involved in lack of sleep is fast becoming widely known, such as impaired brain activity, memory problems, weight gain, depression, diabetes and heart disease.

“Identifying if you may have a clinical sleeping disorder relies on being able to look out for the signs. If you or someone you know experiences loud snoring, morning headaches, mood changes, occasional gasping or choking for air, you may be at risk of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders,” says Gounder.

5 Top tips for a good night’s sleep

  • Consistency is key – try keeping a schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time. Avoid sleeping in on the weekends to keep on track with your body’s sleeping schedule.
  • Time your exercise – exercise elevates body temperature and stimulates hormones like cortisol. For some people, it can take longer for the body temperature to cool down to a temperature that is conducive to sleep. Try to get your workout done in the morning, and if this is not possible, up to from three to six hours before bed time.
  • De-plug from electronics – avoid TV time and other electronics up to two hours before bed time. Light can disrupt the body’s rhythms, especially the blue light emitted by electronics. Keep your room dark and cool.
  • You are what you eat – caffeine can interfere with sleep up to twelve hours after consumption. So it makes sense to eliminate all caffeine completely, or stop drinking it by midday. Avoid rich foods before bedtime and eat foods with the right amino acids, vitamins and minerals that promote rest.
  • Get out of your head – the mind needs to be calm and stress free when you are trying to fall asleep. Find techniques that work for you. This could be meditation, breathing or muscle relaxation techniques. You can also keep a journal to write down your thoughts or to-do list before bedtime.
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