To sleep, perchance to dream
Princess Aurora in the fairy tale, whose features are said to have been inspired by the timeless beauty Audrey Hepburn.

To sleep, perchance to dream

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - October 27, 2020 - 12:00am

Quoted out of context, that line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet must be what everybody, you and me, is wishing during this pandemic that is affecting the populace’s mental health to be able to sleep soundly (uninterrupted by quick trips to the bathroom) and, yes, perchance to dream.

Because of their erratic work schedule, showbiz denizens are among those having trouble getting a good sleep.

“I am grumpy when I don’t get enough sleep,” said an actress who shuttled between two sets (one for a movie and one for a TV series) that kept her wide-awake 24 hours a day. “So I can be bitchy.”

“I can’t perform very well when I don’t sleep well,” said an actor. “I feel groggy. Catnaps between ‘takes’ don’t help.”

Asked in a STAR interview a few years ago what she considered a luxury in her life, Jessica Soho shared, “Sleep. That’s what I need. Lots of it. I’m so busy that the most that I get is six hours. Kulang.”

For the benefit not only of stars but everybody, to preserve our mental health, Funfare has sought the advice of authorities like a cardiologist (Dr. Willie Ong, this paper’s health columnist), a periodontist (Dr. Pia Achacoso), a diabetologist (Dr. Cynthia Chua-Ho), a psychologist (Randy Dellosa of his own Wellness/Life Change Recovery Center), Jeannie Goulbourn (of Hopeline Philippines, a suicide prevention and crisis support helpline, 0917-5584673 and 0918-8734673), Dr. Vivian Sarabia (“Eyewear Stylist of the Stars”) and Dr. Reginald “Reggie” Robert Tan (cornea-transplant specialist).

Now, let’s listen to Dr. Roland dela Eva, sleep disorders specialist.

Two Sleeping Beauties: Susan Roces in the Lino Brocka classic gothic drama Gumising Ka, Maruja

This pandemic has affected the sleeping habit/schedule of many people. What happens when you get only less than the standard/required eight hours per night?

“You incur debt on your sleep and if this happens for several days, your sleep debt increases and accumulates (sleep deprivation). If not paid for, the risks extend way beyond tiredness, sluggishness and sleepiness during the day to poor performance at work or school, increased risk of injury, health problems such as anxiety, mood disorders, risk for heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, obesity and weakened immune system.”

How does lack of sleep affect your moods and mental health?

“Sleep, mood and mental health are strongly interconnected. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. Sleeplessness may increase an individual’s vulnerability to depression through changes in the function of a neurotransmitter (serotonin). It can also affect the body’s stress system Most individuals become irritable, impulsive and anxious. Most would also have problems with memory, concentration and even judgement.”

Sleep specialist Dr. Roland dela Eva has been treating patients with sleep disorders (apnea, snoring, etc.). Among other tips: To avoid interrupting your sleep to pee, don't drink too much water at least two to three hours before bedtime.

Is it not advisable to take naps, otherwise, how many minutes of napping is OK so that it doesn’t keep you wide awake at night?

“For individuals with insomnia, it is not advisable. As part of our treatment regimen, we usually recommend avoidance of naps; however for the young, it is different, naps are physiologically required once or twice a day. For adults who have irresistible sleepiness during the day, a power nap maybe allowed for only 20 minutes and should not be done late in the afternoon.”

Is it safe to take sleep aid and how often should you take it; and what about red wine? Will it help?

“Taking sleep aid is safe provided that it is under a doctor’s supervision. The frequency on how often it should be taken depends on the type of insomnia an individual has (transient or chronic). The doctor may recommend nightly dose initially then depending on his discretion and the individual’s condition, he tapers or lowers the dose and frequency of intake subsequently. Of note, most sleep aids are addicting and discontinuing it abruptly can cause rebound insomnia. Alcoholic beverages are not encouraged. Although they can be soporific initially, when it starts to wear off, it usually fragments sleep.”

Many people are suffering from anxiety and other mental issues. How can sleep help minimize them?

“Having a good night sleep improves the well-being of every individual. Sleep gives an opportunity for the brain and the rest of the body to rest. It recharges the brain and improves focus, concentration and mood.”

Is it bad to watch too much TV during bedtime?

“Watching too much TV during bedtime is certainly not a good habit. It’s stimulating. It has to be emphasized that individuals must not have a TV set inside the bedroom in the first place.”

What must be done to ensure a good sleep?

“Observe discipline and a healthy lifestyle. Know when to stop. Observe regularity with things you usually do specifically your wake-up time and bedtime. Avoid any intake of stimulating drinks and food. Have a comfortable bedroom conducive to sleep. Have some morning exercise and bright light exposure. Do not over think. Learn to relax.”

If you reach the state of REM (Rapid Eye Movement), does it mean you have a restful sleep?

“Not necessarily. The best measure if you have had a restful sleep is when you feel refreshed and happy upon waking up and can stay alert and efficient the following day.”

Do exercise (and deep breathing) prepare the body for a good sleep?

“Exercise should not be done five to six hours close to bedtime. Don’t tire yourself prior to bedtime since it will make you more stimulated and awake. Relaxation techniques such as belly breathing is recommended in preparation for a good sleep.”

Is it bad to sleep with a full tummy (therefore, how soon after dinner should you sleep)?

“Give time for your tummy to digest your food before retiring to bed. Some experts say better wait for two to three hours before retiring. Having a full meal very close to bedtime can possibly cause acid reflux and if indigestion also occurs both can cause disturbed sleep.”

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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