How sleep-deprived are you?
WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

We all have our reasons for scrimping on sleep. Beating deadlines, red eye flights, cramming homework, preparing for an exam, watching over a loved one in the hospital, depression, and other unusual events are just some of the many reasons.

The manifestations of sleep deprivation are undeniable: excessive daytime sleepiness, constant yawning, moody and irritable disposition, inability to concentrate, difficulty in learning, fatigue, lack of motivation, forgetfulness, depression, clumsiness, increased appetite and craving for carbohydrates.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) of the United States recommended in 2015 the appropriate sleep duration for specific age groups. They said newborn babies until three months old need 14 to 17 hours of sleep every day. That drops to 12 to 15 hours for four to eleven-month-old infants. Toddlers from one to two years of age need 11 to 14 hours of sleep. Pre-schoolers aged three to five years old need 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day while school children from six to 13 years old require nine to 11 hours of sleep. Teens from 14 to 17 years old need eight to 10 hours of sleep while adults from 18 to 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep. Seniors aged 65 and above need seven to 8 hours of sleep.

According to, “after around 16 hours of staying awake, the body attempts to balance the need for sleep. If sleep is thwarted, the brain obtains sleep through short sleep attacks (microsleeps). This is an uncontrollable brain response that renders a person unable to process environmental stimulation and sensory information for a brief amount of time. A person’s eyes often remain open during microsleeps, but they are essentially ‘zoned out.’ As the nature of these attacks is sudden, for a sleep-deprived individual operating heavy machinery or driving, the consequences can be catastrophic to both the individual, as well as innocent bystanders.”

They further warned that “a person who has gone for even one night without sleep is as impaired as a legally intoxicated individual. After only 16 hours of continually being awake, most individuals begin to show a substantial slowing of reaction time. Because it is used extensively during normal waking hours, the brain’s prefrontal cortex is particularly vulnerable to the effects of sleep loss. It alters normal functioning of attention and disrupts the ability to focus on environmental sensory input.”

While it may be easier to recover from one or two nights of sleep deprivation, too much loss of sleep results in accumulated sleep debt. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of the book Real Cause, Real Cure, listed several habits that can lead to better sleep, which he called good sleep hygiene.

First, he advised to stop taking caffeine after four in the afternoon. “The caffeine in coffee, tea, cola, and in chocolate stimulates your nervous system, and jumpy nerves aren’t very conducive to falling asleep,” he said. He recommended that it is best to just take caffeine in the morning.

Slip into sleep

Dr. Jacob also said that it is best to exercise early. “Exercise is stimulating, too.  Try to schedule your workout early in the day or at the latest, right after dinner.”  What you should schedule though before bedtime is a hot bath that “will soothe your mind and relax your muscles, allowing you to slip into sleep.”

“Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.  If you use the bedroom as a place to work and pay your bills and problem solve… it’s less likely you’ll find it easy to relax and sleep there. So, don’t use your bedroom for work you’ve brought home from the office, for household tasks, or for personal problem solving,” he added.

“If your mind is racing when it’s time to sleep, there are ways to shift it to a lower, sleep-friendly gear. After turning out the light and putting your head on the pillow, focus your thoughts on the things that feel good and don’t require concentration or problem solving. A happy moment with your children or grandchildren. The peaceful face of a spiritual figure. A double rainbow,” Dr. Jacob continued.

He also recommended that you make a list of your problems, then forget about them since anxiety will keep us tossing and turning in bed.

I recommend that you end the day in prayer, thanking the Lord for all the blessings and surrendering your problems to Him.

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