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Salamat Dok: ZZZzzz…What’s the Big Deal?

Posted at | Updated as of 01/02/11 4:45 AM

You are not a rock fan but your colleagues see you head-banging at your work station. Somebody taps at you. You suddenly appreciate and fall in love with your boss because it was just a gentle tap and she didn’t shout at you. It’s the middle of the day and you fell asleep! You simply couldn’t control your eyes.

Common reasons of being caught sleeping at work -- not able to sleep well last night and sleepy sickness. In the U.S., 70 million have sleep disorders and experts recorded that 95% people worldwide have been diagnosed with sleeping problems.

There are many types of sleep problems and disorders. Dr. Aristotle Josef Anguluan, Internal Medicine Specialist and Corporate Physician and Wellness Program Lecturer at Maxicare Healthcare says, “Common cause is work-related – the journalists, health care providers, call center employees, law enforcement and military personnel –- those who work in perpetual graveyard are the usual victims. They experience distorted sleeping patterns that’s why it’s hard for them to go to sleep.”

Sleeping, just like eating, is an integral part of one’s health. Medical experts say we need at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. It has been proven that sleep at night is still the best time to rest our tired body after a hard day’s work. It is during sleep that the body releases hormones that repair damaged cells. Doctors suggest that a person should already be asleep before 11:00 p.m. because that’s when our stress glands, the adrenals, recharge or recover mostly.

 “Many are used to a 5-hour sleep but this habit makes you prone to illnesses. Also, it’s not just hitting the sack early and achieving an 8-hour routine, the most important thing is the quality of sleep,” says Dr. Anguluan.

Lack of sleep brings a lot of disadvantages. Aside from irritability, a person easily gets tired, experiences slow body and brain functions, easily catches illness, prone to stress, wrinkles and sagging skin, and worst – dies early! 

Case Study – Medical Practitioner

Funny and friendly, that’s Jay, a nurse. But he is sometimes irritable due to lack of sleep which also affects his productivity.  “I feel heavy and very sleepy at work. Sometimes I’m late. I work from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m.. When I get home, I sleep. What’s hard is I can’t sleep at night before I go to work. From the time I wake up, I’m awake up to my working hours,” says Jay.

He is also prone to colds, cough and sore throat. He even gained weight due to too much eating. Not to mention, he snores big time.  “I really gained weight up to 88 kilos. This is funny but the dog barks whenever I snore, which makes it even more annoying to the people inside the house. I also experience difficulty of breathing whenever I’m asleep and when I wake up; I feel heaviness on my chest. To avoid continuous disruption in his work, Jay thought of a way to counter his sleeping problem.

Case Study – Call Center Agent

Cesar Atienza has been working as a call center agent for 6 years now. He falls on different shifting schedules but most of the time, he’s on graveyard shift. He said it’s hard and his sleeping pattern is mostly affected. “Whenever our clients are Australians, we follow their time zone. If it’s Middle East, we change work schedules. One time, I blacked out from lack of sleep. I’m not sure if it’s due to lack of sleep, fatigue or low blood count,” narrates Cesar. He’s been suffering from sleeping problems. He can’t put his tired body to sleep. He even avoids the sun because it has an effect on him.

“I become irritable which is a no-no in my line of work. I’m prone to common sickness like colds and fever. To cope up, I eat a lot and make sure to take Vitamin C regularly,” adds Cesar.

The Doctor’s Note 

Too much eating. “Because of stress and lack of sleep, the body craves for carbohydrates but these do not have caloric value. When the body does not burn these carbohydrates, it becomes fat. When one acquires more fats, one is then prone to obstructive sleep apnea.  You notice big, fat people, who have short necks – they are prone to this,” says Dr. Anguluan

Stress. To those who are stressed out, like Jay and Cesar, doctors recommend that when you initiate sleep, we need to tone down or tune off. Decrease stimulus – light, noise, heat and avoid thinking about work. There should be zero stimulants – turn off TV, radio, internet and cell phones.

Colds, Cough and Sore Throat. Experts says that when a person lacks sleep, the immune system is weak and that makes us prone to common illnesses.
Working Time. Dr. Anguluan suggests, “Those who are on shifting schedule must follow what they call ‘forward shift’ at the hospitals. If you are on 6am-2pm shift, when the schedule rotates, you should choose the 2pm-10pm shift. Your body will get used to it.

The Body Cycle

When the body changes its cycle, like turning the night into a day, it damages the natural system of the body and affects the following:

  • Temperature
  • Digestion
  • Blood Pressure
  • Pulse
  • Hormone production

The Effects of Shifting Schedule

  •   Slow digestion which hamper bowel movement
  • Decreases appetite
  • Thread of ulcer
  • Aggravates diabetes, asthma and depression
  • Heart problems

Tips for a good night sleep

Sleep ritual

  • Set a regular sleep schedule
  • Make yourself comfortable.
  • Take a bath; go to a cool, silent and dark room. Temperature should be moderate.
  • Relax your brain when you are already lying in bed.
  • If you are still awake after 20 minutes, do something that relaxes you -- read a book or listen to soft music.

What you should eat

  • Eat a little when you arrive home.
  •  Avoid hard-to-digest foods, soft drinks, chocolate drinks or any drinks with caffeine.
  • Take herbal teas like chamomile. It decreases stress level.
  • Take melatonin supplements. It stimulates melatonin hormones released by the pineal gland that dictates the body to go to sleep.
  • You can also try these options:
    • Put 2 tablespoon of honey in 1 glass of water. Drink this before you sleep; or
    • Crush a banana and put cumin seeds. Eat this after dinner; or 
    • Drink a glass of milk. Add honey if you desire.
    • Avoid salty, sweet and fatty foods. Eat food rich in Vitamin B like whole grain cereals and nuts.

Recent Studies

There are many available studies about sleep issues, problems, disorders and the like. There’s an interesting recent study that says lack of sleep affects extroverts the most (http://bit.ly/eHCTdI). For you to under more of this concern, here are some related readings:  

  • A good night sleep is key to beauty  http://www.thelocal.se/30890/20101216/
  • Study: Lack of sleep may ease painful memories http://bit.ly/fxhBw
  • Regular bedtime makes children smarter http://bit.ly/eyYGlM
  • Texting before going to bed affects sleep and mood http://bit.ly/f95bei

November 14, 2010