If you are battling with insomnia, especially as an entrepreneur, we’ve saved you a trip to the doctors…
A loud clang echoes around the house as you drop the cup in the sink, resulting in your housemate muttering under their breath about how getting any sleep at night is a hard task with you always crawling around. Back in bed, you pull up your blanket and stare at the ceiling for an extra hour, getting increasingly anxious about how many precious hours of sleep you’re losing; how you’re probably going to be dozing at your workshop tomorrow while your customer breathes down your neck (over the phone) about the delay in getting their order.
In recognition of the “World Sleep Day” March 19th, 2021 themed “Regular Sleep, Healthy Future” and because being at your best as a “crenovative” entrepreneur is our sole concern at Saloretun, we took the liberty of speaking with a certified Family Medical Doctor, Dr. Ebele Uzo-Peters who provided us with quick and effective hacks to fall asleep, alternative medicine practices, and his advice on whether or not we should use drugs to fall asleep. Read the full interview below.
Please introduce yourself to us.
My name is Ebele Uzo-Peters. I am a University of Ibadan trained medical doctor, in specialty training in family medicine, a specialty of medicine which provides comprehensive care to the individual regardless of their age or background, and in the context of the family and community.
Please share an overview of Insomnia especially as it relates to its causes.
“In the morning you beg to sleep more, in the afternoon you are dying to sleep, and at night you refuse to sleep.” ― Unknown
As cycles make the world go round so do sleep-wake cycles drive function in the human body. The sleep-wake cycle is like a clock in your brain that tells you when to sleep and wake which usually coincides with day (wake) and night (sleep). Sleep is a basic human need and getting adequate sleep is bedrock for a healthy person. At every stage of life development, there’s an average number of sleep hours required by the body to sustain health and wellness. This can be likened to charging a lamp, if you charge the lamp according to the manual, it becomes fully powered and vice versa. Sleep is a way to “recharge and power-up” the body. When the body is unable to sleep, it starts to feel effects like tiredness, drowsiness, irritability, lack of concentration, easy susceptibility to illness, etc.
Insomnia simply means disruption in sleep. It can present as not being able to fall asleep, sustain sleep that is frequent nighttime awakenings or waking up too early, difficulty with going back to sleep after waking up during the night, or not feeling rested on waking. Globally, Insomnia is one of the commonest challenges that people deal with and it can be short-lived or chronic. Some common causes of insomnia are life-stressors or stressful events like the effects of the ongoing COVID pandemic, death of a loved one, financial instability, school or workload and so on… unhealthy sleep habits/hygiene like drinking caffeine at night, not having a consistent bedtime, staying up on social media for extended hours, eating late at night and so on… health conditions like depression, anxiety, asthma, sleep apnea amongst others. The above causes interfere with the regular sleep-wake pattern resulting in poor sleep and sometimes complete lack of sleep.
Is it advisable to use drugs to combat Insomnia?
The journey to a healthy sleep pattern or combating insomnia isn’t going to happen overnight so take a deep breath and extend grace to yourself. There are various strategies you can employ to deal with insomnia. Usually, the simplest strategy is to remove yourself from an inciting stressor or reducing the stressor. Insomnia may be due to health conditions and in such cases is usually managed by treating the underlying condition.
Other strategies include practicing healthy sleep habits, sleep restriction by avoiding napping during the day, being active during the day, making your bedroom more comfortable, using your bed only for sleep, and spending only your sleeping hours in bed (get out of bed when you are not sleeping), relaxation techniques (massage, warm bath, reading, low lights, soft music, deep breathing…); and finally, medications.
Of note, although medications can be very effective for helping with insomnia, they should be prescribed by your healthcare provider. If you buy them over the counter, you should inform your healthcare provider and use them for short periods only.
What do you think about unorthodox remedies and practices to combat Insomnia?
Some alternative medicine practices that have been beneficial for insomnia are Valerian root, Chamomile tea, and Acupuncture. They may be quite effective, however, because regulatory bodies do not routinely require manufacturers and providers of these remedies to show safety or efficacy before marketing them, the key piece of advice is to always inform and involve your healthcare provider before using or engaging in the practices.
What would you advise an insomniac to stay away from?
Insomnia can be a very challenging and lonely journey. Things to stay away from include coffee drinks, tobacco, alcohol, large meals and drinks before bedtime as you may have to get up several times to pass urine. A very important one is pain – whether physical or emotional pain. It will keep you up at night. Try to resolve pain as much as possible.
Lastly, could you share a quick hack to fall asleep?
A quick hack to help with sleep lies in modifying your winding-down process at the end of the day. This can be very difficult to do, here are some tips:
– Stay away from your electronic devices (phones, tablets, and computers) at least 2 hours before you go to bed. Yes, this may seem impracticable but rest assured that it is possible
– Paced breathing, breathe in for 4 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds. Do this several times. It has a deeply calming effect on your faculties.
– If you usually feel amped up or stressed out (the kind that keeps you awake and tossing about) just before bed, place an ice pack on your forehead for some minutes.
Be encouraged that bad sleep habits can be broken in your step-by-step journey towards “Regular Sleep, Healthy Future”.
On this note “Crenovator”, we wish you restful nights ahead. Cheers to “Regular Sleep, Healthy Future”.
Featured Image: Dr. Ebele Uzo-Peters.