Beware: The sleep time bomb
There is a new culture of associating sleeplessness with hard work. It is dangerous because no one cheats nature. Society is becoming so sick that something as simple and natural as sleep can be seen as a sign of weakness or lack of commitment. Closing early has become a sign of weakness and disloyalty in many offices these days. We will return to this. For now let’s look at the larger Lagos.
The sleep walkers’ club
In Lagos, many people are cranky; people snap so easily that they seem to be perpetually on a short fuse. Science has proved repeatedly that people who don’t have enough sleep are hardly normal. Hardship and mass urban poverty seem to be the reasons some people don’t have enough sleep. It also means that to climb out of the hole of poverty, people have to work extra hard or cut corners.
In the group of sleep-deficient Lagosians are workers who transmute long distances in heavy traffic to work. In Lagos, people travel all the way from places like Okokomaiko to work every morning on Lagos Island. And they should not be late to work. Needless to talk about the large number of people who make it to various parts of Lagos from Epe, Ikorodu, etc to work and back every day.
If for some, the very early morning journey to Lagos is easy because it precedes the normal rush hour, going back isn’t. Most offices in Lagos close about the same time. Their workers pour onto the roads about the same time, and the ensuing traffic jam is hectic. Some people don’t get home until early the following morning. Yet they have to be at work at office-opening time. No excuses.
Effects of sleep deficiency
Bottom line of all this is sleep deficiency. Many of the people you see around are sleep walkers. And if you understand what that means, you are better able to handle them when they blow hot unnecessarily.
It is little wonder that so many people in Lagos are either cranky or that they look like they have been run over by trucks. Experts say, people that are sleep deprived often feel cranky because that would make the part of the brain that process emotional events to go into overdrive. Also for the part of the brain that regulates reasoning to become deactivated and this would make a person feel less stable than usual. Sleep deprivation makes the brain unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce rational responses.
That is indeed frightening, and I wonder if employers of sleep-deficient people notice declining performance curve of their staff after lunch. Lack of sleep impairs short-term memory, concentration and alertness.
Worse still, sleep deprivation each night can lead to obesity, heart disease, and illnesses. Research has proven that people who get less than seven hours of sleep each night are 30 percent more likely to be obese and women who get less than five hours of sleep each night are more likely to develop hypertension, which is a leading cause of heart disease. When a person doesn’t get enough sleep, their body produces more stress hormones and other substances that would increase inflammation, which increases the risks of heart disease and stroke.
Sleep-deficient politicians, CEOs
Lagos or Port Harcourt streets don’t have the monopoly of sleep walkers. In serene Abuja and in many political capitals, government houses, there are sleep-deficient powerful men.
So are they in corporate offices and so on. Indeed, politicians, top executives, writers and some major achievers work long hours, and they seem to have created an association between short sleep hours and success in a manner that is becoming a fad.
Some political office holders don’t seem to sleep at all. They work all day, and in the night go into long meetings. So one wonders how they cope. They are sleep-deficient? Yes. Nobody cheats nature, not even the most powerful person on earth. So, do sleep-deficient politicians suffer any form of abnormality? Well, this has not been scientifically proven, but it may not be ruled out. Some of them have short fuses like Lagos sleep walkers. I know one or two.
The new culture of sleeplessness
It seems as though 24/7 not only means the ability to access anything, anytime, anywhere, it also means that if you are going to be seen as worthwhile, you too will run 24/7. Many people seem to ignore connection between sleep issues and stress and vice-versa.
Yet, studies show that sleep is important for cellular renewal, helping to replace muscle tissue and dead cells throughout the body. Studies have also shown that sleep is a key time for the brain to process and archive information, including memories. Deep, restorative REM sleep, seems to stimulate regions of the brain used in learning.
The sad truth
Every night without adequate rest is like adding to a sleep debt—eventually it will have to be repaid. Even after one sleepless night, we can feel the first effects of sleep deprivation—irritability, memory loss, and drowsiness. Continued sleep deprivation can result in trouble concentrating, blurry vision, impaired judgment, and even more severe mental effects. After just a few days without any sleep, people can begin to experience hallucinations, mania, and nausea.