Devotees at a mass Iftar near the Saudi mosque in Sharjah. Kamal Kassim / The Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
A gynaecologist/obstetrician in the UAE and a sleep specialist in the US said getting enough sleep should be in everyone’s consciousness no matter how busy or stressed one is with work and social affairs.
Aster Clinic-Dubai obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Keya Rahul was interviewed on the importance for women to get sufficient hours of sleep in relation to their reproductive health.
Cleveland Clinic-Abu Dhabi shared with Gulf Today tips from Cleveland Clinic-Sleep Disorders Centre (US) sleep specialist Dr Vaishal Shah on how to catch up with sleep with all the flurry and commitments during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Both specialists stated that enough sleep is “very important” for the sufficient release of hormones for sound health.
Shah said, “The lack of sleep affects our ability to function and it regulates the hormones that control our appetites.”
As Rahul pointed out that expectant mothers should get seven to eight hours of sleep in the night combined with 20-minute power naps in the afternoons, she also said that a minimum of six to eight hours of sleep in a day is for the effective release of reproductive hormones, and to maintain weight and cortisol balance: “Effective release means the release of hormones in the right quantity or levels at the right time.”
Shah mentioned three important factors that affect quality sleep namely “consistent sleep schedule, a sufficient period of un-interrupted sleep, and good sleep hygiene such as turning off screens, having a dark and quiet sleeping space, and allowing adequate time to relax before bedtime.”
Rahul mentioned specifics: Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin); sleep and the body’s reaction to insulin, the hormone that controls blood glucose or sugar level are tied together; and sleep also impacts on one’s immune system.
Rahul explained, “When you do not get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than well-rested. “Sleep deficiency results in higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase our risk for diabetes. It supports healthy growth and development. It triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens, that will also boost muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens and adults,” she also said, adding that reproductive health and fertility at the age of puberty are also dependent on the number of hours and quality of sleep.
Rahul continued, “Our immune system, which defends our body against foreign and harmful substances, relies on sleep to stay healthy. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way our immune system responds. If we sleep deficient, we may have trouble fighting common infections.”
Rahul explained why sleep is important for the release of the hormone cortisol she defined as “nature’s built-in alarm system in our body that works with certain parts of the brain and controls our mood, motivation and fear.”
With adequate amount of cortisol from enough hours and quality of sleep, the body will be able to regulate and use carbohydrates, fats and proteins to prevent obesity.
The lack of cortisol will lead to imbalanced blood pressure and increases blood glucose or sugar.
Shah said: “Some people will change their habits drastically during Ramadan. How they do this will depend on their lifestyle and commitments. There are steps people can take to help themselves during the Holy Month and to readjust more easily to their regular schedules afterwards.”
He recommended: “Stick to the normal daily routine of seven to nine hours of sleep and supplement this with a quick nap after Fajr. Use the reduced working hours to nap before Iftar. Simulate a nighttime environment by keeping the bedroom dark and practice good sleep hygiene with no screen, no noise and a comfortable ambient temperature.”
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