Health + Wellness

The Issue With Late Nights

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Expect bleary eyes in the days to come as football fans stay up to watch the World Cup telecasts beamed from Brazil.

With the 2014 World Cup, consecutive late nights over the next three weeks or more will cause you to be drowsy during the day and have a poorer attention span, which can be detrimental to your daily activities.

Sleepiness is linked to the chemical known as adenosine, which builds up in your blood when energy is being expended. When the brain senses adenosine in the blood, it is then notified that rest is required. And as you keep yourself awake throughout the day, blood adenosine levels rise continuously, resulting in you becoming sleepier as the day progresses. Conversely as you sleep, adenosine production declines and the chemical is broken down by the enzymes in your body, hence reducing the blood adenosine levels in the brain.

With this World Cup, it is believed that many of the football fans will be deprived of several nights of good restful sleep, and in the process accumulate adenosine and incur sleep debt. Sleep pressure then starts to occur, as you might end up being sleepy during the day and finding it hard to concentrate on tasks which require attention and vigilance, like driving or operating machinery and run the risks of accidents occurring. Some of you might also find yourselves more irascible due to lack of sleep and this doesn’t help especially if you’ve just watched the host nation beat the stuffing out of your favourite team.

As with any debt, sleep has to be repaid for your well being. The only way to pay back is by catching up on sleep through naps, going to bed earlier the next day or sleeping in on weekends, but we all know this will not happen this month. What’s most likely going to happen is Fragmented Sleep – which is falling asleep for a few hours and then waking up to catch a televised match, this however does not mitigate the problem but instead worsens it, so choose the matches you want to watch wisely, instead of catching all of them. The right thing to do when paying off sleep debt is recovery sleep, and as mentioned earlier, adenosine levels are greatly reduced when ‘rebound’ deep sleep occurs during recovery, resulting in improved mental and physical capabilities that come with being well-rested.

Tips For A Restful Sleep

  • Sleep in a completely cool, quiet and dark room to enhance melatonin production, an important sleep-regulating hormone.
  • Drink warm milk before bed, as milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep.
  • Do include carbohydrates as part of your dinner as it helps produce serotonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
  • Don’t drink any caffeinated beverages at least four hours before your scheduled bed time as caffeine blocks adenosine receptors.
  • Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid as it causes restless sleep.
  • Also refrain from adrenal stimulators such as sugary foods and nicotine products.




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