Health & Wellbeing


You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how well? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Want to feel better, have more energy and even add years to your life? Just exercise.

The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability.

Need more convincing to get moving? Check out these seven ways exercise can lead to a happier, healthier you.

1. Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.

Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of activity is better than none at all. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key.

2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, many types of cancer, arthritis and falls. It can also help improve cognitive function and helps lower the risk of death from all causes.

3. Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious.

You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

4. Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance.

Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to snooze? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to go to sleep.

6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can improve energy levels and physical appearance, which may boost your sex life.

But there’s even more to it than that. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

7. Exercise can be fun … and social!

Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.

So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. Bored? Try something new, or do something with friends.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, boost your health and have fun. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Examples include running, walking or swimming. Fit in strength training for all the major muscle groups at least twice a week by lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing body-weight exercises.

Space out your activities throughout the week. If you want to lose weight, meet specific fitness goals or have even more benefits, you may need to increase your physical activity time.

Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.

Source: Mayo Clinic

You have probably experienced an emotional phase in your life that has negatively affected you and left you feeling gloomy. Instead of asking for help to cope better with your situation, you were afraid of seeking help because of what people might think or say. Health experts say the stigma of mental illness is rife and that’s the reason people tend to be in denial or don’t want to confront the emotions they might be going through. Psychiatrist, Dr Linessa Moodley, and clinical psychologist, Nompumelelo Kubheka, share expert advice that discredits the stigma and myths on mental illness.


The World Health Organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or illness. Mental illness and disorder can be understood as an illness that adversely affects emotions, cognition, behaviour or speech and results in deterioration in the level of functioning at work, in your personal life, family roles and responsibilities.  Dr Linessa says, “Countless people are living in stressful conditions and it comes as no surprise that mental disorders have become common. The consequences of untreated mental disorders may be severe, potentially life- threatening and adversely affect multiple domains of life.” There are multiple causes of mental illness and no one reason can be pointed out as a single cause. “Mental illness is similar as a combination of genetic predisposition (or family history), early life trauma and adversity, stressors, medical illnesses and substances, among other factors. They all influence each other and the likelihood of developing mental illness,” says Dr Linessa.



  • Persistent changes to your mood


  • Feeling that you are not coping with your day-today activities
  • Having unusual experiences such as seeing or hearing things
  • Having trouble with your memory
  • Having thoughts of harming yourself
  • Having difficulty with substance abuse.


According to the health and medical news website WebMD, these are some of the most common mental health issues:

  • Anxiety disorders: People with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread, as well as physical signs of anxiety or panic, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating.
  • Mood disorders:  These disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy or fluctuations from extreme happiness to extreme sadness.
  • Psychotic disorders:  These involve distorted awareness and thinking. One of the most common symptoms of psychotic disorders is hallucinations.
  • Eating disorders:  These involve extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviours involving weight and food.
  • Impulse control and addiction disorders: People with impulse control disorders are unable to resist urges or impulses to perform acts that could be harmful to themselves or others.
  • Personality disorders: People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and or cause problems at work, school or relationships.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): People with OCD have constant thoughts or fears that cause them to perform certain rituals or routines.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):  PTSD is a condition that can develop following a traumatic and or terrifying event, such as sexual or physical assault or the unexpected death of a loved one.


Stigma may be the reason you are suffering in silence when you have a mental illness. “Many people feel that seeing a psychiatrist means that something is very wrong and that a referral is an admission of severe illness. Few people see the role of psychiatrists as someone who helps ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations. This unfortunately means that many people who need psychiatric help don’t receive it and are left to struggle on their own unnecessarily,” says Dr Linessa. Nompumelelo says the lack of knowledge on mental illness derails the treatment process and leads to people suffering in silence. “There is a lot of poor judgement, insight and ignorance when it comes to mental illness, especially among black people. Some call it the white people’s illness and in black cultures, a man is expected to be strong and not show emotion. This is not right.”    Nompumelelo adds that people may be quick to blame witchcraft when someone has a mental illness. “For instance, someone who is from a rural area may be quick to use bewitchment as a point of reference when someone has a mental illness because of the general perception that exists in rural areas,” she says. “Mentally ill patients are called crazy, mad and dangerous and this doesn’t encourage them to get treated because some of them don’t want to be seen as different and abnormal.”


Nompumelelo says it may be difficult for people to get treatment because mental illness is not physical like a wound.  “A wound is easily treatable as it can be seen. It can also be hard for someone who is mentally ill to seek help and explain how they feel. They might prefer medication and refuse to talk about their problems.” She adds that there are different types of mental illnesses; some are chronic while others are brief. There are also different types of mental illnesses and treatment so it is always important to consult a medical practitioner to get the correct diagnosis and treatment. Dr Linessa says, “If you are worried about someone you love or care for, start by talking to them and asking how you could be of help to them. More harm may be done by avoiding the situation than by simply talking about the symptoms. Encourage them to see a professional.”


Source: Health24

Everyone gets mad, but it’s important to recognize when your anger has gotten out of control and it may be time to get professional help.

It’s just a fact of life that sometimes you’re going to get angry. But if your anger is excessive, you may require anger therapy to help keep your emotions in check. How do you know whether your anger is over the top and if anger management might be helpful to you?

“I would say that what is really important is for a person to really know themselves,” says Elena Moser, LCSW, a therapist in private practice and clinical director of the Women’s Therapy Center in El Cerrito, Calif. “If you have tended to get in trouble, interpersonally, by impulsively expressing anger, I would say hold off on expressing anger and give yourself time to cool off or talk it over. If you are the kind of person who has held back and rarely expresses anger, then you really need to think about why you are so hesitant and to practice expressing your angry feelings.”

Moser believes that expressing anger is necessary for your emotional health. But if you are having problems doing it tactfully, here are some tips to help you control your anger when it flares. Before reacting:

  • Think about your goal. Do you want to tell someone to stop a particular behavior that’s making you angry, or are you trying to get them out of your life for good?
  • Consider any power differences. Expressing anger at your boss is different from doing so with a peer or an employee. You want to tailor your approach to the person you’re talking to.
  • Strive for clear communication. “Blasting someone rarely gets you what you want,” says Moser. Instead, try and highlight your ideas about how you may be able to resolve the situation.
  • Practice. If you need a dry run with a neutral listener before talking to the person who’s made you angry, ask a friend to help and go for it. Anger therapy can also be a good place to role play such a situation.

Health and Anger Management

Faced with conflicting news and advice about how healthy it is to express anger, many women don’t know whether to throw a plate at the wall, take a walk, or reach for a glass of wine. There are some very good reasons to learn how to manage your temper, including:

  • Anger management could prevent injury. Data from 2,517 people who were admitted to the hospital due to injury in 2006 showed that about one-third felt irritable before the injury occurred, and one out of five admitted that they felt either angry or hostile. Men were at greater risk of injury while angry than women, though it’s something to be cautious about no matter your gender.
  • Anger management could help your heart. A recent study of 62 people with implanted defibrillators demonstrated that recalling anger-sparking events increased the chance that their heartbeats would become uneven (a condition known as arrhythmia) over the next three years. Other studies have shown that frequent and intense feelings of anger increase the risk of heart disease over the course of a decade.
  • Anger avoidance. Of interest to those who have a tendency to swallow their anger but then brood about the situation later: continuing to replay the events can actually lead to more anger and depression, according to a study of 52 married couples in Washington State. This is more likely to be a problem for women than men, however.

Do You Need Anger Therapy?

Getting angry when the situation calls for it is one thing; excessive anger is quite another. But how do you know if you need therapy for a problem with anger and aggression? Here are some signs that you may need help:

  • You have had trouble with the law because of impulsive actions.
  • You have unstable or broken relationships because of how you speak to people.
  • You lose jobs because of poor communication skills.

“If you think you have a problem, talk to someone you trust — a friend or family member,” says Moser. Then consider talking to a therapist. “Therapy is a great place to come in and reflect on your personal situation,” she says.

Remember, expressing anger is important and healthy, but you have a choice about how you do it. If anger is a problem for you now, a little anger management therapy can help you gain control over your emotions so you can react more appropriately as an anger-inducing situation arises.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH

On my part to discovery of self, I realized that I was uniquely made and not necessarily unfortunate as circumstances beyond my control made me perceive. First, I had to learn to love everything about myself, to be appreciative of all of my encounters and experiences that gradually sharpened me to the woman I desired to be. There were times I genuinely had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to put in more work to carve out a true virtuous woman, who was not only restricted to her strength but constantly improving on her weaknesses and one of those many aspects that I dealt with was my high tendency to put on a whole lots of weight especially “in the wrong places” if you know what I mean. I certainly could not keep up with blaming my excessive weight of over 107 kilograms (235lbs) on genetic traits or to the relatable fact that I was over 6 feet tall and didn’t even look like I weighed up to 100 kilograms (220lbs).

Subsequently, I started to weigh my options in this regard, seemingly in another five (5) to Ten (10) years I could weigh over 120 kilograms possibly due to child birth, advancement in age and bodily structure. For two years I went back and forth on different weight loss programs involving strenuous workouts, unworkable diet plans, high expenses on services, product and so on and so forth but none of these worked and my looks depreciated. I decided to find out what would be easy to come to terms with that would be time efficient and pocket friendly, over the last one year I have learnt to make MY FOOD MY MEDICINE! My solution relied absolutely on everything that went into my mouth, once I was able to cut out my excesses and develop the attitude of eating clean and eating right I lost 24 kilograms over a Year.

God made no mistakes when he created all foods, fruits and herbs from the inception of the earth. He had deliberately provided all that we would ever need in regards to our wellbeing and it indeed justifiable to say that it is a call against nature to depend on harmful chemicals packaged as foods or drugs to survive.  if 90 percent of us ate all the fresh organic products of the earth rather than processed meals packaged and sold at high prices in various stores, imagine the low rate of health challenges we would have to face in the world today.

The fact remains that most of us are not willing to sacrifice our routine lifestyle of eating for the healthier way of living. We contemplate eating fruits at our convenient time or we depend on the general view of having fruits as desert after the main course meal or not having to bother taking them at all, it is very essential for us all to know how and when different fruits should be consumed and the correct way of consumption. This goes to say that all fruits of any sorts should be taken ON AN EMPTY STOMACH this will in turn aid the detoxification of the system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss, revitalization, regeneration of dead cells and other essential bodily functions.

Fruits are the most important or vital part of our daily consumption, emphasis on fruits been the MOST IMPORTANT FOODS to be consumed. This is not at any point negotiable and because fruits cannot be taken off the menu, it is indeed compulsory to take 3 to 5 different fruits in a day or where this is not accessible certain supplements can be taken on a timely basis (I will be glad if you could send an email to find out recommendable supplements). For instance, if one eats two slice of bread and a slice of fruit the slice of fruit is ready to be absorbed by the intestines, but it prevented from doing so because of the bread present in the system. The minute the bread comes in contact with the food in the stomach and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil! The fruit mixes with the putrefying of other food and produces gas hence one bloats as a result.

A lot of issues relating to various terminal sicknesses such as cancer and other general body disorder such as the early stage of the greying of hair, balding, nervous outburst, dark circles under the eye etc. can be absolutely avoided if fruits and food are eaten the proper recommended way.

Once one has mastered the right way of eating fruits, they have the secret of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness and a standard weight. Today as a live prove of one who has experienced tremendous changes in growth and bodily development, I can confidently say am living the Health Beneficial Lifestyle and am ever so proud of my unending results. One of my daily inscriptions since I noticed the changes my body has encountered overtime is that “no one can ever go wrong with fruit dieting”. There is so much more I have to share, it is my vision to mentor over 100 people over a span of 365 days, who will deliberately decide to live a healthier lifestyle! if you are one of those and you desire to know more about fruits to eat at different times of the day, recommended fruits to hasten the weight loss process, how to maintain a healthy glowing skin and how best to consume your fruits as your food.

Ff on IG @cherishmotivation

The healthcare of children as every physician knows is very different from that of adults, while the world sees children as miniature versions of adults, in medical practice, there is a certain complexity that is associated with the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of children that is very different from that of adults.

While the emphasis of treatment in adults is measured in the accuracy of the doses of prescribing medications that of children is measured on the precision of treatment, hence there is a big difference in the management of children who are barely 1kg apart in weight, and some children can be about the same age and weigh differently, therefore, requiring different doses of the same medication whether it be drugs, intravenous fluids or blood transfusion.

In Africa and developing countries due to the underdeveloped nature of the Healthcare system, National Health Insurance Schemes are primordial levels of development, the attainment of universal health care is far-fetched and children are the worst impacted.

Unfortunately when mothers and caregivers visit the hospitals for treatment of a particular illness and medications are prescribed and the child recovers , if the same child has similar symptoms the next month, the mother who has held on to the used packaging of the previously prescribed medications goes to a local chemist or pharmacy to repeat the same prescription for an illness which she believes has similar symptoms either to avoid the cost of Investigations, consultations and other fees which the hospital may charge.

The mother or caregiver forgets that the child has since increased in weight and so the repeating the same drugs at the previous dosage prescribed is suboptimal to the child and may result in a cascade of complications which may endanger the health of the child which may include

  1. The development of Resistant strains of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa: In these days of self-prescription of medications, there is an increasing rate of development of resistant strains of Malaria, Typhoid and other parasitic infections as a result of under-dosage, lack of completion of medications and abuse. This results in thousands of children in Africa and developing world dying from complications of easily preventable illnesses and increasing the cost of treatment, hospital admissions, morbidities, and mortalities as a result of this resistant strains of pathogens.
  2. The spread of these Resistant strains: Especially for infectious illnesses, these strains can be passed on from one child to another and can cause an epidemic of resistant bacteria and protozoa requiring a tertiary level of care and increasing exponentially the cost of treatment and the disease burden.
  3. Increasing the time lag for the access of care for the child: Most times when children start manifesting symptoms of illness, using the wrong medications can keep the pathogen in a state of rapid multiplication while the child may seem better, by the time the illness re-manifest, you are now dealing with severe forms of the illness. This is typically seen by in a notorious habit of mothers/ caregivers resulting in the use of analgesics for fever. If the offending pathogen is that causing Malaria or bacteria, the fever is a sign that the pathogen is actively multiplying and releasing toxins into the bloodstream, when analgesics and antipyretics are used, the fever abates but the microorganisms are still present and actively multiplying and by the time, the fever is back, the pathogens have multiplied tenfold, resulting in sometimes overwhelming infections which may invariably lead to the death of the child.

Any doctor practicing in the region of the developing countries will agree that the common trend in the consulting rooms is that by the time mothers and presenting with very sick children they have been on all kinds of antibiotics, anti-malaria, antipyretic which have most times being underdosed or overdosed. This potentially causes significant damage to the organs such as the liver, kidney of these children whose developing organs are still sensitive to the toxic effect of the medications.

Worse still is the fact that some medications which should in no condition be used in combination because of the potent toxicity to the children and most times seen, as well as the use of banned medications, expired drugs and medications taking at adult doses are frequently occurring theme seen in consulting rooms in developing countries

So how do we solve the problem

  1. Mothers are usually advised to be minimalist in their intervention when children are seriously ill, the goal should be that of first aid if the child is an ill endeavor to ensure that that child sees a physician as soon as possible. Mothers can engage in interventions such as tepid sponging and exposing for children with high fevers, with the goal of ensuring that a physician sees the child as soon as possible.
  2. Development of regulations involving the sale of medications without doctors’ prescriptions to prevent abuse of medications.
  3. Strengthening the National regulations on Health Care and Healthcare reforms to ensure that children have easy access to healthcare.
  4. Massive health education on the dangers of self-prescription and the effect on increasing disease burden in the society

In conclusion a concerted effort by health care practitioners, institutions, government, and the family is necessary to reduce the deaths associated with children, the developing world accounts for 70% of child mortality due to poor health-seeking behavior and health education, self-prescription to avoid costs, health care practitioner mortgaging the health of child for financial benefits in chemists and pharmacies, insensitive healthcare systems and lack of political will and government policies. All poor child mortality indices which plague the developing countries.


By – Dr. Ezie Patrick C
Founding Chair; Junior Doctors of Africa, World Medical Association


Have you ever wondered why your skin feels so dry even after thoroughly moisturizing it? You begin to notice the presence of patchy white spots and flaky dead skin cells. If this is the case, re-moisturizing is only going to save you for a few minutes. The ultimate secret to a glowing skin is exfoliation.


Exfoliation is the process of removing dead, keratinized skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. It leaves the skin feeling smoother and fresher and therefore, makes it easier for skin products like serums, oils, and lotions to be absorbed into the skin’s surface. We often tend to skip this essential step of our beauty routine forgetting that it is just as important as deep cleansing and moisturizing. Exfoliation is especially of great benefit to those with oily skin. In addition to smoothing, improving skin tone and enhancing skin’s receptiveness to oil-controlling ingredients, exfoliation helps rid oily skin of dulling skin cells to help keep skin supple and clear.


There are two main types of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical – and the method you choose should be determined by your skin type. Mechanical exfoliation uses a tool, such as a brush or sponge, or a scrub to physically remove dead skin cells while chemical exfoliation uses chemicals with an acid or enzyme-based formula such as alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) such as glycolic acid or beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) such as salicylic acid to gently dissolve dead skin cells.

To prevent skin damage, take note of the following important tips:

  • Choose a method that suits your skin type: If you have a dry, sensitive or acne-prone skin, use a mild chemical exfoliator, as mechanical exfoliation may irritate your skin. Oily and thicker skin types can go for stronger chemical treatments or mechanical exfoliation. Avoid chemical or mechanical exfoliation if you have cuts, burns, injuries or acne breakouts.
  • Be gentle: If you decide to use a scrub or a chemical exfoliator, gently apply the product in small, circular motions. Do this for a few seconds, and then rinse off with warm water. If you use a sponge, use short light strokes.
  • Moisturize: Exfoliation can dry out the skin. Lock in moisture with your favourite moisturizer immediately after exfoliating to keep your skin soft, healthy and hydrated.
  • Do not over exfoliate: It is best to exfoliate twice a week. Over-exfoliation can damage the skin. If your pores are severely clogged or you suffer from acne breakouts, you can exfoliate up to three times a week.


  • It reveals a healthy, glowing skin:

When applying makeup over the dead skin, the surface begins to look uneven. As a result, your skin may appear flaky and patchy and even feel very rough in texture. By gently exfoliating dry skin cells, the skin will appear to feel smoother and look refreshed because it involves eliminating the old skin cells.  This will definitely also even out and improve the tone of your skin. Because exfoliating removes dead skin cells as well as dirt and makeup, it makes your skin tone brighter and all glowed up! Your face will get a nice little glow. “In addition to revealing fresh skin cells, exfoliating removes dead cells from pores, making them appear smaller,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a Manhattan dermatologist. Makeup also looks better, says Stalina Glot, an aesthetician at Haven Spa in New York City. “It’s like sanding a wall before you paint.” The other major perk of exfoliation is: “Removing the buildup enhances your skin’s ability to absorb everything else, from acne medicine to anti-aging serum,” Dr. Nazarian stated.

  • It reduces acne and breakouts:

Exfoliating helps to manage breakouts and acne. Many of us understand the importance of cleansing our skin with anti-breakout products but underestimate exfoliation. It helps unclog your pores and keep your skin clean, which in turn prevents you from getting acne. This is because clogged pores trap body oils under the surface of the skin, which leads to acne breakouts. A deep exfoliation will help unclog your pores from excess oil. It is important to consider that breakouts and acne are not only caused by external factors such as makeup and dirt. Therefore, if the excess oil and dirt is removed from the root of the cause, the number of breakouts will most likely reduce. A number of other factors can also cause acne problems. For instance, hormones are often major determinants of the health of the skin. Unhealthy diet, as well as stress, can also cause an increase in acne and breakouts which can be really unappealing. Regular healthy eating and detoxification can help in eliminating acne.

  • Exfoliation fights the aging process:

Exfoliating gives you a more radiant, youthful look. Old skin cells tend to exaggerate the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Although, the skin naturally sheds dead cells (a process known as desquamation), its ability to do it slows down as we get older. Exfoliating can aid the process and hide some of the evidence that we are getting older. Also, when you apply makeup over dead skin cells, the makeup will not blend into the surface of the skin properly. It will only sit on top and appear in layers. By removing dead skin cells, wrinkles and lines are less-exaggerated. Exfoliating combats or at least hides it for a longer period. Help your skin age more gracefully by exfoliating on a regular basis.

  • Allows for better absorption of skin care products:

Spending a lot of money on expensive skin care products and not benefiting from them can be really upsetting. We all have experienced this at some point in our beautiful journey. This is because we have layers of dead skin piled up. If the pores are clogged, your skincare products will not be able to successfully penetrate the deeper layers of your skin and provide your skin with the much-needed nourishment.

Without exfoliation, all other steps in your beauty and skincare routine will not be as effective as they ought to be. Don’t forget to exfoliate!


By Adebola ADUWO
(Bsc. Human Physiology)




Sleep is imperative for every human, especially for women. So what do you think will happen when disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea or recent ones like tight schedule cause you to lose sleep? Well, the implication is very simple; it affects your healthy life, particularly your heart.

The importance of sleep can never be overemphasized, the 8-hour sentence in a useless void, the research is pretty clear on this point: sleep is sacrosanct for healthy living. It helps the brain, mood, keeps you sharp, strengthens your immune system, fights inflammation, and keeps your heart and blood vessels in tip-top shape.

Shelby Freedman Harris, PsyD, Director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Centers Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City asserted that, “When you’re sleeping you’re regulating hormone levels, you’re regulating insulin levels, your blood pressure is being kept under control, there are a lot of things going on, and if you’re not getting enough sleep you’re throwing these things out of whack. While you are sleeping, the body repair damaged tissue, produces crucial hormones, and strengthens the brain a process called consolidation, which helps you perform a new skill better after sleeping than you would if you spent an equivalent amount of time awake.

Virend K. Somers, MD, a professor of medicine and cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who also studied sleep and heart health stated that “It’s a way for the body to integrate everything that happened over the past waking day and to kind of prepare for the next day.”

A Healthy heart requires good sleep
Women who get less than six hours of sleep a night, as well as ones who don’t spend enough time in the deepest stages of sleep, are at higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those who get at least seven hours.

A study in Japanese factory workers in 2011 found those who slept less than six hours a night had a five-fold increased heart attack risk over a 14-year span compared with those who logged between 7 and 8 hours a night. Another published in 2011 found that healthy women from 65 and above with normal blood pressure were nearly twice as likely to develop hypertension during the study if they spent less time in the deepest sleep stage (known as slow-wave sleep) compared with those who spent the most time deeply asleep.

There’s also some limited evidence that short-term sleep deprivation may be harmful to those with heart problems. In 2012, Swedish researchers reported that hospital admissions for heart attacks increased by about 4% in the week after the spring transition to daylight saving time compared to other weeks. This is when we “spring forward” and set our clocks an hour ahead, meaning many of us to lose an hour of sleep.

Charles Czeisler, MD, the Baldino; Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston on sleep apnea stated “It’s as if somebody’s choking you, so your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up, and instead of having a daily cycle in which everything slows down at night, instead everything is higher during the night. Over time, even your daytime blood pressure is higher.” In fact, he adds, many experts think sleep apnea may account for one-third of all cases of high blood pressure among adults.

When you feel you have not rested enough during the day and your bed partner says you snore, you should ask your doctor about sleep apnea. According to Dr. Somers “There is enough evidence out there suggesting that sleep apnea is bad that people need to take it seriously.”

Shelby Freedman Harris stated that women with less severe sleep apnea may be able to get their symptoms under control by just adopting strategies that prevent them from sleeping on their back, for example sewing a tennis ball into the front pocket of a T-shirt and wearing it backward. There are even shirts that you can buy with built-in padding to prevent back sleeping.

For more severe cases, a device can help prevent the lower jaw from falling backward into the airway, Dr. Somers says, or a face mask that delivers pressurized air into the nose (called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP) can keep the airway open at night.

Can less sleep make you fat?
Research has suggested that a lack of sleep could be contributing to problems like diabetes and weight gain- both serious health concerns. Some studies have linked shorter sleep to a greater likelihood of obesity, but whether or not sleeping less is a cause or effect of obesity remains unclear.

It is common knowledge that sleep deprivation reduces sensitivity to insulin, the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone while making it harder to metabolize blood sugar properly. Short sleep also boosts levels of hormones that make us hungry, while reducing secretion of the hormones that help us feel full. So it makes sense that being starved for sleep could lead to weight gain even if only for the fact that being awake longer gives you more time to eat.

Dr. Czeisler asserted that women who sleep less but eat more, their blood sugar goes higher and they are more resistant to the effect of insulin than if they ate the same cookie after a good night’s sleep, says. “If you are on a diet to lose weight and you’re sleeping five to six hours a night, 75% of the weight you lose will be lean body mass.”

That means just 25% of the weight you’re losing is fat, he added; when people sleep enough, fat accounts for 50% of weight loss.

Freedman Harris stated, “A lot of women who don’t get enough sleep often say they have trouble losing weight, or they have this slow weight gain.”  Often, she further stated, women who start getting treatment for sleep apnea to find that once they are sleeping better, it is easier for them to lose weight and losing weight may help lessen sleep apnea symptoms. “You don’t have to be overweight to have sleep apnea, but if you are, sometimes losing at least 10% of your body weight can reduce the severity of your sleep apnea.”

Ways to get a sufficient night’s sleep
Once you are in bed, prepared for a healthy seven or eight hours and then stare at the clock for four of them. Is all lost? If you have trouble sleeping for a few days here and there, taking steps to improve your sleep should get you back on track. And you can be assured that you have plenty of company. According to the National Sleep Foundations, 2011 Sleep in America Poll, 60% of U.S adults say they have sleep problems every night or almost every night.

Any woman who finds out that she is having sleeping problems should, first of all, take a careful look at her sleep hygiene, asserted Dr. Harris. This means organizing your surroundings and activities to promote sleep as bedtime approaches. Skip caffeine after noon, she advises (and do not forget that diet soda, herbal teas, and chocolate can contain caffeine too). Avoid alcohol or heavy meals within three hours of bedtime. “Exercise is great for sleep, especially falling asleep,” she added. You’ll get the most benefit by working out five to six hours for bedtime. A hot shower or bath about an hour and a half before bedtime can also be helpful.

Photo Source: Healthline

 “If you cannot sleep, get out of bed, go somewhere else, do something quiet, calm and relaxing, go back to bed when you are sleepy again.” Go to bed and wake up at the same time within a half hour every day.

Dr. Somers warned against making your Facebook, I-phone, or TV your final destination of the evening. Using these devices for communication is clearly eating into our sleep time, says. “People are spending more time being connected than sleeping.” Texting friends, playing computer games, or just watching TV stimulates our brains and bodies at a time when we should be winding down, and the extra light we expose ourselves to when we peer at a screen could be throwing off our body clocks.

This is because when it gets dark, our bodies release a hormone called melatonin that helps make us sleepy, and pre-bedtime bright light exposure especially exposure to the blue light emitted by screens large and small weakens melatonin release. “I have heard a lot of patients say, I’m just watching YouTube videos on my I-Phone at night.” “It might be calming, but it’s actually doing something to the melatonin in your brain. I usually tell people to cut off screen time an hour before going to bed.”

Women with long-standing, chronic insomnia need more than a sleep hygiene tune-up. A few sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of counseling designed to help people change the way they think about challenging situations like insomnia and respond more positively to them, can be helpful. Four to eight sessions are usually enough.

Virend Somers stated, “In the sleep field we actually recommend that patients do that first because it’s short-term and it’s better than getting hooked on a pill.” However, if CBT doesn’t help, medications may be necessary. “They have a place certainly, but they need to be used carefully and thoughtfully.”

“The best way to be sure that you are sleeping enough is to wake up spontaneously without the use of an alarm clock and to feel rested when you wake up. If those things happen and you are not feeling sleepy during the day, then you’re probably sleeping enough.”

Getting enough sleep plays an important role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Proper quality sleeps at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

Emekpo Charles.