How much debts have youths to pay?

Nowadays, insomnia is one big worm Nigerian youths belly; almost invariably this may result from anxiety, abuse of tobacco, alcohol and various illicit drugs, problems of marital life, socio-economic challenges, and many more mind-burdening issues precipitating stress amongst youths. Insomnia is defined medically as inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for an adequate length of time, so that one gets fatigued almost always. Some Surveys have shown that 30% of young to middle aged adults suffer from lack of sleep and this figure rises as we grow older. So if you suffer from insomnia you are not alone, and in a way or the other, everyone would have experienced at least an episode of in-ability to sleep or poor quality of sleep. This is because the most reported cause of poor sleep among Nigerian youths is anxiety! Alas, this echoes a point of note, right? In that case, take a pause and try to recall the number of times you had problems sleeping basically because you had to think about one thing or the other, for me, it’s uncountable. Clifton Fadiman once said, ‘insomnia is a gross feeder, it will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking’. In some cases, workers may overbear themselves with too many works with too little sleep, this usually results in self-imposed poor sleep and consequently manifesting as too many impending dangers, which alter the productivity of a nation’s labour force.

Few years ago, I had the privilege of ‘interrogating’ the culprit of a road traffic accident; he was in his late 20s and the driver of the lite-Hiace passenger bus in question. The event happened in the evening of a working day and for the first time I witnessed the full scene of a road tragedy. The passenger bus was coming with high speed from one of the two lanes of an unpaired road. Crossing over to the bus’s lane were two primary school girls, on noticing that a bus was speeding in their direction, one of the girls raced back, while with confusion, the other lingered on as the racing bus wasted no time in knocking her on the hard asphaltic road. The bus veered off lane and crashed into a road side cavern. Although the driver had long tried launching the break but he was too late at the time he spotted the poor girl. The whole street was thrown into a state of standstill as the girl lay dying on the road. For almost 10minutes, I remained in shock myself. Appallingly, there was large quantity of blood gushing on the road from the girls head as her blood pressure dropped. Then a taxi was stopped to convey the little girl to the nearest hospital.

Most often, road traffic crashes in Nigeria are complicated by bad and damaged roads, however, in the event where there is barely any implicated road factor like pot-holes, one then wonders whether the cause of such accident is the victim’s fault or the driver’s. Some minutes after the girl had been rushed to the hospital, I recovered from my shock, and then with the truest alacrity, I rode a motorcycle to the same hospital she was conveyed. On getting there, she had been transferred to the accident and emergency theater where an emergency suture was to be done on her head, so I ran in with my students’ identification card. Inside, the girl was laid on the operation bed with two intravenous lines–one with a wide-bore canula gushing litres of fluid into her system and the other was put in place for blood transfusion as we awaited blood from blood bank. Her hair had already been shaved off! As one of the theatre staffs rotated the roof-lamp on her head, I saw the extent of the damage; her scalp was deeply torn at different points on her blood-soaked head. Unfortunately, there were just four hands on ground that night; a surgeon and an intern–both on call, a nurse and an attendant staff. So I volunteered my assistance, and for the next four hours we were operating and battling to save the poor girl’s life.
The following day I was at the emergency ward where she was transferred to from the theatre and dozing terribly beside her bed was the bus driver. On interrogating the youthful man for the cause of the accident, he claimed he never drank before driving and he was non-smoker, however I discovered he had another job aside commercial driving where he took night shift a night before the crash. Although, cases of automobile drivers dozing off on steering wheel is a major cause of road traffic accidents, on the other hand, there have been reported cases of commuters sleepwalking on the road as they were knocked by vehicles. In either ways, a history of poor and inadequate sleep has been implicated.

Amidst students of Nigerian institutions, poor sleep most often results from exam related anxiety or from abuse of caffeine for studying. A research carried out by H-Chronicle Network amongst selected students of a Nigerian university that sat for a semester exam, shows that 40% of those that eventually failed only slept for a maximum of 4hours prior to the examination day, 15% had one form of panic or another before and on examination day, while 40% had inadequate preparations, remaining percentage failed from non-specific causes. The great pressure associated with learning in Nigeria sometimes makes students forget sleep as an integral part of learning routine, while the body actively takes part in learning during the day, at night while the body sleeps, the brain processes information acquired while awake, such that when the body wakes the following morning, there is a better recall of learnt events. A student’s normal daily schedule may include, an early morning visit to the bathroom after which he takes his breakfast and sets out for class activities. At the end of the normal school hour, he might decide to study briefly at the library before leaving for home to continue his daily routine. Assiduously, the same student might still be working at about 10pm, however at this point the body had worked enough hours and would ideally need some refreshment in form of a sleep, or at least a short nap if at all there are yet to be completed schedules for that day. In cases when adequate sleep does not form an integral part of a student’s routine, grave dangers that could hamper the gross academic performance and provoke ill-health then set in.

In addition to poor academic performance, a young Nigerian adult suffering from poor sleep may demonstrate poor quality of life on campus, at home or at place of work. Sleep-deprived youth frequently cut back on the activities they enjoy because of lack of energy, this in a way decreases the youthful productivity of a nation. More often, those in school may find it difficult combining efficiently academics with useful extracurricular activities, with a noticeable increase in error rate. Those in the working class may cultivate an unconscious habit of sleeping at work and could lead to embarrassment from co-workers and employer, denial of job promotion or even termination of employment, consequently increasing the country’s rate of unemployment. While young couples may complain of poor quality of sexual life as a party might frequently be too tired for sexual events. This may present as a serious problem in young and youthful relationships.

An employer lacking adequate sleep usually demonstrates poor cognitive functions with frequent memory loss and a shortened attention span. This is because the brain requires certain minimum of time to process temporarily stored memories without being interfered by the wakeful process of gaining new experiences and sensory inputs. During sleep, the unconscious mind reviews past business events, without interference of the conscious mind’s rigid decision making style, such that on waking, there is a feeling of refreshment owing to the ability to remember perfectly past transactions and make crucial analysis which would provide vital solutions to business challenges. Since a sleep-deprived Director of a company may not be able to exercise these aforementioned mental capacities, he or she tends to be moody and irritable to his employees; this affects employer-employee relationship and thus may result to poor service delivery to the customers. Sexually, this same employer may possess a decreased libido. Decreased libido! You may wonder why? This is because our sexual drive is controlled by our emotions which are regulated by certain centers in the brain. Nonetheless these symptoms typically disappear once quality sleep is restored.

Regrettably, poor sleep usually leads to ill-health, incapacitation and consequently hastens aging in a previously young and vibrant generation of Nigerian youths. Heart-related diseases like hypertension and coronary artery disease are the most common morbidities in question. In a simpler way, poor or inadequate sleep is associated with decrease level of certain hormone called ‘leptin’ which helps tell the body’s control room to decrease appetite whenever the stomach is full, however when there isn’t much of this hormone in the body, one continues to eat and gain weight. Thus obesity sets in, and as a result one may become at risk of high blood pressure and other heart problems. As if the damage to the body’s only pumping machine is not enough, lack of sleep may also decrease the body’s immune function which is responsible for fighting infection. Therefore a disruption in the body’s military base could pose a fellow to sickness and make an already sick stay longer on sick bed, thus contributing to high morbidity rate in the Nigerian health system, and also results in overwhelming of the few-available health facilities.

In the view of these, experts who studied certain individuals’ sleep patterns and the manifestations of various signs of poor sleep have advised that the best way to prevent these negative consequences of poor sleep is to make available quality sleep hours per day. For a teenager, you are recommended to sleep for an average of 9-8hours per day while adults should make available a period of about 8-7hours of sleep in a day. Conversely, some may uniquely posses an exceptional pattern, while they would sleep for 4hours and not experience the signs of poor sleep; others would, with same quantity of sleep. Then the question is how would you know if you are having signs of poor sleep? To be able to conclude that you have not been sleeping well, you have to provide answers to the following questions. Do you feel sleepy during working hours? Do you feel non-refreshed after a night sleep? Do you find it difficult getting up in the morning? Or do you feel the need to sleep in at weekends to make up for lost sleep? On providing a ‘yes’ answer to any of these questions, the word ‘inadequate sleep’ should reecho and appropriate sleeping hours per day should be re-instituted. In re-instituting quality sleep, you may need to consult your physician for full evaluation so as to identify the cause of poor sleep. In the process, your physician may be able to identify the specific cause of poor sleep, and then decide base on his findings the best option of management. Most often after removal of the causative factor, quality sleep returns. It’s worthy of note that youths are invariably faced with the problems of alcohol and tobacco addiction, amidst many health hazards of these problems is poor sleep, in which case, such fellow having sleeping problems would require counseling and rehabilitation.

In all, it’s highly advisable to note that the greater one’s indebted to sleep, the greater ones chance of hospitalization, and like the Irish saying; a good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.

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