Sleep seen as an essential medicine

Cape Town-based Dr Darren Green said on average, the body needs around seven to nine hours of sleep per night in order to feel well-rested.
Cape Town-based Dr Darren Green said on average, the body needs around seven to nine hours of sleep per night in order to feel well-rested.
Image: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Whether the cause is a new baby, a condition such as insomnia, high amounts of stress or a hormone imbalance, sleep deprivation is more common and more serious than many realise.

Besides your brain feeling foggy the morning after a sleepless night, a consistent lack of sleep can cause weight gain, depression, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, aged skin and even heart attacks and strokes.

In a report which appeared The Times last year, cardiologist Dr Jeff King, chairman of the South African Society of Sleep Medicine, said sleep deprivation is the “most under-recognised, underdiagnosed medical condition”.

According to King, when someone is sleep deprived they may experience certain warning signs which include waking up tired, nodding off at their desk, being an emotional wreck all the time, having impaired memory, or feeling as if their motor skills are off.

If ignored, this may lead to the more serious medical conditions.

Cape Town-based Dr Darren Green said on average, the body needs around seven to nine hours of sleep per night in order to feel well-rested.

“Good quality sleep has finally taken its rightful place on the health throne as current evidence shows that this is one of the most powerful wellness interventions of the modern era,” he said.

“The role of sleep in the body’s maintenance and repair is priceless and while we look for miracle solutions and immune boosters in the form of medicines we must acknowledge that sleep is medicine.”

Green said the medical fraternity now finally understood the integral role that sleep played in brain performance.

“And in the more sophisticated fields of creativity, innovation and problem-solving,” he said.

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