[COLUMN] On power nap, COVID

COVID still kills

As of 10:28 AM (EST), Tuesday, July 26, 2022, the total global COVID-19 cases stood at 576,333,448 and 6,405,539 deaths. The numbers for the U.S. were at 92,339,925 cases, with 1,052,467 deaths, while total cases in the Philippines stood at 3,757,762 (2,360 new cases), with 60,694 deaths. On that day, there were 167,463 news cases, 512 deaths, and 40,906 hospitalizations in the United States.

Elon Musk has had COVID-19 infections twice, Dr. Fauci had his recently, as did President Biden. China and some European countries have reintroduced COVID lockdowns. With the dominant subvariant BA.5, which is super-contagious and deadly to some high-risk people, it is obvious the pandemic is far from over. It is wise for all of us, including those who have gotten the second booster, to continue being careful, masking in public and doing social distancing, even if others don’t.  Not one has died from masking; more than 6.4 million have been killed by COVID-19. Think about it. Just plain common sense.

Power nap

“Most American adults sleep poorly,” according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation on 1,506 adults. The findings are obviously applicable to most of us in general.

Lack of sleep translates to lesser mental acuity and concentration, poorer health, greater driving hazards, reduced productivity, and diminished sex drive. Sleep experts recommend a minimum of 7 to 9 hours of sleep in 24 hours. The survey showed that adults sleep an average of 6.9 hours a night. Three hours of sleep deprivation is enough to cause problems.

Seventy-five percent of adults reported they frequently have difficulty in sleeping, like problems in initiating sleep, waking up often during the night, and/or snoring, waking up too early, and feeling unrefreshed and always tired. Many also stated that they ignored the problem, and some do not even think they actually have any sleep deficit. Only about 50% of those surveyed stated they were able to sleep well most of the time. Twenty-five percent thought their sleep problem had adverse effects on their daily routines. The Sleep Foundation said “there’s a link between sleep and quality of life… People who sleep well, in general, are happier and healthier.

The commercial world of today stretches business to 24 hours a day, with 24-hour pharmacies, restaurants, casinos, supermarkets, etc., so people tend to stay up late, watch late-night shows on television, surf the web on the internet, etc. All these reduce people’s time to sleep. And some people even need more than 9 hours of sleep to feel refreshed and rested.

The study also showed: (1) Sixty percent of adults stated they have driven a vehicle while drowsy from lack of sleep in the past year, and 4 in 10 reported they have had an accident or near accident because of tiredness or falling asleep at the wheel; (2) Seventy-five percent claim their partner has a sleep problem, with snoring as the most common complaint; (3) Four out of ten of those surveyed reported lack of sleep adversely affected their sexual relationship, having lost interest in sex, having poorer performance or having sex less often; and (4) Seventy percent claimed that their physician never asked them about their sleep.

The recommendations of the National Sleep Foundation and experts in the field are abstinence from any stimulant, coffee and alcohol before bedtime, and to seek medical help if they think they are having sleep problem and/or snoring, or not getting enough rest at night.

Lack of sleep reduces the normal “recharging time of our body battery, our energy source” causing a chain of reactions in our physiology and body chemistry. This “lo-bat” condition leads to physical and mental stress to our system. All these alter the normal homeostasis (internal balance) within us, weakening our immune system, and increasing our risk of developing metabolic diseases, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and heart attack, among others, or aggravating existing illnesses.

Here is where power naps come in if you have the luxury and opportunity to enjoy one every day. Power napping is like “trickle-charging our battery.” A power nap is usually taken between 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, the primetime, lasting between 10 minutes and 30 minutes. Many countries of the world close up shops in the afternoon and reopen after 4:00 PM to enjoy that tradition and practice of having a power nap. However, a power nap longer than half an hour increases the risk of “sleep inertia,” which gives one the uncomfortable groggy sensation which lingers.

Those with sleep problems, those who wake up in the morning feeling tired and unrested should consider a Sleep Study to rule out Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), where the persons suffer from prolonged breath-holding dozens of times while asleep (resulting in hypoxia, decreased oxygen in their system), which is treatable with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. OSA, if untreated, increases the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. CPAP does wonders for these individuals. Without exception, all those “quick-pick” devices advertised are useless, since they do not address the “collapsing airway pathology.” CPAP keeps the obstructed airway open.

Power naps provide a healthy opportunity to reset the system and get a “power surge” and burst of alertness and physical strength, amazing energy, and memory boost, which even helps in decision-making and problem-solving. Naps reduce crankiness, increase cognitive skills, performance, and creativity, and lead to a more pleasant outlook for the remainder of the day. It also reduces accidents and mistakes, lowers stress, and even lowers the risk for cardiovascular diseases.

A NASA study among military pilots and astronauts revealed “that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.” A nap is superior to coffee or any “energy drink” because caffeine decreases memory performance, contrary to what people think.

One must be consistent in their power nap routine, keeping a regular schedule and not napping for more than 30 minutes. Naps are most especially good and beneficial for young children and, actually, for all of us.

Popular historical figures who were “nappers” include, among others, Leonardo DaVinci, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Salvador Dali, Margaret Thatcher, John D. Rockefeller, and Yogi Berra.

Prevent a “lo-bat.” Trickle-charge your system daily. Take a power nap if you can. It does wonders!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com.

 

Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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