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Making The Most Of Your Sleep Time

The first time I heard the word “agoraphobia” was during my Psychiatry posting as a medical student. Asides the tendency of medical students to associate the symptoms of a disease they are studying to themselves, what is referred as Medical Student Syndrome or Medical Student Disease, it was interesting to note that it was the opposite of “claustrophobia,” a word I learned much earlier from novels.

I was thrilled to be putting a name to the fact that I hated open spaces. Not typical agoraphobia, but I hated a person entering or exiting my room and leaving the door ajar. It made me feel exposed, in an uncomfortable way.

Over the years, as I grew, I learned to also sleep with the lights off; how “adults” (are supposed to) sleep.

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I noticed of recent though, that I slept most times with the lights on and more worriedly, did not seem to care as much if I was sleeping with my door ajar.

These made me wonder. “What is it that has made me let my guards so low?” 

It was a source of concern to me.

It made me think, “Could it be that I am developing poor sleep hygiene?”

I know some may be wondering if that is even a thing – sleep hygiene. Well, I also remember from my Psychiatry posting, that one of the first things you do while managing insomnia (inability to initiate or maintain sleep) is to educate the patient on behaviors that may help them get to sleep faster or sleep soundly.

By the way, I am sleeping soundly. I simply thought that we might sleep/rest better if we practiced a better sleep hygiene.

With the increasing demands of adulthood and generally making a handsome living, we get to sleep less on most days. When we get a chance to sleep we should optimize it.

Some things you could do to improve the quality of your sleep:

1. Obey your body clock

The body has an alternating sleep-wake cycle controlled by an internal “clock” within the brain.

If you get up at the same time every day, soon, this strict routine will help to “set” your body clock and you will find yourself getting sleepy at about the same time every night. This may require you set an alarm for the first few days/weeks.

Also, note that staring at the clock in your bedroom or watching the minutes tick away while trying to sleep, can increase stress, making it harder to sleep – the reason you should turn your clock’s face away from you.

When your body signals you to rest, obey. Don’t say, “let me write a few more lines,” “read a few more pages,” or “watch a few more scenes,” do what it asks – go to bed. Likewise, do not go to bed when your body is not tired. You will be reinforcing bad habits, like laying awake. This is the time to put in the “extra” work.

2. Improve your sleeping environment

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A higher quality of sleep is assured if your bedroom feels restful and comfortable. This is where the “adults” win. A dark room does help you sleep better. It signals to your brain: it is time to sleep.

If your mattress is too hard or too worn, a quality sleep is less assured. The aches from sleeping on a mattress that slouches upon laying on are enough to rob you of the rest you hoped to get. Invest in a good mattress.

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I read a post on Facebook. A friend was complaining bitterly about a church situated close to his home that would not let him sleep. This was as a result of the loud and discordant sounds emanating from their speakers. If this is you, too, then getting earplugs would do you a world of good, since you cannot chase them away – even though you would have loved to. Keep in mind that the added stress of cursing does not make the prospects of a quality sleep more assured.

Make sure the room is at a right temperature; increase the temperature of your air conditioner or open up your windows, as the case may be.

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You would want to reserve your bedroom exclusively for sleeping where possible, so your brain does not associate your bedroom with activity.

3. Avoid drugs that influence the brain activity, by either stimulating or depressing it.

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Such would include caffeinated drinks such as coffee, coke, and also cigarettes and alcohol.

Taking a warm, milky drink instead can help you sleep faster, as it contains a sleep-enhancing amino acid.

Although alcohol may help bring on sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing the quality of sleep later in the night.

4. Relax your mind

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Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bedtime.

Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book, watch television, play some music or practice relaxation exercises.

Avoid stressful, stimulating activities — doing work, discussing emotional issues. Physical and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to release the stress hormone, cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness.


There are also a number of other measures you may adopt to enhance the quality of your sleep, such as exercise – exercise promotes restful sleep if it is done several hours before going to bed, having light meals for dinner and taking balanced fluid – not too little for thirst to arouse you from sleep or too much to be awakened by a need to use the bathroom.

Did you know taking afternoon naps reduces the quality of your nighttime sleep?

I know some persons go to sleep soon after they hit the bed, whereas, for some others, it is a tug of war. I hope the latter find this post useful.

Love,

Annie.

 

 

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Lessons from The Becoming Conference #1: You Are Not That Special After All

I left Becoming 2.0 thinking “Funto Ibuoye Is Amazing!!!” and I know a couple other females thought so – you had to be amazing to pull off that kind of event, the number of persons, and caliber of persons that attended too.

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Mrs Funto at Becoming 2.0

When Funto Ibuoye, the founder of The Beautified Network and convener of The Becoming Conference, was welcoming us to Becoming 2016, she said something powerful: “When I was in CU – Covenant University, I was just an ordinary girl. Nobody knew I was going to become all of these… I just had a heart of worship and knew I wanted to serve God with all my heart.”

I know a few persons who feel they were born with some mark of specialty. I used to think of myself as one of such. I met a friend who thinks same of himself. You know when they say, “The king in me recognizes and honours the king in you.” So, we thought there was a unique grace upon us – like, the kind of people that change their world. In plain English, we were the ones that had a “great” destiny.

This thought pattern affected my perception of self and how I lived my life. One time, I referred to myself as “God’s special one.”

Did you notice I described all that in past tense?

It is because I began questioning that thought pattern – not that I began to doubt that I was special, but I realized that ALL of us are special. ALL of us have the potential to be great.

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I no longer think God created any of us more special than the other. He created us all in His own image – all of us were fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. There was no preferential treatment on anyone.

This thinking or feeling of one’s specialty often dates back to early childhood, from ideas sold to children at a very young age by their parents, relatives and tutors. The same way they can sell mediocrity or inferiority complex to a child, who perhaps does not do well in the classroom or is different. Or early serial achievements, that fuels one’s idea of himself and the confidence of others around him in his ability.

The truth in this is that all of us are special. All of us are ordinary — until we do something extra, only then do we become extraordinary.

If you have a “great” destiny and are not intentional with your actions and decisions, you will remain ordinary.

What do you think? I will love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Love,

Annie.

Ps: This took a long time to post as promised here. I hope to chronicle more of my lessons, especially now that I have an online space – a blog.

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When Loving Her Becomes Difficult

In honour of Nigeria’s Independence day celebration, I will be throwing back to this poem I wrote seven years ago. Sadly, it still re-echoes the present state of our dear nation.

Recently on Twitter, someone tweeted: “So, 5 hospitals didn’t have oxygen and we lost you, Chris! 5 goddamned hospitals! Loving this country is HARD!!!” 

I didn’t know how to respond – or better put, had no response as it was touching two areas I am both passionate about: Nigeria, and her health sector. What’s worse, I could not take away the sadness from them. Could not. Even if I wanted to. With all the insecurity, strikes, poverty and hunger that threatens the intergrity and sanity of Nigeria and Nigerians, I can’t help but agree that indeed, loving Nigeria is HARD, as they put it.

NIGERIA

The land of my ancestors

A vault of many resources

The giant of Africa, they say

A name to us that seems stale

A hubbub of talented youths

Straining to unleash their gifts

But with no stage or audience

Their efforts prove futile

How corruption has eaten in deeply

Virtually all our leaders are greedy

Stealing the nation’s wealth in lump sums

For their daughters and even their son’s sons

The rarity of good paints wrong right

A nation where black is called white

It’s obvious our nation is decaying

What role are you playing?

Are you a force for correction or corruption

Nigeria, a nation that needs redemption.

I love Nigeria. I can’t help but love her. I am just wired to. And I believe in her. I believe in me, because I am Nigeria and so are you. Do you?

When I recently re-read 2nd Chronicles 7:14, I saw our problem AND solution in one verse.

2nd Chronicles 7: 14 – “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV, emphasis added)

A 2015 statistics released by the Pew Research Centre data ranked Nigeria as the 9th most religious country in the world. So, it is not prayers I am talking about now. We have done too much of praying, and less of acting. Remember, faith without works is dead. So, our solution lies in turning from our wicked ways. First, as individuals and then collectively as a people. This is where the responsibility of building Nigeria into the great nation that it was and is supposed to be falls back on us.

So much degradation has happened to her in the past years. So much worth tearing her apart of recent. But somehow she still manages to stand tall.

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I’m not about to beguile you into joining the faithful that believe in all Nigeria carries, and is willing to deliver her future – even though I would enjoin you to, but I hope that before you point fingers at all her corrupt leaders and everything that’s not right about her, that you look inward and see for YOURSELF if you are truly different and any better. I do hope though that you can believe in her enough to fight for her. I do hope that you look on her inside, and see all the beauty she possesses and all she is capable of becoming, and  can point others toward that. Nigeria is ours, the land of our birth, the land of our fathers, the land of our children.

We are so much stronger, so beautiful, the pride of the African continent, when we stand together than when we fight against ourselves; when we are united and fight for her cause, than berate one another.

We can be better. We can love her even when it’s HARD to love her. Isn’t that where it all boils down to in the end? Love. The ones we love sometimes are not befitting of the love. But we hope that through love, they can begin to see themselves through the eyes of the ones who love them, and rise to become the truest versions of themselves.

Unity, Peace and Progress 🇳🇬

Someone just turned 57!

Happy Independence, Nigeria!

Annie. 💚