By Samuel Sanya
At 4:00am, Jacob Kibuuka, a radio presenter is woken up by his alarm clock. He has only slept for six hours. Half asleep, the father of two has got to leave his home in Mukono and make it in time for the morning radio show at 5:00am in Kampala or risk getting sacked.
Often, he takes a bodaboda all the way to Kampala.
His work day effectively ends after 4:00pm in the afternoon when the stress and fatigue start to take a toll.
Despite this, there are additional responsibilities around the radio station that keep him around till 7:00pm and later, a few drinks with the boys take him till 10:00pm before he retires home, tired.
Saturdays and Sundays are the only time he sleeps longer and plays with the kids.
While Kibuuka is able to cope with just six hours of sleep, research by the US National Sleep Foundation showed that at least 1.9 million drivers in the US had a car crash or a near miss due to drowsiness in 2009.
Some 105 million drivers had driven while drowsy and 54 million admitted to driving while sleepy at least once every month of the year.
“People underestimate how tired they are and think that they can stay awake by force of will,” Dr. Thomas Balkin the National Sleep Foundation chair said.
“The problem is that although we are pretty good at recognising when we feel sleepy, we do not recognize the process of actually falling asleep as it is happening, Research also shows that less sleep equals more mistakes.
Interns at a hospital in the US where split into three groups and monitored for a week; one group was allowed eight hours of sleep, the second six hours, and the third four hours.
The third group had 15 mistakes during the week, in contrast, the first group made less than five mistakes in the week showing that it pays to have sufficient sleep.
Studies show that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% which is the legal limit in the US.
In some cases insufficient sleep results in micro sleeps i.e small bouts of sleep, flashes of temper, and diabetes all of which affect work productivity.
Florence Baingana, a psychiatrist notes that people who work the night shift such as truck drivers and nurses are more prone to suffer sleep disorders.
“Most people follow the normal sleep cycle. They sleep during the night and wake up in the morning. It’s hard for people who work at night and sleep during the day to get good sleep,” she explains.
Research shows that human beings should sleep for at least eight hours or more each day, however, Baingana notes that the amount of sleep an individual actually needs varies from one individual to another.
She points out that physiological differences, body weight and one’s state of mind have a lot to the with sleep requirements.
Generally, babies and teenagers require a lot more sleep than adults above 60 years. The brain cells repair during sleep, improving memory and cognitive abilities.
It generally gets harder to sleep as we grow older.