Sleep is important. Sleep is very essential to everyone. And more so to persons with sickle cell (the name “persons with sickle cell” is used because I feel that calling someone a “sickle cell patient” is demeaning, negatively-colored and inappropriately-addressed)
When we sleep, our bodies regenerate. When we sleep, our cells, tissues and blood regroup and revitalize. So in the morning, we get energetic, active and concentrated at work, in schools, and in the various roles that we find ourselves.
We need about eight (8) to nine (9) hours of sleep. That is from 9:30-10:00PM to around 6:00AM or 7:00AM. This process is crucial. This is not open for compromise.
When we deprive ourselves and other persons with sickle cell disease of this amount of sleep, the worse can happen. Extreme tiredness can set in, very low concentration will creep into your life (and it can have negative impacts in various other sectors of your life), your body is open to infection because there is no renewal and regrouping of the infection-fighting mechanism in the body (i.e. your immune system), and your Hb significantly drops (and in the cases of women where there is the “monthly blood ritual” also lowering your Hb, the situation can be dire). Also the body is open up for crisis and specifically to men, you might be highly predisposed to priapism.
So avoid heavy deadline schedule at work by breaking down tasks into smaller chunks, only sign up for projects that you can complete in time (especially in firms where the number and quality of work you do get appreciated with extra financial rewards), take up lectures, seminars, free electives, conferences, social activity or any other activity that you can you realistically think you can finish within a reasonably stipulated time frame. Do not cram activities, do not wait to the last minute. Do not take energy drinks or strong coffees to stay awake and active. Why? Because they can cause irreparable damage and at worse even kill a person with the condition.
If you are a worker, if you are a student, or if you are a father or mother, let everyplace be your working ground, your reading room, or your nursing porch.
Go through workplace reports whiles sitting in the car (in traffic or being driven)/in trotro; go over that report during break session; review those figures during the weekend and stay at church after service to write that report.
If you are a student, read those notes early morning before lectures; go over your readings during your free time; get an overview of a concept whiles en-route to town; summarize your notes in small, easily digestible points that you can glance over; do not stick to a fixed timetable for study so that when you miss it, you probably think you cannot do anything till the next scheduled study-time and start preparing for assignments right from the day you have been given.
If you are a nursing mother or father, have fun with your kids everywhere; don’t rigidly design a time-out that is not flexible to adaptation; check your kids for subtle changes before anything unexpected happens; hire a taxi for a health checkup instead of waiting for daddy to drop you (and ending up missing the appointment altogether) and be very alert to several unnecessary occasions that steal your precious time (like girl night-out, reading club, fashion club, group discussions if you think you are smart enough to do without them, ritual funeral and wedding attendance to the extent that when you go to these programmes, you go not because you know the person, but because your friend is going.
Be careful with your time. Be effective at your time management. If you have more time, you will have more sleep.
Torgbui Sipho Michael is a person with sickle cell disease. He writes, on different subjects across different scope, and shares his time reading, volunteering at Maranatha Community School and offer teaching lessons to many students.
He is also a public speaker, motivational speaker and sickle cell advocate. He has written an over 250-page book on the condition of sickle cell disease, awaiting publication.
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