Saturday, 19 September 2009

Sleeping Beauty

RESEARCHES carried out recently have traced higher risk of developing diabetes, weight gain and obesity in people who have an inadequate amount of sleep.

A survey of over 80,000 people revealed that the incidence of obesity was higher in people who sleep for less than six hours at night.
Everyone spends one-third of his or her life asleep. The human body has a systematic cycle of sleep. It begins with the release of serotonin (a brain chemical), which in turn, leads to the production of a hormone melatonin.
Once the hormone is secreted, the body enters a period of deep sleep of about five hours.
The muscles relax, heartbeat, pulse rate and blood pressure slow down, secretion of hormones from glands stops, temperature falls, breathing slows.
Also at this point, growth hormone (GH) becomes active, during this time of deep sleep and begins to regenerate, revitalise and help the body to recuperate from the stress of daytime activity. In short, sleep can be likened to the recharging of a worn down battery.

MANY years ago, the famous Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, remarked, “a man needs six hours sleep, a boy needs seven, only women and fools need more.”
I have no idea why he said this but based on the hormonal activities in the body during sleep, seven to eight hours are sufficient for adequate sleep.
Individual daily requirement for sleep vary though, while newborn babies can sleep for 15 hours a day, adults cannot afford to spend all that time except the old, those who are sick and pregnant women.
Inadequate sleep reduces the time allotted to the body to recover from the stress of life.
Although occasional loss of sleep is harmless, recurrent sleep deprivation has drastic effects.
The effects include: irritability, restlessness, lack of concentration, constant tiredness, indigestion, premature aging, tendency to snack (because insufficient sleep induces appetite), which will lead to weight gain, and accumulated stress.
Most of the effects do not show up immediately but begin to manifest in later time if the body is deprived of sleep for a long time.

NOW before you begin to agree or disagree with Churchill, how can you know the ideal time required for sleep? While some can live comfortably on one to two hours sleep and catnaps, many others cannot.
Well, you can only know you are getting enough sleep if by the time you wake up, you are feeling refreshed (not dragging yourself out of bed for another day).
Sleeplessness, and its brother insomnia, arise from uncomfortable rooms or beds, taking stimulants like tea and coffee in the evening, excess fatigue (too tired to sleep), hunger or eating too heavily at night.
When next you have difficulty sleeping; read, listen to cool music, watch TV (not an exciting programme preferably a documentary), have a warm bath, take a walk, blank your mind from any anxiety and if all else fails, count sheep!

Sleep goes beyond relaxation and resting. No matter how tight one’s schedule might be, find time to sleep well. About the best position of sleep, whether you sit, lie down, stand, squat or hang in swings like the primitives, any would do, as long as you feel comfortable.

No Parking... Not on the dance floor
(Just Life)
HE was smiling as he read the letters, suddenly, he burst out in laughter.

What’s the matter?’ she asked.
‘Ah, nothing much o. Just that this megacity matter has touched my life again,’ he said still laughing.
‘How, what do you mean?’ she asked as she craned her neck trying to read the letters herself.
‘Well, I am being informed that I shall have to carry my car on my head once in a while,’ he said.
‘What!’ she exclaimed, as she grabbed the letters from him.
He continued to chuckle as he made his way to the room. She followed him.
‘But that’s not what the letter says,’ she said.
‘I know it doesn’t say that exactly but that is what they want me to do’.
‘Look, what the letter says is that the waste disposal trucks cannot get into the street to pick up our refuse because residents of the street double park their cars. And so the local government is requesting for a meeting with representatives of the street association, that’s all.’
‘Okay, read the second letter.’
She was silent for a while as she read it.
‘What?!!’ she exclaimed, yet again.
‘Okay, now that you understand what I was talking about perhaps you’ll be able to tell me what days you shall be carrying your own car because, remember we are in an equal relationship; you know, what a man can do etc. I can’t carry it all alone so we will have to alternate the car carrying.’

FOR a brief moment, she was worried but she sighed in relief when she looked at him and saw that he was still smiling.
‘But this doesn’t seem fair. The second letter from the street is ordering all residents to stop parking on the street. I mean, if the reason why the local government called the meeting was to discuss the problem the refuse collectors have when trying to collect refuse from the street isn’t it logical that parking should therefore be restricted to working hours, say 8am to 6pm? At least, the trucks don’t work at night.’
‘Maybe there is no need for people who are in charge of our megacity to consider people who live in the megacity. But then again, do the trucks work every day?’
‘No, they don’t, just Tuesdays and Thursdays.’
He started to laugh again.
‘What again?’ she asked.
‘Hmm, it is just like killing a fly with a barrel of gunpowder. Trucks come around for maybe 20 minutes twice a week (a total of 40 minutes per week) and because of that people have to stop parking for the rest of the one thousand four hundred minutes!’
‘Well, maybe they have so many important things they are working on like road construction, provision of health facilities, housing, water and so many other things. Then of course, there are the not so important things to do too.’
‘Not so important things? Like what?’
‘Eh, like production and distribution of letters like the one I am holding.’
‘My friend was telling that they “arrested” her car last week. The officials said she had parked on the wrong side of the street, that parking on the street was only allowed on the right side of the street but the problem was that there was not one sign anywhere on the street telling anyone what side of the road was the ‘right side. To free her car it was either she paid N5,000 at their office or N1000 bribe on the spot.’
‘Let’s hope the megacity people obviously need to think some of these things through.’
‘Naija people, forever hoping and praying. Why won’t we learn to think things through and do what is fair to most if not all.’

Twitter me!

(Strictly for the you)
SOME chose to see it as the weekend three black people acted up. Others went philosophical... They whom the gods want to destroy, they first make mad. Then there are those who think it is a question of pride! What do all three have in common, they ask?
They are successful and are now letting it get to their heads. For you must be proud... and maybe a bit silly to get on a stage during an award ceremony to interrupt another artiste who is giving an acceptance speech. Especially as, in Kanye’s case, it was not even your category! What else defines taking expired paracetamol for someone else’s headache? And what was Serena thinking when she dared to get upset and curse out a sports official during a crucial game?
As for Michael? Well, everyone knows that you do not ruin the moment when everyone has come to celebrate you, to then settle old scores and share your controversial opinions and philosophies! I mean, how about a simple, ‘thank you’?
For me, I see this as an opportunity for others to learn! It’s like learning from someone else’s experience!
Kanye has since apologised and said he is taking a break, Serena has also, after saying she wouldn’t, apologised publicly to fans, and Michael... well, he is Michael!
Life goes on, and maybe in a few days, weeks, months or years, we will forget.
But not if twitter, and other social networking sites have to do with it!

SPEAKING of twitter...
As usual, this was one of those sites that you hear about but resist checking out until some random day.
My random day was when I had to interview Kel and someone tweeted a minute-by-minute account of the interview!
The drop of Ijebu in my blood, which is a very strong drop, immediately imagined the possibilities… commercial wise. But since getting on twitter, I have seen it as much more… and less!
Twitter is a micro-blogging site so if you have a blog or read blogs, imagine a site that allows you update your thoughts as often as you like, as long as you keep those words within a limit.
A friend once told me that twitter isn’t the site for writers as it limits what you can say, but I have since found that to be not necessarily true. You just have to learn to write for twitter. (Remember when in Rome...)
You could also see twitter the way I see it- the convenience and genius of facebook status updates, without the baggage! Unlike facebook, there is no mutual followership! If five thousand people choose to follow you and you choose to follow three... it is all well and good!
Catch me on twitter-
You might wonder why you should get on board twitter today and I could give you the top five reasons I am!
• It allows me express myself!
• It allows me communicate with a regular group of people!
• I have access to peoples’ thoughts. These people include my friends, colleagues, and celebrities like Colbie Caillat and Sound Sultan!
• It is very entertaining and interesting! There is access to loads of cool sites through it!
• You can promote your self, cause, event and more on it!

And to include a friend’s reason... It is not facebook!
In non-related news, another one bites the dust!
After a gallant battle with cancer, Patrick Swayze passed on last week. He was fifty-seven, and it is very sad. This was the man young girls fell in love with in ‘Dirty Dancing’, and who young boys wanted to dance like! His other movie credits include, ‘North and South’, and ‘Ghost’. So many icons that shaped my childhood memories are passing on! It makes you celebrate them and remember your own mortality.

Life lessons

ON August 29, which was my birthday, I woke up in the morning to read a couple of short messages on my phone, I also received phone calls too. The weather was cool and the breeze suits the skin like an air conditioner. It was a great day.
I took time out to reflect on the kind of life I had lived, and the kind of life I want to live in the future. I thought about my past, my present, and my future. Some of the lessons life has taught me are the things I want to share with you.

Show appreciation. There is an axiom that says, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” The way I see it is that there is a tendency that you undervalue some of the things you have now. The key to happiness in life is appreciating the things you have now, because some people do not have them.

Appreciate and celebrate yourself. A blind person knows the importance of sight. A barren woman knows the importance of having children, and an orphan knows the importance of having parents. You don’t have to wait to loose the things you have now, before you begin to value them. Value the gift of life.

Appreciate the people in your life. A simple text message can work the magic. I saw an headline in one newspaper recently that reads “Girl, 9, masters 600 sign language gestures so she can tell deaf mother ‘I Love You’.”

Don’t be sorrowful over the things you don’t have. It is your focus that will determine your feelings. You can decide to focus on the things you lack, and be sad, or focus on the things you have, and be happy. It all depends on you. Don’t give yourself headache over what you don’t have. What you don’t have, you don’t have.

No one has all the solutions. It is true that you can’t have it all in life. Some people have billions of naira in their account, but they are not famous. Some have all the fame, but have little cash in their accounts. In fact, the people you envy, that have the things you crave for, may lack some of the things you have.

Trade what you have for what you lack. One of the things I discovered is that you can’t play with the cards you don’t have in the game of success. But you can play with the cards you have in your hand, and win. Zig Ziglar, America’s top motivational speaker, counseled, “you can have everything you want in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Nothing may be 100 per cent guaranteed. There are times that unexpected events will crop up. For this reason, you need an emergency fund. Your emergency fund should be approximately equal to your income for six months, or more. If for instance, you lose your job today, you can bank on your emergency fund.

Enjoy your life the way it is now. Enjoy your life the way it is now, positively, and envision a brighter future for yourself. You can pack all the lessons you’ve learnt from your past, invest it in your present, and bounce back into the future.”

Wait for your time. Don’t determine your own speed by another person’s clock. Focus on your own journey, and gain speed without being in a hurry. I like the way the musician Ill bliss put it when he said, Aiye po gon, meaning there is enough space.

Don’t regret your past. We all probably wish we did some things right in the past, but the past is now past, and cannot be changed, but you can learn from it. Instead of regretting some of the things you didn’t do in the past, maximise the moment.
In conclusion, maximise every moment of your life by making impact. Have a wonderful week ahead of you.

Manners and artisans

ARTISANS are a wonderful group of people. What can we ever do without them? Whether it is fixing the car (mechanics, auto-electricians, vulcanisers), or working at home (painters, carpenters, welders), the artisan is one workman you are forced to reckon with every once in a while.
Artisans have peculiar things that set them and their vocations apart. They are mostly illiterate (and l don’t mean any offence by this).
Of course, those who ‘went to school’ are increasingly becoming members of this group because of the nature of Nigeria’s labour market.
They also deal with clients who are mostly of higher social status than they. Many of them work on stuff they are not able to afford themselves. Sadly, they are also distinguished by their poor attitudes and bad manners, which shouldn’t really be.
The class differential between them and their clients means that often, the two groups exist in isolation.
Like the falcon and the falconer in W.B Yeats’ poem from which Things Fall Apart took its title, the one does not hear the other.
This disconnect can begin to be addressed if only artisans can know how stuff works among the middle class.
Since they are not likely to read columns like this in a quality weekly, how can the falcon ever hear the falconer? But we shall keep trying.

THE common and major mannerism challenge of most artisans is that of not keeping to appointed dates and times.
Evens when you allow them choose the date/time that is convenient, you are still likely to come and meet your clothes waiting the tacking of buttons or your car half-fixed.
This lack of respect for appointed times might be traceable to the carefree nature of the lower classes.
Middle class clients know the time value of money and the monetary value of time! This knowledge gap may be one of the things that keep most artisans poor.

AGAIN, most artisans are not sensitive to clients’ feelings and business ethics. You leave your car for just one hour for your mechanic to fix.
On your return, the driver’s seat has been adjusted; the radio dial re-set; your serviette paper pack depleted and a different CD loaded on your CD player. Your dare not complain.
If you do, they will apologise of course but behind you they will talk of whether you think ‘your car na egg’ and how they’ve taken such liberties with ‘heavier rides’ and went scot-free.
Again here, the territorial spirits of their social class keep these artisans from realising that upper class folks (like me, you know!) demand respect in their relationship with anyone of a lower class.
In a previous piece l had written about market traders who would ‘advise’ a customer that a particular item is too expensive for their level.
Many high-class people are privacy-conscious. This is more so in Nigeria where the huge disparity in comfort levels of the classes is hardly traceable to hard work or merit.
This makes most wealthy people fearful of the company of those they have defrauded, deceived and disenfranchised from our commonwealth.
You can then imagine the scare the wretched electrician gives when he is invited to fix a faulty chandelier at home and he goes about gawking around.
Moral: the wealthy don’t like you gazing at their household electronics and fittings or their daughters if you don’t belong.
When you go to do a house job or home delivery, mind your business and be professional.
Knock on every room door before you enter or allow a guide lead the way. Do not behave in suspicious ways like going away with the house or car keys in your pocket.

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