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Docs to all soccer fans: Get sleep

COFFEE, beer, junk food and naps - oh, yes, there's a day job to attend to. Since the 2010 FIFA World Cup started on June 12, there have been lots of guys walking around with red, bleary eyes, possibly a hangover and an upset tummy.

Many fans are watching matches from 7:30pm to 5:30am on some days, catching a few winks when they can and still show up at work.

Doctors say going without proper sleep at night and not eating properly is bad for you. Just say no. So what else is new?

Since the World Cup only happens every four years, no one is going to pay attention to what a mere doctor says.

Still, doctors suggest watching selectively, arranging a smarter viewing schedule, getting a bit more sleep and eating properly - and maybe taking some traditional Chinese medicine nutrition for "reinforcing therapy."

Since energy is restored while we sleep, losing a lot of sleep over time can undermine health, according to Dr Zhou Shigao, associate physician of internal medicine at Longhua Hospital attached to the Shanghai University of TCM.

Poor efficiency during the day, lowered immunity and digestive and other problems can be caused by prolonged lack of sleep and fatigue.

This can trigger or cause relapse in problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stomach ulcers and chronic bronchitis.

Prolonged fatigue and nervous excitement can cause heart problems for people with serious vascular problems; irregular eating over time damages the digestive system.

Since "pathogenic cold" prevails late at night, there's a high rate of relapse in chronic respiratory problems like bronchitis and emphysema, the doctor says.

Dr Zhou suggests football fans with chronic ailments arrange their viewing schedule to allow for more sleep; he advises sleep before a match and naps when possible.

Eating a proper and balanced late supper can help, says Dr Zhou. Though coffee and strong tea can keep fans awake, too much can irritate the stomach and stimulate the nerves too much.

Because of pathogenic cold energy invading late at night, football fans and everyone else are advised against taking ice-cold drinks.

Fresh vegetables and fruits with vitamins C and B can improve immunity, but that takes time and won't help for this World Cup. Nuts provide fast energy.

TCM doctors recommend an energy-reinforcing diet to protect the body during the football month, but again that takes time. Keep it in mind for the next World Cup.

People who are prone to shang huo (fire-ascending) heart and circulation problems after staying up all night might consider soup with lily roots and gingko. When the body aches from lack of sleep, kidney-reinforcing nuts and sesame may help.

Doctors advise against getting too emotionally involved in matches (no chance) and say it's important to remain balanced and grounded for good health.


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