When stories broke about Rick Ross’ multiple seizures on two separate airlines, some radio jocks and bloggers were quick to ask whether or not Ross’ weight was to blame for his misfortune. While the Miami-bred rapper clearly is not model of health and wellness, the reaction from many people illuminated America’s ugly indifference towards people who are overweight.
Even though Frugivore has called for Ross, whose real name is William Roberts, to think about losing weight so that he may enjoy the success of his career long after the bright lights of fame dim, we did not shame him for being overweight. Shaming overweight people seems like all the rave nowadays because it’s the easiest way for people to deflect any attention off themselves — hoping that their addictions to sugar, fat, and/or salt aren’t called into question.
With so many people wondering what triggered Ross’ seizures, it was sad to hear so many people try to start saying Ross needs to start eating better and lose weight to avoid another seizure. While it’s always a good idea to eat better, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to diagnosing seizures.
Seizures are not directly related to obesity although many scientist are starting to make the connection between the modern day foods we eat and irregular brain activity. One of the leading known causes of non-epileptic seizures is sleep deprivation, but, understandably, no one dares mentioning this fact because, in America, “sleep is the cousin of death.”
It’s not a stretch to suggest that more people die from sleep deprivation than any other cause combined. It’s literally the silent killer. Let’s not forget our beloved “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, died trying to get to sleep.
As Ross’ life speeds through every major city in the country, he’ll undoubtedly remain up for long hours, hustling to “Make it in America.” We can only hope that his family, friends, record label, and handlers have all advised the self-proclaimed “Bawse” to get as much rest as he can. But judging from his dramatic appearance for the grand opening of his new Memphis-based Wing-Stop, Ross’ financial obligations and responsibilities to all the people who profit off of his career will weigh heavy conscious moving forward.
When we try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, sometimes it’s unimaginable and should make it hard to shame someone for the life they live. What would you do if you were in Ross’ size 12’s? But, nevertheless, most people don’t have to put themselves into anyone else’s shoes to sympathize and/or understand what it’s like to go through life in a perpetual sleep walk.
According to a recent study published by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 44% of Americans suffer from mild to moderate insomnia. Coupled with the increasing number of people who suffer from sleep apnea, there is no wonder why our culture has normalized erratic behavior, morning grumpiness, daily coffee breaks, overconsumption of energy drinks and sugar, late night television, and prescription sleep-aides — we need these products to keep us productive even though, in the end, the joke is always on us.
Sleep deprivation seems to start earlier and earlier these days. I remember wanting to stay up all day, but luckily, my grandmother forced me to take naps and be in bed at night before 9 p.m.. I was privileged to receive such wisdom, but many kids don’t grow up with such loving guidance, allowing them to learn how to “fight” sleep effectively, which ends up manifesting in short attention spans, ADHD, and to bring our conservation full circle, petit mal seizures — a mild seizure that commonly occurs in sleep deprived children and is usually written off as daydreaming.
As we grow up, we all shun taking naps, regrettably laying the foundation of what becomes the cheap and instantly gratifying way of managing on our sleep debts — sugar and caffeine. In a study released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 63% of all high school students are victims of sleep depravation. This can lead to the lack of clear decision making and — among black children in particular — sedentary lifestyles, which contributes to the rise in adolescent obesity.
Once we all graduate into adulthood, man-made stresses keep us awake. Juggling our responsibilities to our families, friends, jobs, force us to think of a master plan to get us to a place of rest and relaxation.
Americans must confront the silent killer at some point, which may mean that we need to look at the inherent unhealthiness of our current socio-economic system. Dying early or depending on outside chemicals in form of medicine or caffeinated drinks in order to keep up with the speed of money can be cool in the world of entertainment, but in reality it can only hinder one from living a truly healthy life.
The fast paced lifestyle of a hip-hop star dictates how little rest Ross will get in the near future. He has already cancelled concerts in Atlanta and Los Angeles, which probably dented his wallets enough that he’ll have to make a clear decision whether or not to continue his tour … Let’s all hope he gets a good night’s sleep before he makes that call.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep depravation and seizures can go hand-in-hand if one is not careful:
There is an inherent relationship between sleep and epilepsy. Sleep activates the electrical charges in the brain that result in seizures and seizures are timed according to the sleep wake cycle. For people with epilepsy, sleep problems are a double-edged sword; epilepsy disturbs sleep and sleep deprivation aggravates epilepsy.