One of the main hidden dangers that significantly impact the length and the quality of life is sleep deprivation. It’s a deadly block to a successful “Designed Life”.
Are you sleeping enough? Sleep Deprivation can kill.
And we have good reason. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a multitude of not-so-great things. Why is sleep so important? Here are 10 consequences of not getting enough sleep.
- You’ll eat more. Three-hundred calories more, to be precise. A recent study found that sleep-deprived subjects, when allowed to eat whatever they wanted, ate more than when they had a full night’s sleep, even though they stuck to their normal eating schedule.
- You may not live as long. Researchers may have found the secret to long life – a study found that women who slept fewer than five hours a night were less likely to live as long as those who got more.
- You’ll weigh more. Logically, if you are regularly consuming more calories every day it stands to reason you may weigh more, but the weight gain is not only caused by what you consume. Not enough sleep also causes stress on the body, which triggers it to slow metabolism and store fat.
- It shrinks your brain. Researchers found that chronic insomniacs had smaller, less-dense brains, which affected crucial parts of their neurological systems like decision-making.
- It raises your blood pressure. A study found that adults who missed an hour of sleep each night for five years ended up increasing their risk for hypertension by almost 40 percent.
- It increases your risk of getting sick. Not enough shut-eye has been proven to leave people susceptible to cold viruses.
- It can worsen your memory. Ever feel like you can’t remember your to-dos after a night of tossing and turning? Those REM waves we experience at the beginning of a sleep cycle can boost memory and creativity, so if you’ve underslept the night before, try a quick power napto recoup some of your memory skills.
- You’ll skip your workouts. Lack of sleep means lack of energy, which probably means lack of gym time. In fact, research has shown that sleep deprivation is a key reason people stay inactive.
- It makes you cranky. Or, as researchers say, more “primitive.” Without sleep, we revert back to a more primal version of ourselves, meaning we can’t appropriately cope with emotions or respond maturely to situations.
- You’re not on your game. On top of all these consequences, not enough sleep just makes us feel, well, blah. We’ve all found ourselves reacting less quickly after a sleepless night, not to mention foggy-headed, so if you need to catch more z’s, check out some of our eating and exercise tips to help you sleep soundly.
Every now and then you hear about a super high performer who was apparently very healthy just keeling over and dropping dead.
The sad demise of Ranjan Das from Bandra, Mumbai occurred in 2009. Ranjan, just 42 years of age, was the CEO of SAP-Indian Subcontinent, the youngest CEO of an MNC in India. He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. It was common to see him run on Bandra’s Carter Road.
Just after Diwali, on 21st Oct, he returned home from his gym after a workout, collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids.
It was certainly a wake-up call for corporate India let alone corporate Asia. However, it was even more disastrous for runners amongst us. Since Ranjan was an avid marathoner ( in Feb 09, he ran the Chennai Marathon) the question arises as to why an exceptionally active, athletic person succumbs to heart attack at 42 years of age.
Was it the stress?
While Ranjan had mentioned that he faced a lot of stress, that is a common element in most of our lives. We used to think that by being fit, one can conquer the bad effects of stress. So I doubted if the cause was stress.
However, everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to make do with 4-5 hours of sleep. This is an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program ‘Boss’ Day Out’:
Here he himself admits that he would love to get more sleep (and that he was not proud of his ability to manage without sleep, contrary to what others extolled ).
I have outlined the key points below in the hope it will save some lives.
· Short sleep duration ( <5 or 5-6 hours ) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009. As you know, high BP kills.
· Young people ( 25-49 years of age ) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006.
· Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999.
· Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high!!
· Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They increase risks of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Paper published in 2004.
· Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper published in 2006.
In brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM ( Rapid Eye Movement ) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. During the night, you alternate between REM and non-REM stages 4-5 times.
The earlier part of sleep is mostly non-REM. During that period, your pituitary gland releases growth hormones that repair your body. This part of sleep is when HGH or Human Growth Hormone is naturally generated. If you are not asleep, what happens is that you generate cortisol which is a stress hormone that has the long term effects of accelerating ageing and leading the production of toxic substances like IL-6, TNF-alpha and cRP.
In Chinese Medicine we have the concept of chi and its movement in different meridians at different times. The Liver Meridian is particularly active from 1.00 am to 3.00am. If you are asleep, your Liver Meridian can properly detoxify as well as your mesenchymal matrix. If you are not, then this function is perverted and your natural cellular detoxification mechanisms start shutting down. This prepares your body for the development of severe and chronic diseases.
The latter part of sleep is more and more REM type. For you to be mentally alert during the day, the latter part of sleep is more important. No wonder when you wake up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, you are mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep). And if you have slept for less than 5 hours, your body is in a complete physical mess ( lack of non-REM sleep ), you are tired throughout the day, moving like a zombie and your immunity is way down ( I’ve been there, done that Unfortunately, Ranjan Das is not alone when it comes to missing sleep. Many of us are doing exactly the same, perhaps out of ignorance.
In 2007, I developed a devastating infection called rheumatic fever and experienced heart failure (heart function dropped to 30%). This was a period in my life when I was eating well, exercising well (too well- averaging almost 12 hours in aerobics, weights and Martial arts) and sleeping 5 hours a day. There was one month when I worked right through non-stop and the infection struck. My blood profile was perfect except for elevated CRP, Creatinine Kinase and the infection marker. All the other markers of heart disease like cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, sodium and potassium were perfect. It has taken me almost two years to get back to normal.
Now I routinely screen every client in my practice for sleep deprivation. At least 70% of my clients have varying degrees of this with about 20% being severely sleep deprived.
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