Don’t carry your sleep debt into 2017

Yes, Mumbai is the city that never sleeps, but its citizens are taking that adage quite literally. And it’s causing more harm than ever. More people are sleeping less, which is dangerous, say experts. Do you find yourself in snooze mode all the time, even after getting six hours of shuteye? That’s due to a backlog of sleep debt — a spillover effect of late timings from the weekend into the week and due to poor daily sleeping habits as well. As the year draws to a close, city doctors warn how sleep deprivation has been the single biggest cause of lifestyle diseases this year and why we should resolve to get under the covers on time in the new year…

People cheat on sleep most of the time
Says Dr Prasad Karnik, technical director at an institute of sleep sciences, “In 2016, sleep deprivation has been one of the biggest triggers of lifestyle-related diseases in the city. Today, we do everything at the cost of sleep — last minute preparation for meetings, late night conversations, etc. People think, ‘what does one less hour of sleep harm me?’ But that adds up to one full day of sleep each month and one fortnight, in a year. This has severe repercussions — for one, the growth hormone secretion is less. What’s alarming, is that younger kids are doing this. Our findings show that the ages group 15-35 is most affected by sleep deprivation as compared to others.”

Ways in which it’s harming you
Several studies stress on how sleep disorders are risk factors for various ailments. “Unfortunately, in today’s world, sleep timings have gone haywire causing a number of health issues — from irritability to depression, diabetes and heart disease,” states diabetologist Dr Pradeep Gadge. “An ideal example of how sleep disturbances cause health problems are BPO employees who work in night shifts and sleep during the day. I haven’t seen a single person who works in this pattern and has been doing that for more that 10 years, and not had either diabetes, heart disease or blood pressure or anxiety/depression.” He shares a few tips. “Manage your routine is such a way that you sleep on time and awaken on time. Remember, it is not only the number of hours you sleep, but sleeping on time, that is important. Also, avoid using mobiles/tablets and other gadgets before going to bed. The blue light, which these gadgets emit, has harmful effects on sleep patterns. Meet a doctor if sleep problems persist; don’t take sleep deprivation lightly,” he cautions. Skimping on sleep can also make the skin appear aged. Says dermatologist Dr Soma Sarkar, “Lack of sleep gives you under eye dark circles. It makes the skin look dehydrated and dull. The skin’s lustre is lost and one develops wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.”

Your cellphone is a culprit, too
Technology may have its benefits, but it also keeps you awake at night. A study found that those who were exposed to mobile radiation took longer to fall asleep and also did not enjoy deep slumber.

Trump’s four-hour sleep habit

Through his presidential campaign, Donald Trump spoke of how little he sleeps — from 90 minutes to four hours. He joins the ranks of famous names like Napoleon, Margaret Thatcher and Bill Clinton, all of whom reportedly managed well after little sleep. These are called natural ‘short sleepers’. They turn in well after midnight, get up a few hours later and go through through the day without taking naps or tanking up on caffeine.

The largest sleep-related crashes are triggered by drivers who have not had a decent night’s shuteye. There are warning signs for this:
If you find yourself doing these, stop driving…

  • Yawning or blinking continously.
  • Unable to focus on the road ahead.
  • Missing your turn or exit road.

How Much?
While sleep requirements do vary slightly from person to person, as per the National Sleep Foundation, the sleep range is between 7-9 hours for those in the age of 26-64.

Watch out! Sleep loss may make you fat

Being unable to sleep may up the desire for sugary, fatty foods, says a study. Researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep loss leads to increased consumption of unhealthy foods, specifically sucrose and fat.

It’s also bad for the heart
Working long hours with little sleep puts a strain on the heart, a study has shown. Blood pressure and heart rates increased in 20 workers who were allowed only three hours of sleep out of 24. As per Harvard Medical School, studies show that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15 per cent.

Nap pods are a trend
Good news! You can now nap on the job. Several workplaces are installing nap pods so people can catch power naps and feel rejuvenated. These sleep pods are also available at major airports.

How imbalanced sleep affects you at work
Trying to beat the night clock has its repercussions. They are:

  • Reduction in cognitive ability and performance
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer
  • Rise in obesity and other sedentary illnesses
  • Occurrence of type 2 diabetes
  • Increased stress, which makes one prone to anger and fatigue


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