Are you one of those individuals who works through the night? Do you spend
too much time hooked to the computer or the television till the wee hours,
compromising on your sleep?
Beware — apart from leaving you red-eyed, weary and dozing off in the
middle of an office meeting, lack of adequate sleep can also result in heart
disease, obesity, diabetes and other stress-related disorders.
"As our lives get busier and we try to cram more and more activities into
our already-packed schedules, we sacrifice our sleeping hours," says
consulting dietician Priti Apte.
The amount of necessary sleep varies from person to person, with some
breezing through their days on just a few hours’ slumber and others needing
10 hours of sound rest. "If you feel fresh after five hours of sleep and
complete your tasks with ease throughout the day, five hours is enough for
you,’ she explains. "But most people need around seven to nine hours of
sleep and it’s necessary that the person meet this quota for a healthy
"Regular sleep keeps the mind alert and the body healthy, so that one can
complete one’s daily tasks. It also ensures proper distribution and
digestion of all nutrients in the body," says Priti.
Apart from the fact that lack of sleep has a dire effect on general
wellbeing and health, creativity and mental alertness, people who are unable
to sleep properly at night tend to be weary most of the time and lack the
ability to concentrate.
Housewife Kunika Malhotra, 32, complains that she has problems coping with
minor hassles, gets irritated easily and cannot tolerate noise. Kunika has
been trying to juggle her husband’s late working hours and her children’s
early morning school preparations for some time now and can barely squeeze
in five hours of sleep every night.
"I always think that I will catch up on my sleep over the weekend, but that
has never happened," she says.
According to general practitioner Dr Manoj Bhise, this is not the solution.
He explains, "What one needs is regular, consistent sleep — over-sleeping
once in a while to reduce the backlog won’t help."
Apart from psychological effects, lack of sleep also has an adverse effect
on one’s physical health. Dr Bhise informs us that a sleep deficit may put
the body into a state of high alert, increasing the production of stress
hormones and driving up blood pressure, a major risk factor behind heart
attacks and strokes.
The newest study on obesity, conducted by Columbia University, is the latest
to find that adults who sleep the least appear to be the most likely to gain
weight and to become obese. Says Priti, "Researchers have found that even
mild sleep deprivation quickly disrupts normal levels of the
recently-discovered hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite.
Adds Dr Bhise, "Patients who do not get their daily dose of sleep also
complain about aching muscles and hand tremors, apart from drowsiness during
the daytime."
Other health problems brought on by sleep-deprivation include, dizziness,
hypertension, memory loss, nausea, fatigue, dramatic weight loss or gain.
Erratic sleep schedules also throw the digestive system for a toss, often
leading to constipation.
Says software engineer Mandar Bhave, "I have a US-based client and I was
working through the night most of the week. As a result, I started suffering
bouts of severe headaches and then one day I just collapsed in the office
due to heartburn. The doctors also diagnosed the formation of an ulcer in my
stomach. My body clock was all erratic thanks to irregular, inconsistent
rest. The first thing my doctor advised was to get eight hours of regular
Though most of us know well enough that our bodies need sleep to rest and
recuperate, we continue to reduce our rest time so that we can squeeze in
the increasing demands of our lifestyle.
It’s about time we started listening to our bodies and turning in for a good
night’s sleep everyday. #Prahladananda Swami – 22/9/08

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