Health

How few hours of sleep can cost you

Business Daily (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH OOKO sara­hooko@gmail.com

Most peo­ple with hec­tic work sched­ules are of­ten forced to sacri ce their bed­time hours to meet tight dead­lines and achieve tar­gets. But un­known to most peo­ple, long-term sleep de­pri­va­tion causes ad­verse phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal e ects to the body. Dr Amit Shankar, sleep ex­pert and con­sul­tant Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) spe­cial­ist at Aga Khan Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal, states that for proper func­tion­ing of the brain and body sys­tems, it is rec­om­mended that adults sleep for be­tween seven and nine hours ev­ery night. Sleep de­pri­va­tion or its in­ad­e­quacy, he says, can lower peo­ple’s qual­ity of life hence in­creas­ing their chances of pre­ma­ture or early death. Too lit­tle sleep weak­ens the body’s im­mune sys­tem thus mak­ing peo­ple vul­ner­a­ble to ail­ments when ex­posed to dis­ease caus­ing germs or pathogens. “Peo­ple who sleep for less than ve hours per night have an in­creased risk of de­vel­op­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases such as hy­per­ten­sion, heart at­tacks and strokes.” Aside from en­hanc­ing weight gain, Dr Shankar warns that those who don't get enough sleep have higher blood sugar lev­els and an in­creased risk for type 2 di­a­betes. This is be­cause insu cient sleep a ects the body’s re­lease of in­sulin, a hor­mone which nor­mally helps to reg­u­late the amount of sugar in the body. “Sleep de­pri­va­tion can also make ex­ist­ing res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases such as chronic lung ill­ness, worse.” Lack of sleep, Dr Shankar points out, can neg­a­tively im­pact both short-term and long-term mem­ory. This is be­cause it is dur­ing sleep that the brain con­sol­i­dates mem­o­ries whilst stor­ing them in an eas­ily re­triev­able for­mat. In­ad­e­quate sleep dis­rupts this process and im­pedes peo­ple’s abil­ity to re­mem­ber, which can con­se­quently dis­rupt their lives. This will a ect peo­ple’s con­cen­tra­tion, cre­ativ­ity and prob­lem solv­ing skills. Dr Shankar says that insu cient sleep also in­ter­feres with body bal­ance and co-or­di­na­tion, con­se­quently mak­ing those su er­ing from it to be­come more prone to falls and other phys­i­cal ac­ci­dents. He states: “More­over, it in­creases the risk of car ac­ci­dents due to drowsi­ness dur­ing the day time.” Chronic sleep de­pri­va­tion has also been linked to anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and other psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­ders. A re­cent study con­ducted by re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia (UC) Berke­ley found that sleep-de­prived peo­ple feel lone­lier and are less in­clined to en­gage with oth­ers. They also avoid close con­tact in much the same way as peo­ple with so­cial anx­i­ety. The study noted that this alien­ation makes sleep-de­prived in­di­vid­u­als more so­cially unattrac­tive to oth­ers. Re­searchers found that well-rested peo­ple feel lonely af­ter just a brief en­counter with a sleep-de­prived per­son, po­ten­tially trig­ger­ing a viral con­ta­gion of so­cial iso­la­tion. The nd­ings, which are pub­lished in the Na­ture Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Jour­nal, are the rst to show a two-way re­la­tion­ship be­tween sleep loss and be­com­ing so­cially iso­lated. "We hu­mans are a so­cial species. Yet sleep de­pri­va­tion can turn us into so­cial lep­ers," said Matthew Walker, se­nior au­thor of the study and a UC Berke­ley pro­fes­sor of psy­cholo y and neu­ro­science. “The less sleep you get, the less you want to so­cially in­ter­act. In turn, other peo­ple per­ceive you as more so­cially re­pul­sive, fur­ther in­creas­ing the grave so­cial-iso­la­tion im­pact of sleep loss.” Dr Walker noted that this vi­cious cy­cle may be a signi cant con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the pub­lic health cri­sis that is lone­li­ness. "It's per­haps no co­in­ci­dence that the past few decades have seen a marked in­crease in lone­li­ness and an equally dra­matic de­crease in sleep du­ra­tion. With­out su cient sleep, we be­come a so­cial turn-o , and lone­li­ness soon kicks in," said Eti Ben Si­mon, an­other lead au­thor of the study and a post­doc­toral fel­low in Walker's Cen­tre for Hu­man Sleep Sci­ence at UC Berke­ley. No­tably, re­searchers found that the amount of sleep a per­son got from one night to the next ac­cu­rately pre­dicted how lonely and unso­cia­ble they would feel from one day to the next. "This all bodes well if you sleep the nec­es­sary seven to nine hours a night, but not so well if you con­tinue to short-change your sleep," Walker said. "On a pos­i­tive note, just one night of good sleep makes you feel more out­go­ing and so­cially con dent, and fur­ther­more, will at­tract oth­ers to you." Ac­cord­ing to Dr Shankar, the body’s hor­mone pro­duc­tion sys­tem is de­pen­dent on sleep too. Its de­pri­va­tion can thus a ect pro­duc­tion of growth hor­mones, which are re­spon­si­ble for mus­cle build­ing and tis­sue re­pair in chil­dren and ado­les­cents. “Peo­ple who don't get enough sleep of­ten have a lower libido. In men, this de­creased sex drive may be due to a drop in testos­terone hor­mone lev­els.” Sleep dis­or­ders can be caused by fa­tigue due to hec­tic sched­ules, al­co­hol abuse, phys­i­cal dis­tur­bances like painful ul­cers, med­i­cal is­sues like asthma and psy­chi­atric prob­lems such as de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety dis­or­ders. A night-time breath­ing dis­or­der called Ob­struc­tive sleep Ap­nea (OSA) can also in­ter­rupt sleep and lower its qual­ity.

PEO­PLE WHO DON’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP OF­TEN HAVE A LOWER LIBIDO

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COST It is rec­om­mended that adults sleep for be­tween seven and nine hours ev­ery night.

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