Score a goal with more sleep, less beer

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Life - By LIU ZHI­HUA

The once-in-four-years soc­cer World Cup is here and fans in­China are thrilled, but the 11-hour time dif­fer­ence be­tween China and Brazil, the tour­na­ment’s host this year, is spoil­ing some of the fun.

Al­though mil­lions of soc­cer-crazyChi­nese people are stay­ing up night af­ter night to watch as many matches as they can in the month­long af­fair, re­ports of health prob­lems trig­gered by sleep de­pri­va­tion are also trick­ling in.

At least five people have died of strokes and heart at­tacks, af­ter watch­ing games con­tin­u­ously at nights, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports from Shang­hai, and Jiangsu and Guang­dong prov­inces.

Now, doc­tors are ask­ing soc­cer fans to take it easy.

“From a doc­tor’s per­spec­tive, it is wise to sac­ri­fice one’s sleep and health only to a rea­son­able ex­tent, be­cause other­wise, the ef­fects mightbe­deadly,” saysGuoLi­jun, ase­nior car­di­ol­o­gist with the Pek­ing Univer­sity Third Hospi­tal. Guo says he gets the whole frenzy but cau­tions against med­i­cal risks.

Stud­ies have shown that sleep de­pri­va­tion is as­so­ci­ated with in­creased in­ci­dence of strokes and heart at­tacks, es­pe­cially among people who al­ready have car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems, such as di­a­betes and high blood pres­sure, or people with a his­tory of heart ail­ments in fam­i­lies, he says.

How­ever, be­cause most car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases of­fer lit­tle warn­ing in daily life, many people are not aware of its threats, he adds. In emerg­ing economies such as China, where hec­tic liv­ing is leading to seden­tary life­styles and un­healthy eat­ing habits, a large num­ber of young people tend to suf­fer from obe­sity and car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems.

“While people stay up (at night) and binge on beer and high-fat food, get­ting ex­cited, they don’t know they might be risk­ing their lives,” Guo says.

He warns against stay­ing con­tin­u­ously awake, and sug­gests that people take leave from work to sleep dur­ing the day if they aren’t able to re­sist the temp­ta­tion of watch­ing back-to-back matches at night.

A young per­son with­out ma­jor health is­sues can man­age on four hours of sleep as a min­i­mum re­quire­ment in 24 hours, but people with heart-re­lated prob­lems or other health is­sues need to sleep longer, ex­perts say.

Sleep de­pri­va­tion is bad for the stomach as well, ac­cord­ing to ZhangKe­jian, a specialist on di­ges­tive tract dis­eases with the Bei­jing-based China-Ja­pan Friend­ship Hospi­tal.

Hu­mans have body clocks that largely fac­tor in when to eat or sleep, but late-night ac­tiv­i­ties dis­rupt the clock and in­flu­ence the se­cre­tion of di­ges­tive en­zymes that lead to in­di­ges­tion and ab­dom­i­nal dis­ten­sion among other prob­lems, Zhang says.

For people who al­ready suf­fer from di­ges­tive tract ail­ments such as gas­tric ul­cer, stay­ing up late while snack­ing and drink­ing al­co­hol — as many soc­cer lovers do — is a bad idea. Acute pan­cre­ati­tis, which is a sud­den swelling of the pan­creas, and can be lethal, could re­sult from such ex­cesses.

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