Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are you sleeping enough?

Lack of sleep can cause numerous health problems

Adequate sleep is extremely crucial for healthy and normal functioning of your body. Sleep in good quantity and quality is essential for physical, mental and emotional well being. It gives the desired rest and recharges the mind and body. Sleep has important homeostatic functions.

Sleep and heart have a close relation both scientifically and emotionally. The emotional relationship has been exploited in music and songs.

In an adult, the average sleep time is usually seven to eight hours and disturbed sleep is most unwelcome as it can have adverse effects on the functioning of various body systems particularly the heart and the brain.

The 24 x 7 lifestyle has relegated sleep to a secondary level of importance since humans have made a conscious decision to sacrifice sleep for completion of their tasks. The amount of sleep that a person needs to function in a normal manner depends on several factors, including age. Infants sleep most of the day (about 16 hours); teenagers usually need about nine hours a day; and adults need an average of seven to eight hours a day. Although older adults require about as much sleep as younger adults, they usually sleep for shorter periods and spend less time in deep stages of sleep. About 50 per cent of adults over the age of 65 have some type of sleep disorder, although it is not clear whether this is a normal part of aging or a result of other factors, such as medications that are commonly used by older people. In most cases, sleep disorders can be easily managed once they are properly diagnosed. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. It occurs more often in women and in the elderly.

Chronic sleep deprivation can have adverse effects on heart, blood pressure and metabolic functions resulting in hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes and stomach-related disorders like indigestion and hyperacidity. Chronic sleep deprivation also causes and/or aggravates snoring which is a prominent symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

OSA is a common sleep disorder. OSA is characterised by repetitive closure of pharynx (a part of upper airway) in sleep causing lowering of oxygen concentrations in sleep. Low oxygen results in rise in blood pressure, rise in heart rate, irregular heart beating and release of stress hormones. The chief complaints in patients of OSA are snoring and daytime sleepiness and tiredness. Increase in body weight also occurs which may be difficult to lose in spite of exercises. OSA can affect both obese and non-obese individuals.

To overcome daytime sleepiness they may consume tobacco, smoke cigarettes or consume excess tea/ coffee, which is again harmful. Patients of OSA are at risk of developing high blood pressure, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity and dementia. Management of OSA is highly rewarding since it not only treats the sleep complaint but also the associated disorders are better managed. Oxygen is the basic requirement of body cells and if this is lacking, be in sleep only, needs to be treated. The basic needs of life- Roti, Kapda aur Makaan (food, clothes and shelter), needs to be rewritten as Oxygen, Roti, Kapda aur Makaan.

Did you know?
There are more than 70 different sleep disorders, which are generally classified into three categories: lack of sleep (e.g, insomnia), disturbed sleep (e.g., obstructive sleep apnea), and excessive sleep (e.g., narcolepsy).

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