IS IT HEALTHY TO SLEEP LESS?

Sleep is a natural biological process that is essential for all of us. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring the adequate functioning of all the organs and processes of the body. Sleep disruptions can have both short-term and long-term unfavourable health consequences. Unfortunately, sleep related issues and disorders have gained prevalence in recent years and are increasing day-by-day. Studies indicate that approximately 70 million people in the US and 45 million people in Europe suffer from chronic sleep disorder. Driver’s sleepiness is one of the major causes of car accidents. National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey and 35% of Americans rated their sleep quality either as fair or poor.

Some of the causes or risk factors associated with sleep disruptions are -

  1. Lifestyle factors like consumption of alcohol or excessive caffeine, rotational shifts, long working hours, jet lag, substance abuse, late-night use of mobiles, watching TV, etc.
  2. Environmental factors like excessive noise or light.
  3. Psychological factors like stress, anxiety, depression, worry, etc.
  4. Medical conditions like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, pain, usage of certain medications, neurological disorders, etc.

How much sleep do we need?

As per the National Sleep Foundation, sleep requirements vary depending upon the age and other associated factors.

NATIONAL SLEEP FOUNDATION (US)

AGE GROUP

RECOMMENDATION

Newborns (0-3 months)

14-17 hours

Infants (4-11 months)

12-15 hours

Toddlers (1-2 years)

11-14 hours

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

10-13 hours

Children (6-13 years)

9-11 hours

Teenagers (14-17 years)

8-10 hours

Young adults (18-25 years)

7-9 hours

Adults (26-64 years)

7-9 hours

Older Adults (≥65 years)

7-8 hours

 Why there is a need for adequate sleep?

Lack of sleep or sleep disturbances results affects the metabolic rate adversely. Our metabolic rate slows down and the level of hunger hormones are altered. Leptin and ghrelin are the two hunger hormones which regulate our satiety and appetite, respectively. Studies conducted by Taheri et al (2004) have shown that participants having short sleep durations have elevated levels of ghrelin but reduced levels of leptin. The BMI levels were high, which in turn was associated with increased risk of obesity and diabetes.

Impaired sleep also affects our brain functioning. It affects the concentration power, memory and overall cognitive functioning of the body. Prolonged lack of sleep results in mood swings, hallucinations, anxiety, depression and makes the person drowsy and lethargic throughout the day. Beta-amyloid is found in the fluid between the brain and is a metabolic waste product for our body. Studies have shown that regular sleep is necessary for the continuous removal of beta-amyloid from our brain. Lack of sleep results in elevated levels of beta-amyloid which clumps up to form plaques and hiders the smooth functioning of neurons. These plaques can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease in the long run.

Sleep is crucial for optimal athletic performances. Better sleep not only improves one’s immunity but also reduces the risk of getting injured or falling sick. Athletes often report of inadequate sleep due to various reasons like performance stress, anxiety, travelling, competition schedules and overtraining. But to enhance their performance, proper rest is mandatory.

Prolonged sleep disturbances result in the development of disorders like insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, circadian rhythm disorders and narcolepsy. Multiple studies provide linked obesity with obstructive sleep apnea.

Irregular sleep cycle also decreases insulin sensitivity and makes our body insulin resistant, thereby increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that sleep-deprived people consume 20% more calories as compared to their daily requirement.

To conclude, it can be seen that it is not healthy to sleep less. Lack of proper sleep can affect our metabolic processes and can result in hormonal imbalance. Aim to sleep for at least 7-8 hours per day.

  • Try to sleep and get up at the same time, every day.
  • Maintain a regular physical activity schedule.
  • Lose weight, if you are overweight.
  • Avoid excess consumption of caffeine.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Refrain from using your smartphones, electronic gadgets and TV during sleep time.
  • Avoid using sleep medications, without your doctor consultation.
  • Try meditation and deep breathing exercise to relax your nerves.

REFERENCES

Medic. Goran, Wille. Micheline, EH Hemels, Michiel. (2017),Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption, Dovepress. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449130/

Taheri. Shahrad, Lin. Ling, Austin. Diane, Young. Terry, Mignot. Emmanuel,(2004), Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index,PLOS Med. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/

Chaput. Jean-Philippe, Dutil. Caroline, Sampasa-Kanyinga, Hugues. Sleeping hours: what is the ideal number and how does age impact this?, Nature and Science of Sleep. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6267703/

Paruthi. Shalini, Brooks. Lee J, D’Ambrosio. Carolyn, Hall. Wendy A, et all. (2016), Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for Healthy Children: Methodology and Discussion, Journal of Clinical: Sleep Medicine. Referred from https://www.aasm.org/resources/pdf/pediatricsleepdurationmethods.pdf

Sleep deprivation increases Alzheimer’s protein (2018) National Institutes of Health. Referred from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/sleep-deprivation-increases-alzheimers-protein

AM. Watson,(2017), Sleep and Athletic Performance,PublMed.gov. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29135639

Mesarwi. Omar, Polak. Jan, Jun. Jonathan, Y. Polotsky, Vsevolod. Sleep disorders and the development of insulin resistance and obesity, PMC. Referred from

 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767932/

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