Articles on sleep deprivation

Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Sleep is a fundamental requirement just like food and diet is for the functioning of a healthy body. Sleep even lays the ground work for a productive day ahead. Although most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function well the next day, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 1998 Women and Sleep Poll found that the average woman aged 30-60 sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the workweek.Studies show that women need more sleep than men. "Poor sleep certainly had a more profound effect on women than on men," says Edward Suarez, Ph.D., an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine "One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. During deep sleep, the cortex — the part of the brain responsible for thought, memory, language and so on — disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode,” Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in England, told The Australian. "The more of your brain you use during the day, the more it needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need. Women tend to multi-task — they do lot at once and are flexible — and so they use more of their actual brain than men do.”It follows that, if men used their brains more during the day, they would need a couple of extra hours too. "A man who has a complex job that involves a lot of decision-making and lateral thinking may also need more sleep than the average male — though probably still not as much as a woman,” Horne said. Getting the right amount of sleep is vital, but just as important is the quality of your sleep. Biological conditions of women are unique, like the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. All of these conditions can affect how well a woman sleeps. This is because the changing levels of hormones that a woman experiences throughout the month and over her lifetime, like the levels of estrogen and progesterone, have an impact on sleep.Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of heart disease and obesity because lack of sleep causes increases secretion of the leptin hormone, which leads to excessive food cravings and may cause obesity. This even causes heart disease if left untreated. Lack of sleep leads to diabetes due to increased levels of the stress hormone, which stimulates the production of insulin and causes high blood sugar level, as well as more stress, depression, anxiety, and anger. However, these associations were weaker for men.So go to bed at the same time every day of the week, avoid heavy meals before bed, establish a relaxing bedtime routine, nap occasionally to make up for lost sleep, eat healthy and exercise daily.

6 Simple Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Dr. Era S. Dutta, Psychiatrist
Insomnia is a leading cause of stress amongst most working-class population. It affects mood, work quality, and your overall well-being. If lately you find yourself not sleeping well and are experiencing all of the above mentioned things then here are a few simple tips that you should try- 1. Identify the causeThis is the first and foremost step for solving any problem. Try to ask yourself some basic questions like- Is there something on your mind which is bothering you now more than earlier? e.g. Stress can often make you feel anxious and make it difficult for you to fall sleep.2. Tire yourself out physicallyIt is good to regularly practice some form of physical activity during the day e.g. exercise, yoga, etc. It helps you to fall asleep more easily. It also helps you to get better quality of sleep.3. Do not go to bed on an empty stomach It is essential to keep your nutrition up to the mark and never go to bed on an empty stomach. 4. Do not worry about not being able to sleepIt has been scientifically shown that worrying about not being able to sleep actually worsens a person's ability to sleep. People tend to make themselves more nervous about not being able to sleep for adequate hours. By doing so they are more likely to stay awake. It is a vicious circle.5. NO MOBILE PHONES IN BED!You can read a magazine or a book, but the light from the smartphones affects your ability to sleep properly.6. No clock-watchingDo not keep checking the time every few minutes.If despite following these basic steps of sleep hygiene you are unable to get sound sleep, it is best to consult with a psychiatrist who will guide you and help you with curing your insomnia.

5 Dangers of Not Sleeping Enough

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Lack of sleep affects every physiologic function of the body. You already know that lack of sleep can make you irritable throughout the day. What you may not know is what it can do to your memory, health, physical appearance and even your ability to lose weight. Here are 5 dangers of not sleeping enough:1. Sleep Loss makes you DumbLack of sleep may affect the brain development by decreasing cognitive processes like thinking and learning. This makes it more difficult to learn or think efficiently, technically making you dumber.2. Sleep Loss causes DepressionInsomnia has been linked to depression. Sleep loss contributes to cause depression. It may make you lethargic, irritable and stressful throughout your day.3. Sleep Loss ages your skinLosing sleep causes lackluster skin, fine lines and dark circles under the eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, the body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol which may breakdown the skin collagen that keeps the skin smooth and elastic. Sleep loss also causes the body to release less human growth hormone.4. Sleep Deprivation can lead to serious Health problemThe clinical consequences of untreated sleep disorders may lead you to numerous serious medical illnesses for e.g. heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.5. Sleep Lose can make you gain weightLack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. Losing sleep decreases Leptin levels and elevates Ghrelin levels, which stimulates hunger. It not only stimulates your appetite but also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.You should hit the snap for at least 7-8 hours every night.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Dr. Darpan Kaur, Psychiatrist
Sleep is a an essential physiological function of the human body. Sleep plays a very important function in restoring the wear and tear of daily life and providing the desired rest and restitution to the body and mind. As we grow older, the quality of our sleep may change. When we are younger as in childhood we tend to have more hours of sound sleep but as we  grow older the number of hours we sleep and the quality of sound sleep can deteriorate significantly. Moreover, the demands of work, professional deadlines, travel stress, physical ill health, excessive gadgets usage before bedtime, mental stress, all of these can contribute towards poor sleep! Some of the common sleep problems are difficulty in falling asleep. difficulty in maintaining sleep, sleep disturbances such as bad dreams excessively, night mares, etc, sleeping too less or too much and not feeling fresh after getting up from sleep. In today's life style of travelling across the globe and night shifts can lead to disturbance in our body's natural circadian rhythm which can lead to jet lag, shift work sleep disorder, etc. Poor sleep quality can also be associated with cardiac events and accidents. Poor sleep can make us inattentive , irritable, distracted, restless, sleepy and groggy at our workplace and study place. A person having chronic untreated sleep problems can also have problems with efficiency and work performance.  Insomnia, Hypersomnia, Parasomnia are types of sleep disorders. Certain medical conditions, medications and substances such as alcohol, cannabis, nicotine can also interfere with sleep. Sleep disturbance is also a part of psychiatric disorders such as adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, mania,psychosis, addictions, etc. Children can have bed wetting and night terrors during sleep. I have written some dos and donts which is not a fully comprehensive list, yet can be helpful for getting good sleep.Dos:It is preferable to stop late night use of gadgets, apps, internet, TV viewing if you are having problems in falling asleep. Learn to switch off from all of these everyday at least an hour before you go to sleep. Practice relaxation daily before going to sleep. Deep breathing exercises while lying on your bed with a focus on breathing slowly and being aware of each breath and slowing down your system with use of some positive images in your mind can help in falling asleep.Late Evening prayers can helpful for sleep based on your own belief systems.Eat light meals at bedtime and drinking a cup of warm milk can help in getting sleep.You may add almonds, cashew nuts, saffron, etc based on your preference. Taking a relaxing shower prior to bedtime can help sleep well. Do cut down on daily intake of excessive consumption of sugar, salt, oil,spices in your diet if you are experiencing severe gastrointestinal discomfort while falling asleep and also waking up at night feeling uneasy, bloated, acidity, pain in abdomen, etc.Monitor  daily intake of tea and coffee and cut down intake if you have problems with sleep.Be positive at bedtime. Live for each day to its fullest ! Tell your mind positive self statements at bed time that " Yes, I am doing good! I am doing fine! Things are great! Life has been good to me! I shall conquer all my problems! No need to worry! Things are in control! Situation will get better! I can work something out! Life is beautiful! I am doing well for myself! Things will change for the best! "' These kind of positive statements said to yourself can help you gain  control over negative defeating thoughts which maybe coming in your mind at bedtime while you stare at the ceiling trying to fall asleep at night especially when you are facing difficult stressful times. Try to cut down on smoking and chewing tobacco. Seek professional help for de-addiction from nicotine and tobacco.Try to cut down on alcohol if you are facing problems in sleep  related to alcohol. Seek professional help in quitting alcohol.  Drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, etc have harmful consequences on sleep and mental health. Seek professional help to quit from them.Try to have a fixed schedule of sleeping at the same time and waking up at the same time everyday. Pay attention to your bed room, clean the bed room regularly, keep changing sheets regularly and keep replacing old bed sheets, pillows, pillow covers regularly. Pay attention to the right temperature settings and dress in comfortable night clothes as per your preference.Donts:Do not drink excessive caffeine, tea, stimulant drinks before going to sleep or  late evening if you are having problems falling asleep.Tobacco  can interfere with sleep and avoid smoking or chewing tobacco just before going to bed. Alcohol can interfere with sleep and avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed.Do not indulge in drugs such as cannabis , cocaine, heroin,etc as they interfere with sleep.Do not eat heavy meals or drink too much water just before going to bed.Avoid excessive TV viewing or internet viewing just before going to sleep. Avoid excessive texting and playing online games just before going to sleep.Do not do excessive rigorous exercise  very late evening if u are having a persistent problem in falling asleep  as it can switch on certain neurotransmitters and can interfere in falling asleep for some individuals.Do not use your bed for eating, drinking, studying, watching TV, working/surfing on your lap top. Do not sleep with lights and gadgets on as it can cause sleep interference.Do not think and worry excessively about how was your day, who upset you, why u did this or that and why you shouldn't have done this or that. All these ruminations, worries, anxiety just before going to sleep will certainly affect your sleep. Do not cry or pick up quarrels with others before going to sleep as it will affect your sleep quality.Do not keep getting up and checking the phone, alarm clock or the watch to see what is the time again and again.Do not have a varied sleeping schedule which is very erratic where in one day you sleep at eleven pm the second day at one am and third day at three am. Do not take long hours of nap in the afternoon or evening as it then interferes in falling asleep at night. If despite your best efforts, you are not able to get good sleep, kindly consult a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will screen you for a psychiatric disorder where sleep disturbance may be a predominant symptom such as anxiety disorder, stress related disorder, depression, mania, psychosis, etc. They will assess you and provide you treatment for your sleep problems based on whether you have Insomnia, Hypersomnia or Parasomnia related conditions. After clinically evaluating you, they may suggest some tests, teach you relaxation training, sleep hygiene therapy and psychological therapy targeting the cause of your sleep problems. They may also prescribe you medications for the sleep condition you suffer from.  He/She may also refer you to a Neurologist or  a Sleep Physician as per clinical expertise for conditions such as Sleep Apneas, Nocturnal Epilepsy, Narcolepsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, etc which may need a a comprehensive  evaluation with Sleep Lab based assessments and multidisciplinary interventions.

Lack of Sleep Makes You Gain Weight

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
You are too busy to eat and yet you are putting on weight. Are you getting enough sleep? Maybe this is what really sabotaging your weight and not your diet. Lack of sleep makes us crave more cups of coffee/tea or high sugar food like biscuits to perk us up. All this result in added calories. Besides if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly. Getting little or disturbed sleep causes hormonal imbalance which leads to weight gain. Sleep is very important. Here are some facts about how sleep might be affecting your health -Lead you to Overeating: Many studies have shown that your diet and your sleep patterns are related. Lack of sleep can lead to disturbed physiology of your body. So, when you do not get enough sleep it may lead to cravings and over-consumption of calories because when you are craving for food it is so easy to get tempted to reach for a cup of coffee and a doughnut for a quick shot of energy. But this will only adds up to your weight so sleeping at least eight hours each night helps you in managing your weight.Hormonal imbalance: Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep increases the chances of getting obese. Many studies have shown that when you do not sleep enough it disturbs your hormonal balance by increasing the level of ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hormone known for its affect on appetite and disturbed level of ghrelin hormone leads to increased appetite. Disturbed hormones level also lead to irritation or frustration feeling without any specific reason.Effects your metabolism: When your body is deprived of sleep your metabolism slows down and will not function properly. It directly affects your weight loss as your body is not working effectively in burning the calories. That slowdown triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which increases appetite. Your body thinks it needs more energy and that’s why you feel hungry.For better health and to manage your weight it is important to get 8 hours of sleep a night. If you have trouble sleeping try to have a routine of at least 30 minutes exercise during the day and keep pre-bedtime activities relaxing.

Insomnia & Sleep Hygiene

Dr. Suhasini Das, Psychiatrist
Sleep is an important component of our daily activities. It not only provides rest to our conscious mind, it is also the 'repair-time' for the body. Adequate sleep is essential for optimal functioning of the mind and body, especially those tasks that involve our cognitive resources like attention and concentration, learning and memory. Newborn infants can spend 16 to 18 hours per day in sleeping in early months of growth which decrease to 6 to 8 hours per day over years. However, with increasing studies, work pressure and responsibilities, we somewhere end up compromising on our sleep which then can have long term effects. Insomnia or difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep is a common sleep disorder that is encountered very frequently. It can lead to daytime drowsiness, irregular sleep patterns, difficulty in attention and concentration, irritability, use of alcohol to fall asleep, night-time eating behaviours and overall decrease performance and productivity.Insomnia can be the primary disorder or it can be the manifestation of underlying psychiatric illness like depression (most common), anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia or due to substance use like alcohol, cannabis, cocaine etc. At times, insomnia can be due to certain medical conditions too.What is sleep hygiene?Sleep hygiene basically means doing activities that will help in maintaining sound sleep and full daytime alertness. Before starting any medication for insomnia, it is important that we have a good sleep hygiene. Some of the tips are mentioned below:DOs:Maintain regular sleep timingsMaintain regular exercise schedule Give yourself an hour to wind up before going to bedIf you are preoccupied with something, write it down on a paper and deal with in the morningKeep the bedroom quiet, dark and comfortable.DON'Ts:Avoid afternoon napsExercise just before sleep to wear yourself outEat heavy meal just before sleepDrink coffee or tea at nightSmoke cigarettesWatch television or laptop if you cannot get sleepUse alcohol to fall asleepEat in bedTalk on the phoneWatch the clock If all the above points are followed meticulously, you will notice a significant improvement in your insomnia. If however, your insomnia is chronic or lasting more than 1 month, it is advised that you seek professional help rather than self-medicating. It is also advised not take any sleeping pills without recommendation of doctor as side-effects like drowsiness, dependency, rebound irritability can develop on long-term use without proper guidance. 

Weight Loss Can Prevent and Cure Sleep Apnea

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Apnea literally means "cessation of breath." If you have sleep apnea, your breath can become very shallow or you may even stop breathing while you are asleep. This state of not breathing can occur for 10 seconds in an hour, or in severe cases, the frequency of cessation of breath may further increase. The repeated episodes of apnea (lack of breathing) cause frequent night time awakening.Individuals with this disorder often complain of morning headaches, constant fatigue, and moodiness, and can fall asleep almost anywhere. More seriously, they can fall asleep even while driving. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common in obese individuals. It is believed that the airway of obese individuals get obstructed by large tonsils, an enlarged tongue and increased fat in the neck. This presses airways when the pharyngeal (throat) muscles are relaxed during sleep. A person's neck circumference is a good predictor of sleep apnea. Obese men with a neck circumference of 17 inches or greater, and women with a neck circumference of 16 inches or greater are more likely to have sleep apnea.The worst part is that it is not only obesity that has an association with sleep apnea, but sleep apnea even results in poor sleep which increases food cravings. Lack of good quality sleep increases the chances of hormonal imbalance by increasing the level of ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hormone known for its effects on appetite and disturbed levels of ghrelin hormone leads to an increased appetite which further leads to weight gain.Individuals with sleep apnea often have elevated blood pressure, high fasting glucose, and high cholesterol. Lack of sleep triggers stress hormones which stimulate the cell’s glycogen to get converted into glucose. This suppresses the function of insulin due to which blood sugar levels shoot up leading to diabetes and heart problems, all of which can worsen with further sleep deprivation. So, it's a vicious cycle. Obesity can lead to sleep apnea, which, itself, then causes derangements of hormones that control eating habits, leading to more weight gain, worsened blood pressure, glucose intolerance, worsened apnea and the cycle goes on and on.So, healthy eating with exercise leads to weight loss and not only helps in preventing such a vicious cycle of health problems but also helps in the cure of sleep apnea.