Less Shut-eye, More Trouble

Studies show that sleep deprivation causes diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac problems. According to WHO, sleep loss will become an epidemic worldwide.Staying awake throughout the night alters the brain’s chemical composition and body cycle. Trying to go against the biological process is harmful, say doctors

Published: 23rd February 2016 04:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2016 04:26 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: P S Karthick, a 30-year-old who has been working in a BPO company for over a decade, often goes into depression, develops anxiety and gets irritated with people. All doctors he has consulted so far have suggested only one thing- a change in his work timings.

Karthick, who works for a US project, says it’s not possible as it would affect his career growth. “Not only that, I cannot match my current salary in other projects on day shift. But my colleagues who face health problems change their project,” he says.

A study published in New England Journal of Medicine shows that sleep deprivation causes various health complications like diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac problems. World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that sleep deprivation will be the next epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases worldwide.

“Everyone’s body needs 7-8 hours of sleep. People who get lesser will undergo biological changes in the body. Most people who come to me with sleep deprivation have anxiety, fear and lack of energy. The brain’s chemicals also get altered because of this,” says Dr R Balakrishnan, head of psychiatric department, Sri Ramachandra University.

J P Vivek, who has been working in the IT field for over three years, says, “On weekdays, I work nights for a US project and sleep during the day. During weekends, I sleep at night. I find it difficult...my body doesn’t adapt to the changes.”

At night, the human body secretes melatonin, a hormone that helps control sleep and waking cycles. “This hormone is secreted during night time, so the human body longs for sleep. But people who have to stay awake for reasons such as night shifts, force themselves to alter this cycle, which is not advisable,” says Dr N Ramakrishnan, founder and director, Nithra Institute of Sleep Sciences.

For Karthick, who works from 5pm to 2.30am, sleeping during the day is not as refreshing as catching the zzz’s at night. “I reach home around 4.30am and try to sleep. But there is a lot of disturbance at home later in the morning as others’ start their routines. My office cab comes to pick me up around 3pm. This routine keeps me always in a dull mood,” he says. Trying to make the human body work against the biological signals will definitely deprive his sleep, and his life slowly, say doctors.


For Night Owls

Close all the doors and windows and make the room dark — melatonin, the hormone that helps for sleep, gets secreted in the dark

Switch off mobile phones

Eat breakfast; it’s your dinner

Ensure a noise-free environment if possible


Why is sleep important?

Quality and duration of sleep are important to have better cognitive performance, to avoid health problems and psychiartic disorders



Less than 7 hours of sleep a night may have wide-ranging effects on the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems, including:


Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance

Cardiovascular disease and hypertension

Anxiety symptoms


Alcohol use

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