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Life Style & Management

Sleep your way to a healthier heart

Bragging to friends that you have the ability to sleep only for a few hours
every night, and getting away with it is a stunt that many youngsters pull off.
One does not realise then, that a disturbed circadian rhythm could actually
be hazardous and even mortally perilous.
One cannot stress enough, the irrevocable role sleep plays in an individual's
general health. Dr Vikas Agrawal, ENT specialist and sleep apnea surgeon
reiterates, "Worldwide research has suggested that insufficient sleep could
lead to many lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, coronary artery disease
and heart attacks. Presence of sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep
apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, both short duration
and long duration of sleep has been associated with a greater risk of dying
from coronary heart disease."
Indians are more prone to heart attacks
Getting the right amount of sleep and reducing unhealthy lifestyle
behaviours is extremely important for a healthy heart. Dr Agarwal says,
"Indians are genetically more prone to get heart disease, so maintaining a
healthy lifestyle is more important for us."
Lack of sleep leads to coronary artery disease
Good quality sleep decreases heart rate and blood pressure, thus decreasing
work of heart. Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, senior cardiologist says, "Lack of
sleep keeps the heart rate and blood pressure elevated. Both are linked to
increased incidence of heart disease. Lack of sleep increases insulin
resistance and the risk of type II diabetes mellitus and also increases Creactive protein, a protein associated with inflammation. Both diabetes and
C-reactive protein are associated with higher incidence of coronary artery
Pay attention to quality of sleep
The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life,
including your productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality,
and even your weight. Dr Nilesh Gautam, senior cardiologist says, "Sleep
isn't merely a time when your body shuts off. While you rest, your brain stays
busy, overseeing a wide variety of biological maintenance that keeps your
body running in top condition, preparing you for the day ahead."
Duration of sleep is also important

Of course, the saying 'Early to bed and early to rise' still holds, but sleep
specialists state that it is not so much the time, but the duration and
regularity of sleep, that is important.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted approximately one hour prior to sleep,
which helps us sleep better. If our sleep timings are irregular, the melatonin
secretion is affected, which in turn disturbs our sleep.
Health problems due to incomplete sleep
Coronary artery disease, Hypertension,Diabetes Stroke, Poor memory and
cognition Excessive daytime sleepiness Excessive fatigue, lethargy and
lack of motivation Obesity Depression Moodiness and irritability
Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills Inability to cope with
stress Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections Concentration and
memory problems Weight gain Impaired motor skills and increased risk of
accident Difficulty making decisions
* Sleep helps to repair your body. Your body produces extra protein
molecules while you are sleeping that helps strengthen your ability to fight
infection and stay healthy. Sleep reduces stress. A good night's sleep can
help lower blood pressure and elevated levels of stress hormones, which are
a natural result of today's fast paced lifestyle. Proper sleep improves your
* Sleep helps control body weight issues
* It reduces the occurrence of mood disorders
According to a recent study report and findings in Indian context, urban
Indian spends more time at work and less time for sleep unlike a rural Indian.
More work is typically related to sedentary activity, unhealthy dietary habit
and more smoking or tobacco consumption. All these have resulted into
more incidence of coronary artery disease and death in urban population
compared to rural population as evidenced by multiple studies.


Adults sleeping less than six hours had

48 per cent increased risk of developing or dying from coronary heart

15 per cent greater risk of developing or dying from stroke
Adults sleeping more than nine to 11 hours
38 per cent increased risk of developing or dying from CHD
65 per cent increased risk of stroke