“Having be able to fend off invaders. For

peace, happiness, and healthiness is my definition of beauty and you can’t have
any of that without sleep,” says Beyonce Knowles – An essence of ‘Importance of
Sleep’ well captured, I would say.     


Your body
needs sleep, just as it needs air, food and water to function at its best.


While most
health experts talk about the importance of diet and exercise for healthy
lifestyle, only few draw attention to the importance of sleep. Research however
shows that sleep is just as important as eating healthy and exercising.
Consistently getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night is beneficial for
health. Any more or less can increase your risk for serious chronic health
conditions. Unfortunately, a lot of factors today are interfering with natural sleep
patterns. People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep
quality has declined as well.


Factors affecting sleep



Excess alcohol/caffeine

Irregular sleeping patterns


Environmental factors

Physical/medical problems


Dr. Manvir
Bhatia, Director of Sleep medicine and Senior consultant Neurology at Fortis
Escorts Heart Institute-New Delhi and Neurology Sleep Centre, New Delhi mentioned in one of his
appearances for one of the leading healthcare technology brands, “Owing to our
busy lifestyles and hectic schedule, we avoid taking care of ourselves and
health takes a backseat. Snoring, lack of sleep, if untreated can lead to an
increased risk of severe medical conditions like Obstructive sleep apnea which
can further lead to life treating health issues like diabetes, weight gain,
high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.”


affects you more than you think. When you sleep, your body heals itself. Sleep
deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces to fight
against the foreign bodies that cause infections. If you don’t get enough
sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders. For example, sleep is
involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep
deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease,
high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.




Aditi, a 17
year old girl visited doctor for her weight gain issues. She specifically
mentioned that she doesn’t eat much food and does moderate exercise too.
However, she has been putting on a lot of weight off late and no diet and
exercise is really helping her to lose weight. After a detailed case study of
her day to day activities, which included her diet, exercise and sleep patterns
was taken, it was found that she had sleep issues and was unable to sleep for
more than 4-5 hours a day. Doctor estimated this to be the reason of her sudden
weight gain, because several research studies estimate that people with short
sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate
sleep. In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for
obesity. In one of the review studies on this aspect, children and adults with
short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese, respectively.


The effect
of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors,
including hormones and motivation to exercise. Research also suggests that good
sleepers tend to eat fewer calories. Studies show that sleep deprived
individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep
deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is
believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of
ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin,
the hormone that suppresses appetite.


Therefore, if
you are trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial.


In this case
too, Aditi was advised to sleep at least for 8-9 hours daily. Doctor also
suggested her diet and exercise regimen. As a cumulative effect of all this,
Aditi started losing weight slowly but steadily. It was magical, she said. She
never thought that sleep would be affecting her health so much.


Even celebrities are not spared


Ram Kapoor,
a renowned actor collaborated with Philips Healthcare India to raise awareness
on a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Says Ram, “A few years back when I went
for a medical check-up, I got to know about the disease sleep apnea. My doctor
suggested getting a check-up since I was overweight and my snoring had
significantly increased. Currently, India is suspected to have over 91 million
people suffering from sleep apnea and not even a significant number of
population is aware of their condition. I think we should take our sleep
seriously for a healthy lifestyle.”


Good Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity


Sleep is
important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition,
concentration, productivity and performance. All of these are negatively
affected by sleep deprivation.  


A study on
medical interns provides a good example. Interns who did not have enough sleep
made 36 per cent more serious medical errors than interns who slept properly. Another
study found short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to
a similar degree as alcohol intoxication.


surprisingly, there are many documented consequences for sleep deprivation.
Among them:

Reduced decision-making skills

Poor memory

Reduced concentration

Reduced work efficiency

Shortened attention span

Reduced alertness

Poor judgment

Reduced awareness of the environment and situation

Slower than normal reaction time


Good sleep,
on the other hand, has been shown to improve problem solving skills and enhance
memory performance of both children and adults.


Case study


Mohit was a
32-year-old medical representative. His job was to increase product awareness,
answer queries, provide advice and introduce new products to the doctors and
other medical professionals. He was a bright student back in college but off
late he was finding it extremely difficult to focus on his work when it came to
memorizing or presenting certain details about his products. It was getting
increasingly difficult to meet his targets. It affected him professionally and
gradually it led to depression.


Being in the
profession of medicine, he knew many physicians and thought of discussing his
problem with them. His physician asked him general details about his lifestyle
and prescribed few anti-depressants. However, it worked only temporarily. After
a few months it was diagnosed that Mohit slept only for 3-4 hours in night. He suffered
from insomnia and this was the reason behind his poor memory, reduced
concentration and reduced work efficiency.          


We are in
the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis, says Arianna Huffington, the
co-founder and editor-in-chief of The
Huffington Post. She affirms, “And this has profound consequences – on our
health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness. What is
needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep
can we take back control of our lives.” Her book ‘The Sleep Revolution’ sounds the alarm on our worldwide sleep
crisis and provides a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can
help transform our lives, our communities, and our world.

In Mohit’s
case too, the treatment focus was shifted to improving the sleep quality and it
did wonders to him. He now had an improved memory and his concentration levels
improved too.


Good sleep
has many more benefits than you can ever think of.     


Good Sleep Can Maximize Athletic Performance

The modern
athlete knows that physical conditioning and good nutrition are critical in
reaching peak athletic performance; however, sleep, while often overlooked,
plays an equally important role. In recent years, it’s become clear that the quality
and quantity of sleep obtained by elite athletes can be the edge between
winning and losing on game-day.


Says Casey
Smith, Head Athletic Trainer, Dallas Mavericks, “If you told an athlete you had
a treatment that would reduce the chemicals associated with stress, that would
naturally increase human growth hormone, that enhances recovery rate, that
improves performance, they would all do it. Sleep does all of those things.”


It’s proven…


In a study
on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed,
accuracy, reaction times, and mental wellbeing.


A study of
over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip
strength, and greater difficulty performing independent activities.


Beyond acute
injuries, one recent study on Major League Baseball (MLB) players has shown
fatigue can shorten the playing careers of professional athletes.


Sleep disorders are one of the major causes of accidents


According to
the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) and reports from
the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA), some accidents can partly be
attributed to people suffering from a severe lack of sleep. About 70 million
Americans suffer from sleep problems; among them, nearly 60 percent have a
chronic disorder. Each year, sleep disorders, sleep deprivation, and sleepiness
add an estimated $15.9 billion to the national health care bill.

According to
the NHSA, falling asleep while driving is responsible for at least 100,000
crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths each year in the United States. Hence
Road safety is a critical challenge faced by road users and authorities. It is
estimated that nearly 20% of all accidents is caused by fatigue as per The
Royal society for prevention of accidents (RoSPA).


Sleep deprivation has link to substance abuse

According to
a long-term study published in the 2004 April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, young teenagers whose
preschool sleep habits were poor were more than twice as likely to use drugs,
tobacco or alcohol.


Poor Sleep Is Linked to Depression

health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality
and sleeping disorders. It has been estimated that 90% of patients with
depression complain about sleep quality. Poor sleep is even associated with
increased risk of death by suicide. Those with sleeping disorders, such as
insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea, also report significantly higher rates of
depression than those without.


How much sleep does an adult person need?


individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16
hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However,
some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as
little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve
slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t
decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time
may be reduced. (Van Dongen & Dinges,
Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2000) 


Importance of sleep for children


Sleep is
especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical
development. … During the deep states of NREM sleep, blood supply to the
muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and
important hormones are released for growth and development.


How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?



May be

Toddlers 1-2 years

11 to 14 hours

9 to 10 hours 15 to 16 hours

Preschoolers 3-5 years

10 to 13 hours

8 to 9 hours 14 hours

School-aged Children 6-13 years

9 to 11 hours

7 to 8 hours 12 hours

Teenagers 14-17 years

8 to 10 hours

7 hours 11 hours


Celebrity talk


Halle Berry


I love to
sleep. When I am rested, I’m at my best.   


Christina Aguilera

People spend
money on beauty potions, but a good night’s rest makes all the difference.    


Jennifer Lopez


Sleep is my
weapon. I try to get 8 hours of sleep. I think what works best is sleep, water,
– and a good cleanser. 


Paltrow once mentioned, “For me, sleep is a major
thing. I don’t always get it and when I don’t, I look like I have been hit by a


I'm Mary!

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