Pay off sleep debt

snooze time

Pay off sleep debt

With the start of the New Year, many people resolve to pay off their credit card bills, loans and other debts. At the same time, how about a resolution to pay off your sleep debt?

Sleep is a state of altered consciousness with decreased ability to react to external stimuli. It is the most important aspect of one’s life but does not get due importance in the forever busy world that we live in.

Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial to a person’s ability to function properly, and sleeping too little or too much has many health consequences. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has recommended that adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every day. The dramatic increase in the incidence of obesity and diabetes over the past three to four decades overlaps with the progressive decrease in self-reported sleep duration.

Link with diabetes

In normal individuals sleep is the longest period of fasting and hence the body adapts to this state by reducing insulin sensitivity, insulin secretory response and glucose utilisation. Sleep deprivation offsets this balance resulting in impaired glucose tolerance. One of the major links is that sleep deprivation leads to elevation of ghrelin, the hunger hormone along with decrease in the satiety hormone, leptin in the release of growth hormone and directly contributes to increased appetite and hunger. This is the possible reason for increased indulgence in carbohydrate rich foods that is seen in people with poor sleep.

Other impacts of sleep deprivation in humans include:

Decrease in the metabolic activity of the brain
Decrease in core body temperature
Decrease in function of the immune system

Due to lack of sleep we also tend to exercise less or not at all on the subsequent day. This in the long run can increase the chance of obesity, insulin resistance and subsequently lead to diabetes. Studies have indicated that too little or too much sleep can lead to the development of pre-diabetes as well as type 2 diabetes.

Disturbed sleep

Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common form of sleep disturbed breathing. This occurs due to closure of throat while sleeping, leading to pauses in breathing which results in gasping.

Obesity is the major risk factor that is responsible for both sleep apnoea and diabetes mellitus. Apart from diabetes, sleep apnoea is a risk factor for developing hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
Here are some tips that can help you get a good night’s sleep:

Set a strict bedtime for all days
Avoid using electronic devices like computer, TV or phone while in bed
Keep your bedroom dark to signal the brain to go to sleep
Exercise daily
Avoid daytime naps
 Manage stress

(The author is consultant diabetologist, Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre, Bengaluru)

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