The lack of sleep can have a negative impact on energy, mood, concentration and overall health.
Sleep disorders and deprivation have all kinds of grave consequences, including a heightened risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, depression and even sudden death.
From insomnia to sleep deprivation, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong when we do not sleep enough, or when we change our bedtime due to our lifestyle. In one of the episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, model Kendall Jenner discussed her struggles with sleep. “I wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t move,” she said, describing a typical episode of sleep paralysis — a common sleep disorder that is classified as a “parasomnia”, where episodes can cause you to feel intense anxiety.
Not just that, another sleep disorder — sleep apnea —can lead to sudden cardiac death. A few examples in the recent past are iconic stars Carrie Fisher and Amanda Peterson. The cause of their deaths leave open many unanswered questions.
Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis, regardless of whether they are caused by a health problem or by too much stress. “Sleep disorders include lack of sleep, poor quality of sleep (like obstructive sleep apnea) and abnormal behaviour such as sleep walking, teeth grinding and acting out vivid dreams,” explains Dr Deepika Sirineni, senior consultant neurophysician, Apollo Hospitals.
The lack of sleep can have a negative impact on energy, mood, concentration and overall health. “It is also a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and brain stroke,” adds Dr Deepika.
Sleep apnea: The killer disorder
Disturbed sleep and cardiovascular disease (CVD) have a reciprocal relationship: poor sleep quality may cause or contribute to CVD, and CVD may perturb sleep.
“The normal sleep duration for adults varies, but it is normal and recommended to be in the range of 7 to 9 hours. The risk of cardiovascular disease is higher in those with sleep deprivation and studies have shown that people who sleep for less than 6 hours a day have increased risk of atherosclerotic diseases throughout the body than those who sleep 7 to 8 hours a day. Sleep has also been linked to Circadian rhythm, which controls internal homeostasis i.e. metabolism, blood pressure etc, thereby maintaining normal glucose metabolism, blood pressure etc.,” says Dr M. Sai Sudhakar, chief interventional cardiologist and chief cardiac transplant physician, Gleneagles Global Hospitals.
Studies have shown that short sleep duration imposed on a group of healthy subjects increased sympathetic nervous system activity and blood pressure elevation. Therefore, sustained short sleep duration could lead to adverse cardiovascular consequences. Studies have also shown that individuals who slept less than six hours have increased risks of coronary artery diseases with an increased risk of mortality too. “It is well-known that diabetes, obesity and hypertension are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease, but sleep is also an added risk factor, which is why we are now seeing younger individuals, even teens suffering from heart diseases. Less sleep in the young due to stress, change in job and alcoholism can lead to the above conditions and events. The link between sleep and cardiovascular risk is more in adults, but nowadays, it is seen in teens too,” explains Dr Sudhakar.
“Physicians must educate patients about the importance of sleep and the potential health consequences of poor sleep,” he adds.