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Are you sleeping well enough?

Before staying up nights to score off the field before matches with the blessing of the management, India’s cricket team should consider this: sleepless nights cause chronic fatigue, poor concentration and mood disorders, all essential to score on the field.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 26, 2009 23:34 IST
Sanchita Sharma

Before staying up nights to score off the field before matches with the blessing of the management, India’s cricket team should consider this: sleepless nights cause chronic fatigue, poor concentration and mood disorders, all essential to score on the field.

Sleep experts say most of us are not getting as much sleep as our parents did, though a lot more than Team India is likely to get over the next few weeks. The result is chronic insomnia, anxiety pill-dependence and dark circles that would put Ozzy Osborne to shame.

New research this week has given the sleep-deprived another reason to worry. The journal Science reports that lack of sleep is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of age-related dementia. Researchers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St Louis, US, found that sleep deprivation accelerates the formation of amyloid beta, a protein that accumulates in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s. The protein levels rise when you’re awake and fall when you sleep.

Truncated sleep has been linked with high blood pressure, increased stress hormone levels and inflammation, all factors that raise heart disease risk.

Chronic sleep deprivation also interferes with metabolism, causing glucose intolerance and type-2 diabetes. It also causes weight gain by altering metabolic functions, such carbohydrate processing and storage, and by stimulating the release cortisol, a stress hormone linked to increased abdominal fat.

A University of Washington Sleep Institute study reported this summer that those who slept less than seven hours weighed more than those who slept for nine hours or more. Those who slept between 7 and 8.9 hours each night had a healthy weight. A sleepless night or two or a short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about, but if you’ve had restless nights for over two weeks, visit a sleep clinic. The amount of sleep needed varies widely with people, with some making do with 6 hours a night and others needing up to 9 hours. Ideally, you should target for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you don’t, at least don’t lose sleep over it.