Sunday, November 21, 2010

Don't be deprived of sleep, or else...

Not getting enough sleep isn't for anybody, not for babies, not for kids, not for teenagers, and definitely not for adults!

Sleep deprivation can ruin your health

By Amy Yeong

SINGAPORE - Chronic sleep deprivation is a growing problem, particularly in fast-paced societies such as Singapore's.

A survey conducted on 940 students in 28 secondary schools in 2007 revealed that only 2.6 per cent of them were getting the recommended nine hours of sleep. 80 per cent were getting less than eight hours of slumber a night.

A poll conducted this year revealed that most Singaporeans realise that the lack of sleep affects them negatively - the Philips Health Index found that 72 per cent of men in Singapore feel that their mental health is badly affected by lack of sleep, while 57 per cent of women feel the same way.

The dangers of sleep deprivation have been making the headlines in recent years. Lack of adequate, good quality sleep has been linked to weight gain, memory problems, reduced efficiency at work, heart problems and inability to focus and concentrate. It has also been linked with an increased risk of diabetes, fibromyalgia as well as increased blood pressure.

Sleep deprivation is also a well-known trigger for psychiatric illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Chronic sleep deprivation has been known to trigger off episodes of psychosis - such as hallucinations and paranoid thinking - in patients with known case histories of psychiatric conditions.

From the Philips Health Index, it seems encouraging that the majority of Singaporeans are aware of the dangers of sleep deprivation. However, awareness is one issue - actually doing something to change unhealthy behaviour is another.

The first step is to assess if you are sleep deprived. If you are getting less than 6-8 hours of solid sleep everyday, and if you are constantly feeling tired, sleepy during the day, easily irritable, unable to concentrate, and you find that your ability to handle stress has taken a nosedive, chances are that you might be suffering from sleep deprivation.

Second, one has to find out what is causing the problem. For many Singaporeans, it is the fact that there is too much to do in too little time. Oftentimes you hear colleagues and friends remarking that they wished they needed less sleep, or that the day was 48 hours long, just so that they can get more things done. In such cases, one must acknowledge the devastating effects of getting insufficient sleep, and learn to prioritise and say 'no' to certain projects, social engagements or activities.

For some others, the problem lies with sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, or with psychiatric conditions - such as depression and anxiety disorder - that can sometimes interfere with one's sleep. In such cases, it is best to see a doctor for thorough assessment so that appropriate treatment can be given.

In an e-mail interview with AsiaOne Health earlier this year, Dr Lim Li Ling, a consultant neurologist at Singapore Neurology And Sleep Centre noted that "it does not make very good sense to overwork ourselves when our health suffers inevitably as we deprive ourselves of sleep - the price we pay, in my opinion, would be far too high no matter what 'rewards' we get from pushing ourselves so hard at work.

"We become less effective, less efficient and increase our risk of serious diseases like heart disease, depression, diabetes and even early death if we persist in pushing ourselves to get by with less rest than we actually need," she added.

The dangers of sleep deprivation are not over-exaggerated. Said Prof Michael Chee from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore's Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in an article on the school's research site, "Sleep deprivation could be the silent killer of the 21st Century."

The choice, therefore, is ours. We can either persist in trying to 'stay on top of things' by depriving ourselves of essential rest. Or we can take a step back and get our priorities right. The world will not grind to a halt if we go to bed a couple of hours earlier - and that much needed sleep will recharge your mind so that you'll be able to get more done in less time.

The choice seems simple. What would it be for you?

Taken from below source:
Sleep deprivation can ruin your health

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