Don’t turn a blind eye to insomnia’s link with diseases and hormone health
by Ramya Kannan
If your grandmother put you to bed telling you that it is essential to sleep, because that is when children do their growing up, she was so right. It has been scientifically proved that at a certain stage of sound sleep, the growth hormone is secreted and gets to work on the body.
A rejuvenating spa
Sleep is also important because it is the time when the body heals itself, sets the pulse rate, respiration and heart beat in a more orderly manner, and allows the muscles to relax. Getting six hours of sleep every day is a rejuvenating spa experience all by itself.
However, loss of sleep leads to a number of psychosocial problems and more chronic medical problems in the long run, explains N. Ramakrishnan of Nithra Sleep Institute. The short-term problems that are common are irritability, memory loss, decreased alertness and attention span, apart from drowsiness during the day.
More complex or chronic medical problems can be caused – hypertension, diabetes, hormonal issues among young women, cardiac and cerebro-vascular complications. “The lack of sleep has an unknown impact on deposition of fat on walls of vessels, causing earlier heart attacks and strokes. It can also cause diabetes, and poor blood sugar control in known diabetics. In fact, we have tied up with some diabetes centres to study the issue more carefully,” Dr. Ramakrishanan explains.
M. Thirunavukarasu, president, Indian Psychiatric Society, and head of Psychiatry, SRM Medical College, says, “There is much evidence to support a strong correlation between insomnia and cardiovascular diseases. In particular, the step-by-step development of hypertension seems to be strikingly linked to the functioning of sleep in the human body,” he says.
Sleep allows the heart to slow down and the blood pressure to drop for a significant part of the day. Dr. Thirunavukarasu adds that blood pressure dips by an average of 10 –20 per cent during sleep, so shorter sleep durations increase 24-hour blood pressure and heart rate, which over time lead to elevated pressure levels.
March is being observed as Sleep Awareness Month, and campaigns during this period also indicate that there is a vicious cycle related to sleep. People tend to eat more or binge for various reasons, also because they want to be engaged outside the bedroom, Dr. Ramakrishnan says. This leads to weight gain, even obesity, and may lead to hypertension, diabetes and cardiac problems.
One of his patients, a male in his mid-40′s came with a sleeping problem that was never addressed.
He had hypertension for a decade, had an angiogram and angioplasty, chronic headaches and three road traffic accidents. He had been to cardiologists, neurologists and psychiatrists, in and out of hospital emergency rooms, and had seen 12 consultants before his sleep problem was diagnosed.
In fact, he adds, there are international guidelines that specify a specialist must check for sleep disorders if hypertension is not adequately controlled with two or medications. Dr. Ramakrishnan also says it is important to create the right circumstances for sleep.
“For instance, avoid looking at computer screens late at night. The cue for the body to sleep is darkness. If there is a bright light source (the monitor), the chances of melatonin secretion is low.”
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Human Growth Hormone in the form of Injectable HGH can help with Sleep and Insomnia
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