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How Dangerous is My Lack of Sleep?

IF YOU’RE LOSING SLEEP COUNTING SHEEP, IT’S BETTER TO CALL THE DOCTOR.

Obviously, you could fall asleep driving a vehicle or operating machinery, and that makes your sleep deprivation very dangerous indeed. Nonetheless, researchers have shown that poor quality of sleep can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and other chronic diseases.

A recent study, published in the online edition of Neurology, concluded that sleep difficulties might be linked to faster rates of decline in brain volume. While it remains to be said whether improving sleeping habits can improve brain health, many studies have confirmed that a good night’s snooze is critical to maintaining your good condition. And researchers have proposed sleep to be “the brain’s housekeeper” – serving to repair and restore the noggin’.

 

GET QUALITY SHUT-EYE

It’s important to seek treatment for a sleep illness and aim for seven to nine hours of snooze each night in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A study published the Journal Of Clinical Sleep Medicine examined the link between obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and mortality in Asians, and found that all cause mortality risk was 2½ times higher – cardiovascular mortality risk was more than four times higher – among people with severe OSA.

Interestingly, a separate study published in the same issue of the journal showed both “short sleep duration” (five hours or less per night) and “long sleep duration” (nine hours or more) to be linked to poor health. In other words, set that alarm.

 

SLEEP DRUNKENNESS

There’s a 15 per cent chance that you might suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep drunkenness, reveals a new study of over 19,000 people, published in Neurology. More common than previously thought, this little-understood condition causes people to wake up in a confused state.

It could cause inappropriate behaviour such as answering the phone instead of turning off the alarm – and in some cases lead to a person striking a bedmate. Most people can’t remember the incident afterwards.

Treatment hinges on treating other sleep problems patients have, noted lead researcher Dr Maurice Ohayon, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine. People with sleep apnoea and those getting less than six hours of sleep per night were more likely to have the disorder.

 

MEMORY ERROR

The lack of shut-eye can also hurt your ability to remember things, found a study in the journal Psychological Science. Participants deprived of snooze were more likely to flub details of a simulated burglary shown to them in a series of images.

“People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion,” noted Kimberly Fenn, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University and co-investigator of the study. “And people are getting less sleep each night than they ever have.”

 

By Kenneth Wee, Men’s Health, November 2014 

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