The Importance of Sleep

By Dr Vijay Chandraraj

As a general practitioner I see over a hundred patients every week. I often ask my patients how many hours of sleep they get and it’s shocking how few even manage seven hours. What is interesting is that of the many who only manage six or less hours per night, almost all of them accept this as normal for them and have done so for many years.

Our lifestyles have continued to become more pressured with the life admin (paying bills, renewing insurance, organising paperwork for cpd at work).

Research now reveals that as humans, we need eight hours of sleep at night. Surprisingly, this remains true even as we live into our later years. As we get older we tend to sleep less well and as a result we accumulate more ill health and simply accept these symptoms as normal and blame our age. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, poor immune function and even cancer are associated with insufficient sleep. These conditions may take several years to develop but getting less than eight hours a night can have more immediate effects.

Insufficient sleep rapidly deteriorates our ability to concentrate.  Our bodies force us to have microsleeps (these are short lapses in concentration lasting only a few seconds). Researchers have found that even getting six hours of sleep a night leads to an increasing sleep dept. Within a short time, this total sleep dept builds up to equal one full night’s sleep. At this point the person’s performance will be impaired to the same level as that of a person who has missed a whole night’s sleep altogether. Particularly worrying is the finding that we all lack insight of just how impaired our performance is when we are sleep deprived.

If you are having issues with sleep, why not arrange a Discovery Call with one of the Doctors to explore your options.

(N.B. article first appeared in The Bury Magazine.)