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* Shortage of sleep and heart disease

This is an article forwarded by a friend. He is not sure of  its author.

What killed Ranjan Das and Lessons for Corporate India

A month ago, many of us heard about the sad demise of Ranjan Das from Bandra, Mumbai. Ranjan, just 42 years of age, was the CEO of SAP-Indian Subcontinent, the youngest CEO of an MNC in India. He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. It was common to see him run on Bandra’s Carter Road. Just after Diwali, on 21st Oct, he returned home from his gym after a workout, collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids. It was certainly a wake-up call for corporate India. However, it was even more disastrous for runners amongst us. Since Ranjan was an avid marathoner (in Feb 09, he ran Chennai Marathon at the same time some of us were running Pondicherry Marathon 180 km away), the question came as to why an exceptionally active, athletic person succumb to heart attack at 42 years of age. Was it the stress? A couple of you called me asking about the reasons. While Ranjan had mentioned that he faced a lot of stress, that is a common element in most of our lives. We used to think that by being fit, one can conquer the bad effects of stress. So I doubted if the cause was stress. The real reason however is … everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to make do with 4-5 hours of sleep. This is an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program ‘Boss’ Day Out’:

http://connect.in.com/ranjan-das/play-video-boss-day-out-ranjan-das-of-sap-india-229111-807ec fcf1ad966036c289b3ba6c376f2530d7484.html

Here he himself admits that he would love to get more sleep and that he was not proud of his ability to manage without sleep, contrary to what others extolled.

The evidence last week:
I was working with a well-known cardiologist on the subject of ‘Heart Disease caused by Lack of Sleep’. While I cannot share the video nor the slides because of confidentiality reasons, I have distilled the key points below in the hope it will save some of our lives.

Some excerpts …..

  • Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009.
  • As you know, high BP kills. .. Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006. ..
  • Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999. ..
  • Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high!! .. Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They increase risks of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Paper published in 2004. ..
  • Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper published in 2006.

Ideal sleep for lack of space, I cannot explain here the ideal sleep architecture. But in brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. During the night, you alternate between REM and non-REM stages 4-5 times. The earlier part of sleep is mostly non-REM. During that period, your pituitary gland releases growth hormones that repair your body. The latter part of sleep is more and more REM type. For you to be mentally alert during the day, the latter part of sleep is more important. No wonder when you wake up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, you are mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep). And if you have slept for less than 5 hours, your body is in a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), you are tired throughout the day, moving like a zombie and your immunity is way down (I’ve been there, down that lane)

Finally, as long-distance runners, you need an hour of extra sleep to repair the running related damage. If you want to know if you are getting adequate sleep, take the Epworth Sleepiness Test below. Use this form from Stanford University.

=================================================================

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling  just tired? This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Even if you have not done some of these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you. Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:

0 = no chance of dozing

1 = slight chance of dozing

2 = moderate chance of dozing

3 = high chance of dozing

SITUATION                      CHANCE OF DOZING

Sitting and reading____________

Watching TV ____________

Sitting inactive in a public place (e.g a theater or a meeting) ____________

As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break ____________

Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit ____________

Sitting and talking to someone ____________

Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol ____________

In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic ____________

Interpretation: Score of 0-9 is considered normal while 10 and above abnormal.

================================================================

In conclusion Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising (marathoning!), maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. In my opinion, that killed him.

If you are not getting enough sleep (7 hours), you are playing with fire, even if you have low stress. I always took pride in my ability to work 50 hours at a stretch whenever the situation warranted. But I was so spooked after seeing the scientific evidence last week that since Saturday night, I ensure I do not even set the alarm clock under 7 hours. Now, that is a nice excuse to get some more sleep.

Unfortunately, Ranjan Das is not alone when it comes to missing sleep. Many of us are doing exactly the same, perhaps out of ignorance. Please share this article with as many of your colleagues as possible, especially those who might be short-changing their sleep. If we can save even one young life because of this email, I would be the happiest person on earth.

PS: Incidentally, just as human beings need 7 hours of sleep, you should know that cats need 15 hours of sleep and horses need 3 hours of it. So are you planning to be a cool cat or a dumb horse?

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Related pages
How can I Enjoy Quality Sleep?
Secrets of a “Great Night’s Sleep”
Relief from insomnia – Success stories

* Focus on the Message or the Messenger?

We see this situation often. Consider these scenarios.

  • A sufi teacher (1)  was pointing his crooked index finger, bent due to arthritis, at the moon. He was asking his student to look at the beautiful full moon in the sky. The student was focusing on the crooked index finger. He could not see the moon as he could not detach his attention from the finger. The communication between them was a total failure. Who is responsible? Who is the loser?
  • I receive a partially damaged and dirty envelope from the tax department. I feel like throwing it in the trash bin. But then….What if it is a notice of an audit of my tax return? Or it has a check for the tax refund? Should I ignore the dirty condition of the envelope and open it, pull out the letter and then toss the envelope in the trash bin?
  • I parked my car crossing the dividing line between the two parking spots, close to the entrance of a famous temple and went inside with my family. The adjacent parking space was wasted, as it was risky for any one to park in that narrow space. That being a week end, there were many visitors and the parking was very tight.  When I returned after the worship, I found a paper under the wiper of the wind shield with the pungent message “Stupid! Don’t you know how to park?” I felt very bad. Should I curse the hot blooded person, may be a youngster, for his crude message? Should I regret my negligent parking, depriving another devotee of a convenient parking space? Should I etch this incident in my mind and not repeat the parking negligence any time in future? Should I thank the youngster for teaching me an important lesson that I definitely needed, though in a crude manner? Could I have realized my inappropriate action affecting other people on my own, if I did not get that crude message,from whoever it may be?

(1) Sufism is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a Sufī.

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Parent page: Articles on ‘Relationships’

* Feedback from the seminar at the ‘Hope Club’ of the American Cancer Society’s the Capital Region

This seminar was attended by 7 women and one man. The one hour seminar was curtailed to 45 minutes, as I reached the venue late, due to an accident to another car on the road. Feedback could be collected from 7 participants as one person left earlier.

The seminar was …..

  • Excellent – 5
  • Very good – 2

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)………….

  • Sleeplessness, anxiety and stress level
  • Insomnia, Arthritis
  • Insomnia
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Asthma, Insomnia
  • Asthma, Arthritis
  • Sleep

Comments/ Suggestions about the class (if any)……….

  • Very informative
  • Very clearly explained
  • Excellent presentation. I would like to have more sessions on breathing.
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* ‘Focusing on breathing’ helping three generations

Here is a wonderful feedback from a woman narrating how this simple technique is helping her, her daughter and her mom, all three generations

“Well I guess I should start out by saying that I am a 31 year old single mother that needed a little assistance with some unneeded stress in my life. Being a mother of two has been a wonderful, trying experience. I work full time and had a part time job to make ends meet. I was first introduced to the breathing (1) by my co-worker C S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada). I’m a very open minded person so I was willing to try anything to reduce the production of any grey hairs. On top of me being a full time mom and employee, I also had other added issues that needed to be attended too.  I have arthritis in my lower back which causes me a lot of pain.  I started the breathing mainly for this reason.  I would start breathing at night before I would fall asleep.   I noticed it didn’t take me more than 5 mins to pass out. I was able to clear my head and focus on sleeping instead of the 15 million different things I had to accomplish the next day or week. As I continued to do the breathing and speaking with C S, I was able to then use the breathing other times for many different things. I use it for when I’m stressed out and going through difficult situations.  I can see a difference with my attitude and how I carry myself and just how I feel. It’s been very uplifting for me so far………so I decided to share with my children and with my mother.

I have two children who are 12 and 8 years of age. The breathing didn’t go over so well with my 12 year old due to the fact that she isn’t that open minded and set in her ways. Now my 8 year old definitely needed the breathing. She was having problems in school with friends and her attitude along with taking instruction from her elders.  I started the breathing with her before she would fall sleep. She first found it to be a game that would buy her a little quality time with mom plus allowed her to stay up longer. After about a month of doing it together she would take it upon herself to do it alone. I could see the change in her attitude when she woke up and with her attitude in school. It was nice for a change, to receive positive reports from her teachers, instead of the usual negative ones. As time went on, I would catch her midway into the breathing and she must have fallen asleep before she got done counting the breaths.  I’d catch her with her finger stuck at a segment. She is also doing much better now with her relationship with her sister. They haven’t stopped fighting totally but the arguing has calmed down a lot.  She just is much more pleasant and fun to be around. The progress still continues……

On to my mother. My mother has many different health issues. Some that she has brought upon herself and the others she has developed.  For many years of living in the same house, she just always seemed to be very tense and unhappy. Plus she is a heavy smoker that smokes 4 packs of cigarettes a day.  I told my mother about the breathing and I also mailed her some flyers. She didn’t really believe that it would have an effect on her.  She put it off for a while until one day that she had to face a tough issue head on. She would call me up on a daily basis to inform me that she tried the breathing and she felt like a new person when she got up in the morning. From then on, she was doing it on her own. She realized that she could also use it with her daily lifestyle as well. This made a world of a difference. My mother always had a short fuse. My father has even given me his input. He called me thanking me for sharing this technique with my mother because she was so much nicer and easier to get along with now.  When we do spend time with my parents, I noticed it myself. She isn’t so quick to jump to conclusions and start yelling.  She still hasn’t tried to change her smoking habits but this is a bridge that I’m still trying to cross with her.  She at least listens to me talk about stopping smoking and how the breathing would help but she isn’t quite ready for that big step yet. I will continue to encourage the breathing for my family and friends. I figure if it worked for me then it can work for anyone………”

(1) How can I focus on breathing?

Related pages
Training children in ‘Focusing on breathing’
How to quit smoking by ‘Focusing on breathing’

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