Lack of Sleep is a Health Hazard

Since research has become a very important factor in the prevention of ill-health, people in general are living longer and maintaining a more active life than ever before.

It is incredible that scientists have discovered that just one night of sleep deprivation is enough to cause strain on the heart, forcing it to work around 10% harder the next day, a study has found.

People who work in fire and emergency medical services and other high-stress jobs are often called upon to work twenty-four-hour shifts with little opportunity to sleep.

While it is known that extreme fatigue can affect many physical cognitive and emotional processes, the study is the first to examine how working a twenty-four-hour  shift affects heart function.

‘For the first time we have shown that short-term sleep deprivation in the context of twenty-four-hour shifts can lead to a significant increase in cardiac contractility, blood pressure and heart rate,’ said Dr Daniel Kuetting, the author of the study from the University of Bonn in Germany.

For the study, twenty healthy radiologists, including nineteen men and one woman, with a mean age of 31.6 years, were recruited and their hearts checked before and after a twenty-four-hour shift with an average of three hours of sleep.

Following sleep deprivation the participants showed significant increases in the strain on the heart, with the organ having to work around 10% harder than usual.

‘As people continue to work longer hours or work at more than one job to make ends meet, it is critical to investigate the detrimental effects of too much work and not enough sleep,’ said Dr Kuetting.

Since the unexpected death of my wife last February, sleep has become rather difficult. I toss and turn endlessly in order to induce an hour or two of sleep but then wake up rather tired and unable to go to sleep again. Nights become a nightmare in general and I dread the notion of going to bed, unless I feel exhausted and even then a good night’s sleep without interruption is not easy to achieve.

This study will certainly alert me to the danger of not sleeping enough and alert others who read my blog, to the importance of ensuring a good night’s sleep. Bravado in claiming to sleep less hours, rather than remain in a full cognitive state, is no longer on my agenda.



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