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Obese? Diabetic? It could all be due to lack of sleep

HYDERABAD/VISAKHAPATNAM: In the pursuit of a good life or better salary, some like to wear sleep starvation as a badge of honour. However, what they fail to fathom are the disastrous consequences: diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

These lifestyle diseases are seen across cities like Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam and are common to those skipping a minimum of six hours of sleep. Such people often end up obese or diabetic or suffer from other disorders such as sleep deprivation, stress-induced insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome (OSA), say experts.

Not surprisingly, nearly 300 patients fl ock to the 35 sleep diagnostic centres in Hyderabad every month. Of these, at least 15 per cent are from the IT industry or the corporate sector. Data obtained from studies conducted at these centres reveal that 40-45% of these patients also suffer from obesity, 15-20% are diabetic and 15% have hypertension.

“The 24×7 life affects the circadian rhythm through exposure to artifi cial light after sunset, resulting in reduced total sleep time and consumption of untimely food. Over time, such employees tend to become obese and insulin-resistant, a condition where the insulin produced in the body is not used effectively, leading to type 2 diabetes,” said Dr T Lakshmi Kanth, bariatric surgeon at KIMS Hospital.

In fact, two recent international studies have linked diabetes and obesity to sleep disorders. In one study, presented at ENDO-2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego, researchers concluded that for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep deprivation, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance increases by 17% and 39% respectively.

In the second study by a team of researchers in University of Chicago Medical Center, they linked sleep deprivation to pre-diabetic conditions in healthy young men. The fi ndings were published in the February edition of the journal Diabetologia.

Experts such as Dr KD Modi, endocrinologist, Care Hospital, Nampally, said that if doctors start checking the background history of their diabetic patients, the number of people diagnosed with sleep disorder would go up to 70-80%. “Previously, there was little or no awareness about the relationship between diabetes and sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA),” he said.

In Visakhapatnam, Dr GVS Murty, consultant psychiatrist and president of Visakhapatnam Psychiatric Society, emphasized how doctors come across patients working in the IT, BPO or corporate sectors that require night shifts suffering from various ailments such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, memory loss, anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

“It also leads to obesity by causing more hunger and inactivity. Obesity, in turn, causes several other ailments. In fact, the basic cause for anxiety and depression is sleeplessness. The biological clock gets reversed and day time sleep can never compensate for the seven-eight hours of undisturbed night sleep,” said Murty. He added that with more corporate fi rms coming up in the region, there is need for more sleep clinics in the city.

Varsha Ramnath (name changed), a corporate employee said, “After working for four years in a BPO, I faced severe sleep disturbances. I would end up eating junk food at odd times and kept putting on weight. It also made me depressive and finally I had to visit a psychologist for help. I find many of my colleagues are facing the same sleep and stress-related ailments as well as vision problems and backache.”

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