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, 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': 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 ).
- 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.
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, done that ).
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 Epworth Sleepiness Test below.
Interpretation: Score of 0-9 is considered normal while 10 and above abnormal. Many a times, I have clocked 21 out the maximum possible 24, the only saving grace being the last situation, since I don’t like to drive ( maybe, I should ask my driver to answer that line).