Sleep is a Necessity Not a Luxury

I was following a disciplined routine until I was 18 where I use to sleep at 10 in the night & wake up by 6 in the morning…

This all changed when my passion to hack my newly brought Pentium100 during 1998… Buying a system was still a luxury… I use to work the whole night…

Then by 1999 I got internet connection at home & by this time my routine started to collapse… My sleeping hours started to shrink…

By 2000 I started my company and by now my working hours increased to 16 – 18 hours a day… My sleeping hours were between 2 – 3 hours a day… This is the number of hours I slept until 2009… I took pride in telling that I just slept for 2 – 3 hours a day…

But lack of sleep for almost a decade started to take its toll on my health…

For last 2 months I suffered from severe back pain because Muscle Spasm(Muscle Catch)… I was told it is mainly because of lack of sleep…

I was asked to do some stretch exercise & to sleep a lot… For last 2 weeks I’m sleeping for 8 – 10 hours a day… Now I don’t feel any pain in my back…

Today I drove to Bangalore & still feeling comfortable…

Now it is too late I realize the importance of sleep… These are some effects of sleep deprivation on me;

  • Severe indigestion
  • High Body Heat
  • Eye power increase & eye pain
  • Muscle Catch
  • Over eating

I’m struggling to bring in some discipline in my working hours & start taking care of my health as I’m not getting younger…


Sleep delayed the day

It was a drowsy start for the day. Had slept early to wake-up early for the Board Meeting. As usual got-up mid night and was in no mood to work and my brain was full time thinking about the ways to improve the productivity in the organization and ways to improve the sales.

By the time it was early in the morning and I thought i need a short nap to stay fresh for the meeting. But I slept long that I got up only by 11:15 AM & the meeting was by 11 AM… Other two directors made up on time and I had to call them and I made it to meeting by 12:30 noon with a awkward smile. My other directors were lenient enough to forgive me.

Then we started the meeting and we had effective meetings and many decisions were taken. Now it is time to work on the decisions and implement them quickly.

After the meeting it was time to call everyone who kept calling me form the morning.  After that decided to go for a Video Blog which i was planning to do it for long time. I pinged my fellow CEO at Contus Support Interactive & he was generous enough to install the plugin immediately. For now i don’t have time to test it. Probably I might do it from tomorrow.

Now it is time to get back home, pack my bags and proceed to board my bus as there is only 2 hours left from now.

Wish me Happy Journey!!!!!

Sleeping in the car

We reached Yelagiri hills by 3.45 AM and we cornered the car on a busy street. Life here got started by 4 and lots of people & vehicle movement started to increase and nothing disturbed us. But an old man woke Kavi asking if we want any room or guide.

From then Kavi didn’t allow us to sleep from then on and this is how we slept.

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 alone .

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).

The Evidence

Last week, I was interacting with a well-known cardiologist on a talk about ?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, done that L)

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.

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 J)

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 forward this mail to 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.