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Sleeping late doesn’t mean you are lazy!

July 16, 2008

In India rising early is a virtue. And sleeping late is considered sloth. Even though now we know that there is no such thing as too much sleep or unnecessary sleep, these attitudes persist. Even though now we know that sleeping isn’t like eating. Our appetite for sleep doesn’t grow as we take in more and more. If we sleep, it means we need it.

But even though science has now proven it, our sleeping habits are getting worse. High pressures at school and at work, the advent of the internet, long hours of commuting, increased travel, as well as the idiot box have all ensured that we keep awake well beyond our tolerance levels.

In India students have it bad. An unreasonable academic load from primary school plus the pressure of a society which believes in rising early. And ofcourse, the pressures of a new lifestyle of chat rooms and the internet that adolescents face.

I was not at all surprised to read about survey that showed that Indian students are getting less sleep as compared to their counterparts in Caucasian countries. I see it everywhere around me, and I also see people congratulating themselves for getting less sleep!

Problems you can get if you sleep less [The following information has been condensed from the following sources: (1), (2), (3), (4) ]

Fatigue, lack of mental alertness and concentration, confusion, poorer judgment, impatience and irritability. Increased likelihood of depression, moodiness and bad temper.

Serious physical symptoms can include aching muscles, blurred vision, dark circles under the eyes, headaches, dizziness, nausea, slowed reaction time, sore throat stuffy nose, Increased likelihood of , Microsleep (brief periods of involuntary sleeping that range from a few seconds to a few minutes in duration).

But there’s more! Chronic lack of sleep can do serious damage. It can lead to a weakened immune system, hallucinations (visual and auditory), hand tremors, hyperactivity, weight loss or gain and even contribute to serious health problems like hypertension, psychosis, attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, alcoholism and increase the risk of major illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity!

But why should such serious diseases be linked to a lack of sleep? Here’s why:

A sleep deficit is thought to put the body into a state of high alert, increasing the production of stress hormones and driving up blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, people who are sleep-deprived have elevated levels of substances in the blood that indicate a heightened state of inflammation in the body, which has also recently emerged as a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes… even mild sleep deprivation quickly disrupts normal levels of the recently discovered hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite. That fits with the theory that humans may be genetically wired to be awake at night only when they need to be searching for food or fending off danger — circumstances when they would need to eat to have enough energy.
In addition, studies show sleep-deprived people tend to develop problems regulating their blood sugar, which may put them at increased risk for diabetes.

How much sleep is needed?
Children: 10-12 hours a night
Adolescents: At least 9 hours
Adults: 7.5 to 8 hours, plus or minus an hour. Requirements can decrease as people go past middle-age. Depends on the individual.

If you…

  • yawn often
  • have a tendency to doze off when not active for a while
  • find it difficult to wake up
  • are groggy when you do

…then you could be sleep-deprived!
Time to re-think that schedule then.

Related Reading: Coaching classes creating havoc in a student’s life
Eleven reasons why Indians are not healthy

34 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2008 10:08 am

    Yipppie yay, at last someone said it. Now I am going to print this post and send it to my parents, uncles, teachers and many ‘girl’ friends who always call me lazy.

    Good information Nita, yawn! Have a nice day🙂

  2. July 16, 2008 10:47 am

    I am sleep deprived though so far I have no more symptoms than that I am tired too soon at end of day (and also dark circles around my eyes). I do have about 6-7 hours of sleep. I saw my doctor, she says every body has different sleeping needs. My body needs at least 8 or more hours of sleep. Sh said some may manage well with even 5 hours of sleep but not me. This concept of sleep required by body most folks wont understand. My family too was surprised.

  3. July 16, 2008 10:58 am

    Suda,🙂

    Poonam, a lot of people believe 5 hours is enough, including docs and its sad! I personally find it difficult to believe that anyone under 50 years of age can manage well with 5 hours of sleep, and science is on my side! Even after 50, 5 hours is not the norm. Maybe after 65-70- it is. But even the 70 years olds I know take naps in the day-time and therefore can manage to sleep just 4-5 hours a night.
    In any case, I know some people who think they are managing well, but their fewer hours are more due to long habit and social conditioning, but symptoms of chronic lack of sleep are showing up as they invariably do in the long term.
    People who deprive themselves of sleep usually find it easy to doze off for 10-15 minutes in the daytime but if you have had enough sleep you can’t do that. Actually many people who say they sleep 4-5 hours have a habit of taking tiny naps.
    Poonam, if you are sleep deprived, the symptoms may take several years to show. You are still young after all and you can push your body to its limits.

  4. July 16, 2008 11:55 am

    thats an interesting post..
    advent of internet (that too high speed )has sure affected..
    take my case ..i hardly sleep before 2 but yeah i make sure i dont get up before 10-11 ..
    but then i am in home wothout any wokr so i could afford so once i start working its going to be quite difficult..

    and about pressure …its quite true..
    school students these days work too hard they study till midnight and wake up early ..and end up wasting all day yawning in the school.I used to do it when i was in 12th ..:P
    thought i wont say i used to study midnight😀

  5. Aditi permalink
    July 16, 2008 1:49 pm

    Very interesting post Nita.
    I’ve always known sleep was most important, at some level.

    The most i’ve gone without sleep is 48 hrs (yes i’m proud of it) and i suffered from mild hallucinations such as coloured flashes before i realized i should probably get some sleep.
    I know some ppl who have done 36 hrs without a wink. I haven’t tried that. ^__^
    Of course now i have changed my work habits and i’m on the much healthier 8 hr sleep cycle. Its much better.

  6. July 16, 2008 2:42 pm

    Going to sleep late night is ok. If anyone gets up late after sunrise, he/she is lazy. We have to live with nature. Iam 52 and I sleep 4 hours at night and 1 to 2 hours in the day. I always get up with sunrise.

  7. July 16, 2008 3:17 pm

    Thant is a nice post, Nita🙂
    I love to sleep enough and try to catch on when I miss it a bit. Normally I try not to.

    There are some other things about sleep like:

    -people who do not sleep enough, put on weight!
    -sleep makes beautiful🙂

    Another aspect is waking up late.
    I once wrote a post on the B-Society, it may be intresting also for the readers of your post:

    Denmark’s B-Society was found in order to advocates the rights of ” B-people” who are sluggish and bed-bound first thing, but whose energy spikes in the evening.
    Every individual has their own biological rhythm (known as the “Circadian rhythm”), which means we have our very own sense of time and planning of time. There are lots of different kinds of circadian rhythms. Most people are B-persons,which means that their circadian rhythm has a cycle that runs through 25 hours or more. Science has shown that our biological rhythms through “a day” (i.e. “Nychthemeron” = “a day and a night) are regulated by a so-called “clock gene”.

    http://1000petals.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/are-you-a-b-person/

    thanks!🙂

  8. July 16, 2008 3:20 pm

    thats nice to hear, because i love sleeping and i’m a person who need to sleep quite a lot, I use to sleep about 7-8 hours a day, but i think i’d need about 9-10, ‘cos its always hard for me to wake up even sleeping 7-8 h. …
    i’m at work now…so time to yaaaaaaawnnnnn…hahahahaha…
    *kisses*

  9. July 16, 2008 3:46 pm

    Arvind, the internet is a great temptation and like you I am addicted.😦 Throws the schedule haywire because in the mornigns I am often like a zombie even though I don’t stay up that late at night, except occasionally.

    Aditi, I have never even tried to stay awake that long and luckily have not had the need to. I prefer postponing what I have to do till the next day!

    Old Sailor, you are one of the lucky few who can manage with less sleep!

    Axinia, that beauty sleep aspect is a very important point! I am quite convinced that those people who sleep less look old much earlier than others. I have never sacrificed my beauty sleep and I guess thats why I look young for my age! What you said about biological rythms is so true! Its a fact that each one of us is different. Some people peak later in the day but some in the morning. But Indian society is such where getting up early in the morning is considered very important.

    Francina, I too love to sleep! Luckily before marriage I was part of a family where sleeping late was not considered big deal but in many families sleeping late is sinful!
    When I was 18-19 I used to need a lot of sleep and I think its something to do with the fact that I was what they call a type A personality. High metabolism, always on the go, never a moment’s rest and no naps. In fact I used to be rushing from here to there most of the time, doing a hundred things at the same time! I haven’t changed much🙂 but I need less sleep thankfully.

  10. July 16, 2008 4:29 pm

    Good post, I really get groggy and confused if I don’t sleep adequately. I have been made to feel bad for that all my life. Though now I don’t need as much sleep as I needed 10 years back, still I need to sleep 8 hours, and waking up too early makes me sick. In fact I feel I have been deprived of a good deal of sleep by the education system.
    http://gildedchain.blogspot.com/2007/10/why-am-i-so-brainy.html
    I don’t know why people automatically associate children who sleep less with sincerity and diligence. They don’t understand that some kids (and grown ups) NEED that sleep.

  11. July 16, 2008 4:40 pm

    well, i’m sure also when u have kids…
    u just can’t sleep as much as u would like to…
    I think I’m not an A type person but
    what is sure is that i need to sleeep a looooot!
    and thats great! I love ittttttt !🙂
    have a nice day, Nita!
    muak!

  12. July 16, 2008 4:42 pm

    ya ya ya i am sleep deprived….Actually i am in a half-wake state for most of the day….i think sleeplessness is my drug to thinking of stuff which others dont think(so it is at last out lol😉 )
    Infact after the blogging round i am going to take a nap before studying for tmros exam🙂

  13. July 16, 2008 6:48 pm

    I am sleepy all the time… I sleep for like 9 hours a day, work for the remaining 15… Maybe that’s why…. Sleep is quite essential to process information at work, too… Sometimes, I catch myself stifling a yawn in a meeting…😀

  14. July 16, 2008 6:54 pm

    I always sleep late and am not an early riser. I follow what Protima Bedi said in her book. Her father like most Indian fathers used to tell her -early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy wealthy and wise. She said all the rich people she knew slept very late and never woke up early🙂 The not so rich people are forced to wake up early thus the wealthy part in the above saying cannot be true. I am sure people who wake up early are healthier than the late risers.

  15. Ravi permalink
    July 16, 2008 7:50 pm

    Im not a night owl but I do sleep late sometimes due to internet and other obligations🙂 Whenever I sleep late like 2am on the next day I would be drowzy and cant really concentrate like I usually do. When I was in college I tend to sleep regular as any other day cause lack of sleep makes me stressful due to which I might end up forget all the things I remembered for the test. Could you believe that I never night out in preparatino for any test simply cause I dont believe in it🙂

    I think 6 hours would be enough for an adult if he/she doesnt smoke, drink and excercise regularly. On weekends I sleep for 9 hours on weekdays between 6 and 8 hrs. I hate that feeling with neck and body paints you have when u wake up late ..Huhhh!..

    Rich people do wake up early. It important to mention whether its rich kids or rich parents🙂

  16. July 16, 2008 7:55 pm

    As a kid I had a strict deadline to go to bed, since both my parents worked and they had to wake up early, they did not entertain any late night activity, and lights used to be switched off by 9 pm, I had the habit to go to bed by 8:30 and maximum 9 till my tenth grade, and I carry the habit even now, I generally prefer to goto bed by 10, even though my wakeup time has remained fix at 6am.. so I think it all depends on what we really want, if we want to a student can definitely find time to sleep

  17. July 16, 2008 8:19 pm

    Everyone has a different need for their body be it food or sleep!! But sadly some people dont seem to understand that. I can wake up till 3am but I need to sleep late in morn, even if i go to sleep at 10 am. I just feel dull all day if i get up early. My poor mom being an early riser still hopes that someday her daughters will follow early to bed and early to rise😀😀

  18. July 16, 2008 8:54 pm

    Insightful article. I always make sure I sleep 8 hours a day atleast, otherwise I cannot concentrate on my work next day. I hope a lot more people can follow this regime and lead a healthier life.

  19. July 16, 2008 9:15 pm

    Nomad, I agree, this societal bias has to go! Its specially hard on kids because they needs loads of sleep!

    Francina, yeah when my kids were small, I was forever in a sleep debt. Now I can play catchup more easily.

    Vishesh that scary!🙂

    Nikhil, some people need more sleep, but I am not sure why. Maybe its something to do with metabolism, not sure.

    Prerna, When I was growing up, we all got up and did our thing and sleep timings were never talked about. But the responsibility that each person had was important, that could become an issue. However I soon realised that society was different! Many people makes a huge fuss about getting up early. I am always flummoxed because in our family no one ever got up very late or very early! I think the reason was that it didn’t matter!

    Ravi, a young person under 30 needing 6 hours is unusual. I don’t think its normal however disciplined and clean a life you lead.

    Rambler, its a great habit you have! I had this same habit but of late (blogging!) my sleep timings have changed. My husband really cribs because now he goes to bed and I am at the pc! I know this can’t go on, I need to try and cut down on blogging as I am not getting enough sleep.

    Reema, I don’t know why people want to apply the same rule for all! I think the fact that the amount of sleep that a person needs varies with a person needs to be adequately known!

    Dinesh Babu, they say that the sleep we get before 2 a..m is supposed to be really good sleep for our bodies and I guess that is why we feel so refreshed when we sleep early.

  20. wishtobeanon permalink
    July 16, 2008 9:26 pm

    This is another topic close to my heart. I need more than 6 hours of sleep and I feel tired and sleepy by 7:00 pm if I don’t get it. I almost come to the point of nagging when it comes to sleep for my kids. I want them in bed by 8:00 pm so that when they wake up at 6:30 or 7:00, they are not too tired. But usuallly, they end up sleeping late and so they have to take naps in the afternoon. This time schedule will be very difficult to follow in India because of a lack of privacy, noise, light etc. I guess this is another bit of info that needs to be driven into people’s minds that sleep is a very important factor for health.

  21. snippetsnscribbles permalink
    July 16, 2008 10:24 pm

    YAY! This is some good news to me!! I second Suda on this one….and shall pass on this information to everyone that thinks otherwise about waking up late !!! Hmph!!

    Getting up early is the first yardstick inlaws’ and people-connected-to-inlaws-and-have-no-other-work-other-than-gossipping use to decide about how “good” the DIL is !!! What she otherwise does is not counted at all, sadly.

  22. July 16, 2008 10:37 pm

    Nita I have also read somewhere and heard from my wife that is essential to sleep well at night for good digestion. When we sleep at night, that is when the digestive system is relaxed and most active and completes digesting what we had during the day. So, when we have dinner we shouldnt be having anything that can stress us like too much spice or drinks that are too cold or alcohol. Alcohol also in a way is a sleep killer, it would give us disturbed sleep.

  23. uNbReAkAbLe permalink
    July 17, 2008 12:09 am

    well …its good to know that sleeping more than others isn’t a part of being lazy…but not many people in India at least wouldn’t want to believe it….a person who works harder than others needs more sleep that others..

  24. July 17, 2008 12:57 am

    Whoa, thank you, that was a rude awakening.

  25. July 17, 2008 7:28 am

    Late risers like me can feel less guilty now, no😉

    I was raised to wake up early in the typical desi style. Interestingly, my mom (the Southie) firmly believes in the early-to-bed-early-to-rise theory, while my dad (the typical Bong) is more laid back.

    But school made sure that we were up and about early.

    Over the years — chiefly due to my work schedule — my habits changed.
    But I have been switching styles on and off depending on life’s demands. Currently — with a partner who abhors waking early — I am in the sleep-as-long-as-you-need phase😉 My husband says I am making up now for my sleep-deprived childhood ;D

    However, I do feel I achieve a whole lot more with the early-to-bed-early-to-rise routine. Not happening right now, though😉

    Nita, I have a friend who sleeps four hours a day (like Old Sailor) and thinks sleeping is a complete waste of time!

    God! Sometimes I wish I was like him. Imagine how much we could accomplish!

    Nice post😀

  26. July 17, 2008 12:09 pm

    I require minimum 8hrs of sleep to charge my batteries, and 10hrs to charge things other than my batteries and I have been sleeping like this through out my childhood, so people around have got used to it.

    Sleeping for longer hrs doesn’t mean I wake up late, I wake up in time. But somehow I have to average out 10hrs per day.

  27. July 17, 2008 2:35 pm

    wishtobeanon, true in India there is a lack of privacy and it needs getting used to. But it depends where you are living in India. I mean ever where things like sound light etc is concerned. You can always get your dream house here and as you are NRI, I am sure will be able to afford it!🙂

    snippetsnscribbles, yardstick is the word! I wonder how people can evaluate a person’s productivity by what time the person wakes up! The truth is that they don’t like the modern lifestyle! It will take the older generation some time to accept it.

    Dinesh Babu, ofcourse a good nights rest is required for good digestion. In fact they say that immediately after eating one shouldn’t move around too much as one needs to give the tummy muscles the chance to do their job!

    uNbReAkAbLe, ur right! no one wants to let go the belief they’ve had for years, and when it comes to accepting modern lifestyles, there is a strong disapproval in many quarters. About who needs more sleep, I too wonder about this, and I think it must be due to metabolism, but I think enough research has not been done in this area.

    Javits,🙂

    Snigdha, thanks. Well, if human beings didn’t require any sleep at all or just a few hours, then certainly we would accomplish much!
    My husband btw has been brought up with the belief that one should rise early and due to years of habit he finds it difficult to sleep after 6 a.m. However he gets his 7 hours, by sleeping on time and if necessary, making it up on weekends.

    Anshul, I needed at least 10 hours sleep until I was about 25, but the need started to decrease slowly. By the age of 30 I was sleeping for about 9 hours and now its about 8 hours.

  28. July 18, 2008 12:46 am

    im more of a night person and this post is real detailed
    i knew bits and parts but this is great work
    will sleep more yawn !
    goodnight 🙂

    I always knew you were a night person, from the time of your comments!🙂 – Nita.

  29. Manoj permalink
    July 18, 2008 1:42 am

    Such a useful post, Nita! It makes us think about our own schedules everyday. Guess what, I was yawning every now and then and also was dozing off during inactivity yesterday when I read this post. I left office early and had a good 10 hours of sleep. I feel so fresh today. 🙂

    Manoj.🙂 – Nita.

  30. lallopallo permalink
    July 18, 2008 6:12 am

    I have known this since quite some time that sleeping till late doesnt mean we are lazy, yet, there is an unexplained guilt associated with waking up late. I mean atleast for me, I always feel guilty if I sleep till later than 9 am , unless I have worked very hard last night and slept at 3 am. But, nevertheless, quite often I end up sleeping till quite late..hence, I feel guilty every other day..

    Unexplained guilt is what many carry! And if you are sleeping late even if you had and early night, it means you have a sleep debt! Sleep on!🙂 – Nita

  31. July 19, 2008 8:56 am

    Lazy Nita,
    Damn, I am ignoring this post and deliberately sweeping the facts under the carpet because I sleep six hours and call everyone else lazy …. LOL

    Ohh! You are one of those!🙄 – Nita.

  32. wishtobeanon permalink
    July 21, 2008 7:23 pm

    “You can always get your dream house here and as you are NRI, I am sure will be able to afford it!”
    Not all NRIs are rich, 🙂
    But I am not complaining, as long as my kids are happy and healthy (wherever they grow), I will be happy!

  33. Ravi permalink
    July 21, 2008 7:45 pm

    True wishtobeanon..Not every NRI is rich..lol

  34. February 7, 2009 2:38 pm

    On average, I get 5 hours of sleep. Sometimes I’ll wake up on the dot, without an alarm clock. Now that’s its winter (and freezing), I’m more apt be a bear and hibernate, or at least sleep 8-10 hours. Since I was a baby I’ve been a night owl. Others may think I’m lazy for getting up at noon, but while everyone else is asleep I’m getting things done. But there are also times when I’m up with/before the sunrise, like having to be at a stable. I figure it all evens out. On that note, it’s 4am and time for bed.

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