– By Faiza Syed, Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences
It was a warm summer’s night and I was so tired from all the day’s work. Thinking once again about how tired I was and how deserving I was of sleep, my eyelids automatically became heavy and I was pretty near to a peaceful slumber when the lights went off. Oh joy! I cried sarcastically. And it wasn’t long before I was fighting (half asleep, by the way) against a dozen pitiless mosquitoes who thought of me as their midnight snack. Not to mention struggling with the tough decision of either wrapping yourself up in bed-sheets, creating a mini sauna inside, OR letting go of the sheets and inviting the mosquitoes in.
I’m sure you all have had this mini-experience. Maybe this was the lighter side of the story (I think) but the implications of sleep deprivation due to load shedding are much more serious. And since I take pride in calling myself a geeky scientist, I have come up with statistics to prove it! In a review written by Mary A. Carskadon1, she describes three major social impacts of sleep deprivation.
Number one, being the most likely, is the increasing incidence of car crashes and, not surprisingly, about 4333 crashes were reported within the US during a span of two years, related to sleep deprivation. Most importantly, young drivers under the age of 25 are at a greater risk (since sleep is very important to us, we all know that!)
How many times have you guys heard your mothers say, “go to sleep on time, otherwise you’ll get ill”? Well, turns out they are pretty darn right. Don’t get enough sleep? Then say hello to a weak immune system. Mary A. Carskadon further describes that lack of sleep causes your immune system to work, well… less efficiently, resulting in lower amounts of white blood cells and cytokines (which are kind of protective chemicals produced by W.B.C.s).
And the last one is for all the diet/weight conscious girls out there. Not getting proper sleep also makes you fat. Yes, Ef-Aay-Tee, fat. When you don’t get enough sleep that is required of your age group, the body is easily inclined towards obesity. To be more precise, “for each hour of lost sleep, the odds of obesity are increased by 80%”. (No wonder the diet plan didn’t work!)
The list goes on for sleep deprivation related problems but the message I wanted to deliver was not at all that we quit everything and literally prove ourselves to be a sleeping nation. My motive was simply to highlight that the impact of load shedding on our lives is far out-reaching than we imagine. And what I discussed was just a small bit of the story. As I see it, it’s not load shedding, it’s a menace.
Not enough to alarm you? Then do give a read to an article published in The News International here that highlights the same issues and addresses the problems faced by the Karachi population. It highlights the rise in stomach-related disorders and hypertension, and psychological impacts of load shedding as well, to name a few.
1Mary A. Carskadon. Sleep deprivation: health consequences and societal impact.