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Less sleep, less libido

Dr Kedar Padte

Andro and Aroganto were in a tense conversation with assistant professor Talkerato.

“My erectile function has deteriorated significantly over the last two years,” grumbled Aroganto. I am not half of the boy I used to be. I eat well, never miss my gym and yet this dysfunction, these were the thoughts running through his mind.

Talkerato mentioned that he had read a lot about deteriorating sexual function amongst teenage children due to lack of sleep. He asked: “Andro, how many hours do you sleep?”

Andro said he probably sleeps for around eight hours as his parents tell him that.

Takerato wanted to further analyse the situation and asked Andro to delve deeper. He said: “You leave for college at 7 a.m. Check your sleep time and not the time you spend in your bedroom.”

Andro thought for a while and then said: “Oh, 10 p.m. There is homework and assignments, and then I check my emails, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I think I fall asleep by 1 a.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. only to rush to college.”

Talkerato said that is six hours or less, and asked Aroganto about his sleep time. He answered: “I retire by 12 to the bedroom. Then there is the latest movie to watch, besides all the things to do that Andro just listed. I think I sleep by 3 a.m. and wake up by 7.30 a.m. or 8 a.m. before Mom pushes me out… that makes it five hours or less.”

“What about on the nights your party?” asked Talkerato

Aroganto said: “Oh Sir, if the alcohol is good I never come home before 4 am. That means the next day goes for a toss.”

Professor Talkerato said: “That my dear is the cause of reduced libido in you.”

There is a lot of literature on this in medical books and on the internet. By nature, we are supposed to sleep after sunset. Years ago we were a non violent species in the Stone Age. We behaved like any other animal. Sleep at sunset and woke up at dawn. There were no lights, electricity or the internet to keep us awake.

The body is the same and has a circadian rhythm. It secretes all the right hormones at sunrise , irrespective of what time you sleep.

The steroids, thyroid hormones, insulin and blood sugar are all regulated by sleep and sunrise pattern. That is why air hostesses who fly many time zones suffer a lot. And now with night jobs like security services, transcontinental online jobs, frequent exams, other distractions or attractions sleep patterns have altered a lot.

Besides lack of libido, insomnia can result in peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, hypertension, strokes and psychiatric disorders.

“How much sleep does a teenager need?” interjected Andro. In the August issue of National Geographic magazine an entire article is dedicated to sleep.

If you go by physiology, an average teenager needs 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Reports by sleep foundation indicate that less than 15 per cent of teenagers get 8 hours sleep every night

Americans sleep less than seven hours a night, about two hours less than century ago. In our restless floodlit society, we often think of sleep as an adversary.

Nearly every night of our lives, we undergo a startling metamorphosis.

The waking brain is optimised for collecting information, the sleeping brain for consolidating. At night we switch from recording to editing.

Sleep can be divided in 4 stages:

Stages 1-2: As we fall asleep our brain stays active and fires into its editing process deciding which memories to keep and which ones to toss. Sleep reinforces memory so powerfully that it might be best if exhausted soldiers returning from harrowing missions did not go directly to bed.

Stages 3-4: We enter a deep, coma-like sleep that is as essential to our brain as food is to our body. It’s a time for physiological housekeeping, not for dreaming.

The effect of coloured light: Steven Lockley’s lab at Brigham and women’s hospital in Boston studies a phenomenon that affects us every day: Light and how specific wavelengths of it falling on the eye affect our brain, our brain behaviour, and our physiology. Light rich in red wavelengths is best at night because it has the least power to promote alertness or reset our 24 hour biological clock

Anyone who regularly sleeps less than six hours has a higher risk of depression, psychosis, stroke and obesity. Sleeplessness undermines your whole body.

Every time we experience REM sleep, we literally go mad. Psychosis is a condition characterised by hallucinations and delusions. Dreaming, some sleep scientists say, is a psychotic state – we fully believe that we see what is not there, and we accept that time, location and people can morph and disappear.

“Sir, you have never spoken to us this much,” said Aroganto and added “Your explanation will not only help me understand my lifestyle, but also modify my sleeping hours.”

Good said Talkerato and added “As long as you do not fall asleep in my class.”

(Columnist is a well-known gynaecologist practising in Panaji. Send in your queries to


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