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Harmful if I only sleep 1-3 hours at a time?

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How much damage am I doing to my body by only sleeping 1-3 hours at a time? I work 12 hour swing shifts and if I work a nightshift then I stay awake the following day so not to lose an entire day sleeping it away. I have a 2yr. old and a 4yr. old that wouldn't allow me to sleep even if I wanted to. How much damage is this causing my health?

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replied April 22nd, 2011
Sleep Disorders Answer A22237

There are different opinions about how many hours are considered an adequate period of sleep. But It is safe to consider 6-9 hours of sleep is adequate. However, it is reported that at least 4 hours of continuous sleep is necessary per day. And many people can manage to go on with a 4 hour sleep. But a lot depends on factors such as age, physical fitness, etc.

It will be difficult to point out any specific bad effects as well as quantify the damage. You may be able to cope up with less sleep for a while, but the effects will start showing gradually. There can be physical as well as psychological effects of not taking adequate sleep.

It is reported that lack of sleep is associated with depression, anxiety and a few other psychiatric conditions. Lack of adequate sleep can also affect functioning of various body systems such as the gastro-intestinal, cardiovascular, etc.

If you are able to go on with only 1-3 hours of sleep, you may start feeling some symptoms in near future. It is a good idea to make a sleep schedule so that you can make sure you get an aggregate of at least 4-6 hours.

Take care. Hope you are able to get some sleep during the day without affecting the day's work too much.

Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD

(This post is for the purpose of providing medical information and is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a doctor. This post is not intended to give or rule out a diagnosis, create a doctor-patient relationship or replace an existing one. I am not able to diagnose medical conditions online. Please consult with your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options)

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