Why sleep is very important for the body to be alive and kicking – Insights from true stories

I am usually sleepy by 10 pm and struggle to keep my eyes open, all the more when I am at the wheels! My wife Indira calls umpteen number of times, if I am driving beyond 10 pm, to make sure that I get out of the car. She also complains that I am a party-pooper, as I hit the bed early, when all others are getting into the mood. So is the case, when I excuse myself from any get-together with ‘sleep’ as the reason!

In fact, I came out of a near death accident once, while driving alone in the countryside and slept off at the wheel, only to find my Scorpio air-borne and then landing in a thud in the paddy fields by the side of a national highway. I only know how I survived and came out of it.

I am usually sleepy by 10pm and try to hit the bed, but I find myself up and awake in 4-5 hours, rearing to go by 3am. During my student days, even at IIM, I used to head to the library at 3am while the whole campus is heading back to their dens. I took pride in only ‘4-5 hours’ sleep that I needed….

…. Until my brother, Dr. Parameswaran, passed me this story of Late Sri Ranjan Das [From: DR.N Siva (Senior Cardiologist)]. I did a little research to put this together, for myself and for many others who need to respond and change.

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Here is the story of Ranjan Das, then CEO and MD of SAP-Indian subcontinent, one of the youngest CEOs in India then. I found this short clip by NDTV..

Ranjan shares that working out regularly, eating healthy and catching plenty of sleep are important for the physical well-being of every human being! He goes on to say, that he does well on the first two, but the third one is the scarcity…

Ranjan, unfortunately died after a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai in Oct 2009.

What killed Ranjan Das?

He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner.

After his workout, he 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.

The question arises as to why an exceptionally active, athletic person succumbed to a heart attack at 42 years of age.

What is the real reason?

Everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to manage with 4-5 hours of sleep. In the above interview clip of Ranjan on NDTV in the program ‘Boss’ day out’, Ranjan Das himself admitted that he sleeps less and would love to get more sleep.

Short sleep duration

Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Individuals who sleep less than 5 hours a night have a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks.

  • 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 also cause cancer, arthritis and heart disease.
  • Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 8% increase in heart disease.

What is ideal sleep?

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.

  • No wonder when one wakes up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, he/she is mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep).
  • And if somebody has slept for less than 5 hours, the body is in a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), the person is tired throughout the day and immunity is way down.

In conclusion:

Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising, maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. That killed him.

We are playing with fire if we are sleeping less than 7 hours, even if we have low stress.

Do not set your alarm clock under 7 hours.

Ranjan Das is not alone. Do Share it with all the Good People In your Life..

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Enough of this ‘ego-boosting’ stuff, I resolve to sleep at least 7 hours. Let me relax more. You too respond, for yourself and your family…

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Challenging the body, Challenges the mind! The universe is my playground then….

After almost a month long break, due to very cold early mornings, in the last couple of days I started getting again on my all terrain bicycle, for the customary 13 km ride. I have embraced the cycling mode of physical fitness a few months ago. I have always felt really good exerting myself every morning, or evening, if I miss the morning fitness regime. It has been running usually, and the six months of summer sees me in the pool, for an hour of non-stop swimming, very serious one – covering about 2 kms. Of course, the month long dance classes that come a couple of times in a year are also a great way to infuse energy!

Over the last couple of years, I have been inspired to see two of my friends, Sunil Batra (An eminent educationist) and S Jassal (An erudite, cultured, entrepreneurial Sardarji in our Sarita vihar neighbourhood) gaining extraordinary fitness, cycling. They lost oodles of flab and started looking younger by a couple of decades (both are in their fifties). I have been thinking of taking to the pedal for a while, as my knees and shin have given in to the wear and tear of three decades of sports, especially running.

The shift to our own house in the fringes of the green belt, the ridge that extends from Gurgaon through Delhi, in the neighbourhood of Asola wild life sanctuary, has been a blessing. The fresh air, the long winding ridge road that is out of bounds for heavy vehicles prompted me to quickly embrace cycling. And the morning 13-km ride, that takes about 45 minutes, is a revelation for me. It is for keeps, for life time perhaps.

I revel in physical exertion, as the hour invested in stretching the limits of my body, does a world of good to my mind and soul too. Every idea of my life has emerged from these strenuous, yet regaling hours on the road or in the pool. When the adrenalin gets pumped, the chemicals released create a compelling ‘thought space’ for me to explore my own self; grand ideas have got conceived and plans to execute them naturally flows. I never would want to trade this hour of self-exertion with anything.

Recently, the power of my physical fitness came to fore, a revelation, a reassurance to me too, and also a shocker for many CLites, when on the day of Sports Srijan (monthly creative activity at office to engage the entire CL family) at the Greater Noida campus; I challenged everyone to finish three rounds of the track; and I was the only one to finish and had so much more fuel still left within. And the very evening, for the finale, the finals of the cricket match, I was called in to play for one of the teams. Lo behold! I scored 38 of the 49 runs the team made in eight overs and we defeated the much fancied team by a dozen runs.

My regular attire of Indian kurta and pyjama conceals the real me and creates a false image, I realized, when every one came and asked, “Sir, kya raaj hai sir… aap dikhte nahin ho” [what is the secret, you do not look so]; I felt good and also got inspired by my own fitness. It has always kept me very positive and pushed me to think big.

This morning, when I woke up, and browsed my mobile I came across a very invigorating video on an adventurous mountain biker, Danny Macaskill. I could feel his vision, passion and compelling life of pushing boundaries! Here is the film….

Whenever I meet Sunil, I invariably also talk about his 40-km bicycle rides over the weekends. Recently he shared about his experiences of going on a 400-km ride in Rajasthan with fellow bicycling enthusiasts. I always felt doing it. Today, January 25th, Indira’s birthday (also being a Sunday), I chose to gift myself and the whole family a bright beginning, by pushing my body and mind further. The 42-km weekend cycling ride, my dream for long, took two-and-half hours and made me feel really good about myself. My body feels good, I feel good that I have been able to regale myself on this ride. This is going to be part of my regular regimen over the weekend now on.

I know for sure, that if I do over 100-kms every week, I shall be conquering more heights in my life, painting more canvasses of ideas, and the universe will certainly continue to be my play ground. I am making it happen for sure.

UNSUNG HEROES 3 – Ponnuchammy, Madurai : thriving soup business

My travel itinerary crisscrosses across the country to motivate youngsters to get into the best of the institutions like IIMs, IITs, NLS etc and then excel in life. I make it a point that on every visit to a city, I look for a few exciting personalities, amazing characters, yet unknown and unsung. They are heroes in their own right.

While on the streets, the most omnipresent business is street food. What would the streets be bereft of these hunger quenching souls? Most of the times, you and I do not take notice of or acknowledge. Many of them remain nameless and we do not bother to know about. I am sure most self-professed management gurus would take umbrage to calling these unsung as entrepreneurs.

A few of these unsung are young and rearing, while quite of few are wizened and have been doing business for decades but have not bothered to create a brand of their own nor scaled up. Yes, many of them are brands, unbeknown to themselves and they have not cashed in.

When I interact with these unsung, I find them either happy and self-contended with what they are doing, or find themselves ill-equipped to take their business to next level. Most are looking for a young, dynamic youngster with a vision, well-equipped to facilitate their business to the next level. This is where I wonder what a young entrepreneurial-spirited MBA can do? Unfortunately every MBA is seeking a job, and almost every B-school is a glorified placement agency! Can we challenge the young to create success stories.

In the next part of my series, Unsung heroes, I am covering yet another inspiring gentleman, this time from Madurai, who is serving the hungry – you and me.

Ponnuchammy, The Madurai soupman
Ponnuchammy, The Madurai soupman

Ponnuchamy, Madurai

I took a night state transport bus from Kochi to Madurai this march. It took me eight hours and I disembarked in Madurai at 5am. Jayant and Guhan, two of my CL friends, picked me from the bus stand in Madurai and took me to a ‘modest’ hotel. For me it was a luxury. Since my day was choc-o-block from 10:30, I wanted to visit the city, especially Minakshi temple and the old city before the day begins.

At 7am we left for the temple. What a creation it is, a 3500 year old edifice, though renovated twice extensively since then. We finished our photo-perambulations around the temple complex and exited for the hotel. I shall blog it in my travelogues, as that is a different story. For those keen photo enthusiasts, check out the photostream on FLICKR for Madurai Minakshi temple and the photostory

Guhan asked me whether I would like to have a juice to start the day. I volunteered! On the way he stopped by the roadside, in front of a soup vendor and asked ‘how about a soup?’ This was a roadside make shift soup vendor, who had a couple of tables with three large steel drums and a few serving tools. I noticed a flex with photos of green leafy vegetables with labels. There was this thirty- some young man, ponnuchammy, dishing out soup to his clients. I was taken in by the concept and as is my want asked ponnuchammy about the idea. He shared that he was earlier into some other small business and as someone in the family was not well stumbled upon this concept. More research on ayurveda yielded new ideas and thus business emerged.

Ponnuchammy showed the flex board behind him and went on to share the medicinal and health values of the herbs in the pictures. They were in all about 12 Soup ideas that he generated. He shared that he keeps three of these soups every day, and the soups change every day of the week. Asking a few questions about my health, he suggested that I have a particular soup. And I did.

I was a little curious to know more about the business. Ponnuchammy starts his day early at 2:30am with cleaning, gleaning and boiling the herbs and creating the soup concoctions that get ready by 6am. He transports them to the road-side shop of his by 7am and he exhausts all of his stock by 10am.

The financials of the business.

Three cans of 165, 100 and, 100 Litres respective of three soups
Each glass of 100ml costs Rs. 10/-
so his revenue per day is 365 * 10 * 10 = Rs. 36,500/-
Monthly he makes 4.4 lakhs and annually about 50 Lakhs

Costs are bare minimal. He may end up with a margin of 80%. A 40-lakh profit business for a young man at the street corner is no mean achievement. An MBA will take ages to reach such a handsome earnings in his career.

Here is the great irony. Business schools have Become glorified placement agencies and MBA, aspirants think, passport for a job. Passion and perseverance brings the rewards. None better than being an entrepreneur. If Ponnuchammy can make it, can you and I, with an MBA can take a similar business to a multi-million dollar multi-country business for sure. Study closely how Haldirams, Bikanerwala, Saravanabhavan and many from this ilk have transcended now. If Yoga can happen, any business can. Take charge of your every day and your life!

‘Fun and Games’ … check my photoblog

Inspired by many an outstanding photographer like Steve McCurry, I have started a photoblog wherein I am trying to classify and knit photos that I shot, under encompassing themes. It is a very challenging, painstaking, yet a thrilling work for me to document and knit. Looking forward to your visit and seeking your feedback.

Visit and leave feedback SREENIViews, FUN and Games

The latest curation at SREENIViews is ‘FUN and Games’. I picked up just 20+ photos from a photobase of over 10 thousand photos that I have uploaded in public. Each of these photos just showcases an interesting fun or game situation, many have been left out.. I am sure as the blog evolves, I will keep bringing a few more into the space..

A couple of the photos here, that are not part of ‘FUN and Games’ curation, yet belongs to the set…

The Pirates, Las Vegas, USA
The Pirates, Las Vegas, USA

Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn. ~Terri Guillemets

Yunan Acrobatic dance group, China
Yunan Acrobatic dance group, China

Kindly visit and leave feedbackSREENIViews, FUN and Games

Incredible India! Nagaland

NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-20-0014Going to School                                ...1Catchin up!                                 ...2NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0123NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0068Party Time                                         ...2
Nurturing Talents                               ....7Naga Heritage Village, KisamaNagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-15-0077NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0147NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-20-00291From a Naga home
NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-20-0152NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-15-0057NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0046NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0114Hope and Conviction 1NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0021
NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0048Nurturing Talent                               ...3NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-19-0028NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0033NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0074NagalandSPICMACAY-2008-06-21-0131

Incredible India! Nagaland, a set on Flickr.

Nagaland, an amazing land of rich traditions and strong tribal followings. The eighteen tribes that are prominent have made the state vibrant in every term – the colors and weaves of the costumes, to style of cooking to the decoration of the houses. Everything is very distinct.

World Dance Day!

World Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is Dance
World Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is Dance
World Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is Dance
World Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is DanceWorld Dance Day - IHC - The Exuberance That Is Dance

Dances of India, a set on Flickr.

Wishing every one freedom and liberty, energy and enthusiasm, rhythm and music on this day of free spirited world dance day…

Paint your own canvas, Dance creating your own arena…

Have a great day!

Love,
Sreeni

I hope, we will…

For nations, you never know when an earthquake, hurricane or tsunami is going to devastate all the glitter – for individuals, seizures and cancers even in young and healthy are as enervating… Nature has a way of responding to all deeds that we do.

Can we stop being greedy…. Materialistic pursuits, luxuries, amassing wealth, fame etc that we humans go after are very ephemeral. After all what are we going to carry from this world when we go on our final journey!

Can we be humble and considerate to all that nature has given or created, Can we care more for our fellow beings and the environment; Can we own up everything and everyone around us without any ego and malice… I hope we will… Love.

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