These days there is story about Mr. Ranjan Das, CEO and MD of SAP-Indian subcontinent's death after a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai recently, being circulated in whats app circles alot. Lets read it out first and then I will tell you what are benefits of Good night's sleep.

One of the youngest CEOs, Mr. Ranjan Das was only 42. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids.

What killed Mr. Ranjan Das? Mr. Das 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. 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 an earlier interview 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 (<5 or 5-6 hours) increases risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. 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.

Why is good night's sleep important? Scientists have gone to great lengths to fully understand sleep's benefits. In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. Broadly, top 10 benefits of sleeping for atleast 7-8 hrs. are as follows: 1. Improves your memory 2. Extends your lifespan 3. Boosts your creativity 4. Strengthens your immune system 5. Reduces your risk for depression 6. Improves your physical performance 7. Sharpens your attention 8. Reduces your stress 9. Helps your body heal itself 10. Helps you lose weight 11. Makes you more alert 12. Last but the most importantly sleeping well makes your heart healthy and may prevent cancer as well. In conclusion: Barring stress control, Mr. 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.