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Dan Walker discusses his style of presenting on Channel 5 show

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Ditching the early wake-up calls after six years at the BBC, Walker, 45, medicine price control stepped down from to move to Channel 5 where he has been hosting 5 news at 5 with Dan Walker for over a month. Speaking about his new role and if he misses the 3am alarms, the star shared that the presenting role turned him into a “bit of a zombie” but the sluggish starts were worth it for such an “amazing job”.

With only positive things to say about his time at the BBC, Walker also added: “I never minded it when the alarm went off, you got a head-start on everyone else and I was getting up to do an amazing job.

“But it does turn you into a bit of a zombie.

“There was a fortnight once where I was doing other jobs, too, and getting fewer than 24 hours’ sleep per week.”

He admitted: “That’s not healthy.”

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Going on to say how different he feels how he has changed his schedule, he shared: “I’ve got so much more energy, I feel unstoppable! I’m writing a book, and I do love cutting the grass.”

This was not the first time that Walker has commented on the change of his schedule. Taking to Twitter back in May, he shared: “It’s quite fun not having to go to bed isn’t it?” Before his former co-host Sally Nugent jokingly replied: “Stop it.”

The Sleep Foundation explains that even one night of insufficient sleep can lead to individuals feeling drowsy during the day, lacking in energy, more irritable and slowed thinking.

While the short-term impacts of sleep deprivation are more noticeable, chronic sleep deprivation can heighten the long-term risk of physical and mental health problems.

It is important to note that the term sleep deprivation refers to getting less than the needed amount of sleep required for the individual’s age range. For adults this is seven to nine hours of sleep per night and for children this is even higher.

Other symptoms of sleep deprivation in adults can include:

  • Constant yawning
  • The tendency to doze off when not active for a while; for example, when watching television
  • Grogginess when waking in the morning
  • Sleepy grogginess experienced all day long (sleep inertia)
  • Poor concentration and mood changes (more irritable).

Although there are different types of sleep deprivation, it is chronic sleep deprivation that is known to cause a severe impact on an individual’s health.

Affecting nearly all systems of the body, potential health conditions can include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immunodeficiency, pain, depression, anxiety and obesity.

Although it is not clear exactly how sleep affects the heart, research from the British Heart Foundation suggests disturbed sleep is associated with higher levels of a protein called CRP.

This is a sign of inflammation, the process linked with heart and circulatory disease. Sleep can also have an indirect impact on heart health, by affecting an individual’s lifestyle choices.

In addition, a small study carried out by researchers at King’s College London suggested that not sleeping enough might affect the hormones which influence appetite, in turn increasing desire for sugary foods. Over a long period of time this could lead to weight gain, and a greater risk of coronary heart disease.

Given these important impacts of sleep deprivation, it comes as no surprise that studies have also found insufficient sleep to be tied with a greater overall risk of death, as well as a lower quality of life.

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An important difference between sleep deprivation and a sleep disorder such as insomnia is that people with insomnia have trouble sleeping even when they have plenty of time to sleep. Whereas people with sleep deprivation don’t have enough time allocated for sleep as a result of behaviour choices or everyday obligations.

This distinction is important to make before individuals seek medical attention as doctors will ask patients about their symptoms and sleep patterns.

For those suffering with an ongoing or worsening sleep problem, working with a doctor is a good first step in finding relief. From there they can be recommended treatments and remedies. Individuals that just accept sleep deprivation will suffer with consequences and symptoms in the long-term unnecessarily.

In most cases, a focus on sleep hygiene — your sleep environment and daily habits — is a central component of preventing and treating sleep deprivation. The Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep hygiene tips:

  • Have a consistent sleep schedule
  • Set boundaries in your work and social life
  • Have a bedtime routine
  • Avoid things that can interfere with sleep (electronic devices, alcohol, caffeine)
  • Make the most of the day.

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