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Effects of overnight sleep deprivation on autonomic function and perceived stress in young health professionals and their reversal through yogic relaxation (Shavasana)

Raghul S, Vasanthan S, Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Jaiganesh K, Madanmohan T.

Background: Extensive research has been done to demystify the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive functions, memory, and reasoning ability. However, there is a lacuna in regard to the effects on autonomic function and perceived stress as well as its modulation through yogic relaxation. Healthcare professionals often work at night, and the effect of acute overnight sleep deprivation on their performance is crucial.

Aims and Objectives: The present study was undertaken to study the effects of overnight sleep deprivation on autonomic function and perceived stress in health-care professionals and to determine its modulation through yogic relaxation (Shavasana).

Materials and Methods: A total of 35 healthcare professionals, aged between 20 and 25 years, were recruited from emergency services wing (casualty) of MGMC and RI, Puducherry, and taught yogic relaxation. Heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), and HR variability (HRV) were recorded and Cohenís perceived stress scale (PSS) administered before the commencement of day duty. Parameters were again recorded after overnight sleep deprivation due to night shift work and then after they practiced yogic relaxation (Shavasana). As data passed normality testing, Studentís paired t-test was used to compare the changes after sleep deprivation and then after yogic relaxation.

Results: Overnight sleep deprivation resulted in statistically significant (P < 0.05) increases in systolic BP (SBP), low frequency (LF), LF/high frequency (HF), diastolic BP (DBP), PSS, and mean HR. This was coupled with significant decreases in mean RR, SDNN, pNN50, HF, and RMSSD. Following yogic relaxation, these changes were reversed, and significant decreases were witnessed in LF, LF/ HF, SBP, mean HR, DBP, and PSS with significant increases in mean RR, pNN50, HF, RMSSD, and SDNN.

Conclusion: The findings of our study reiterate the negative effects of sleep deprivation on cardiac autonomic status. Such deleterious effects may be partially reversed by practicing yogic relaxation (Shavasana). Such conscious relaxation may be able to help correct imbalance of autonomic nervous system by enhancing parasympathetic tone and reducing sympathetic overactivity.

Key words: Overnight Sleep Deprivation; Heart Rate Variability; Perceived Stress Scale; Yogic Relaxation; Shavasana

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