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March 23, 2010

Do you get enough sleep?

We live our lives through states of wakefulness & sleep. A stressful, unrelenting day can affect sleep patterns, & lack of sleep can make a person cranky.
SleepDr. Bindu M Kutty, Additional Professor, Dept. of Neurophysiology, Nimhans, Bangalore, defines sleep as “a behavioural state essential to maintain physical, mental & emotional wellbeing ”.
While it is generally accepted that an individual requires 6-7hrs of sleep every day, what is ‘enough’ sleep is subjective. Dr Bindu explains, “Enough sleep is defined as the amount of sleep that enables one to get out of bed, refreshed, without the aid of an alarm clock. One should not feel drowsy during the day.”

Poor sleep, say the experts, is linked with cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, immune dysfunction, obesity, affective disorders, impaired daytime functioning and more serious medical conditions. So, sleeping in during the weekends to make up for lack of sleep during the week does not help.

Medical risks

  • Certain cardiovascular diseases develop during certain times of the day. This indicates a clear relationship between sleep & cardiovascular diseases. For example, 15% of sudden deaths & 29% of episodes of atrial fibrillation occur between midnight & 6 am, according to doctors.
  • Though there are more than 100 identified sleep disorders, the most common sleep complaints can be categorised into five, namely, hypersomnia, insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnia, & sleep disorders associated with mental, neurological & other medical disorders.
  • Changing lifestyles have resulted in people suffering from sleep disorders, where the circadian rhythm is disrupted. An increasing number of young people report an inability to fall asleep on time & wake up on time.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation leads to fatigue & affects an individual’s efficiency & alertness.

What is sleep hygiene?

    Here are some tips that could help you:
  • Establish a routine when it comes to sleeping & waking up.
  • Listen to music or meditate to calm your mind & free it up. This aids sound sleep.
  • Keep distractions like television & computers out of your bedroom.
  • Avoid heated argument or any kind of unpleasantness before going to bed.
  • Ensure that children do not watch television or play video games before they sleep.
Since sleep is a very complex process, psychological factors can also be responsible for lack of sleep. How you live your wakeful state thus becomes important.
As Dr Bindu explains, It’s all about how we meet challenges during the day. The way we cope with them leaves a deep impact on our overall wellbeing. We 've to learn to deal with challenges positively or we 've to learn to seek appropriate help."
As a society our knowledge of sleep is rather limited. Our changing lifestyle has led to changes in our body rhythm, so when we face problems related to sleep we must — without delay — seek expert guidance,” she explains.

Meditation is also seen to 've a healthy impact on sleep. According to the studies being carried out on the practitioners of vipassana in the Dept. of Neurophysiology, Nimhans, meditation helps to establish a proper sleep structure, which benefits individuals as they grow older, when sleep typically proves elusive.

33% Indians suffer from insomnia

  • Sleep Awareness Month aims to raise awareness about sleep disorders & highlight the importance of recognising lack of sleep as a serious health condition which can be treated. Nearly one in three Indians suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders.
  • The importance of sleep can be seen from the fact that people spend about one-third of their lifespan sleeping. However, increasing competition at the workplace, hectic lifestyle & stress 've resulted in a higher incidence of sleep related disorders, especially among urban Indians. It is important to create awareness about sleep disorders so that people recognise not only the symptoms but also understand that it is a treatable condition,” says Dr. J C Suri, President, Indian Sleep Disorders Association.

Did you know?

Sleep disorders are gender specific. Lack of sleep hits women harder & raises their risk of heart diseases more than it does for men. Studies also suggest that women require more sleep than men, but generally their sleep is of a higher quality & less fragmented. Women also seem to use sleep medication more than men. For men, use of alcohol is more common, which shortens their sleep time.About 80% of the cases of insomnia seen in general practice is related to anxiety & depression; half of the cases of insomnia in specialised clinics are ascribed to psychological causes, drugs and alcohol. — Indian Sleep Disorders Association

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