It’s World Sleep day on March 17, and CE finds that sleep disorders are common among millennials.Erratic work hours, spending a lot of time on social media at night, food consumption and drinking alcohol are some of the reasons given by experts.
CHENNAI:Waking up early, going for a quick jog to kick up that adrenaline, a healthy breakfast, and then head to work. And by the end of the day, when it’s all done, tuck under the quilt before the clock strikes 10 pm. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Yes, it is, to many! Welcome to the world of sleep disorders. At a time when ‘binge TV watching’, late work shifts and several ‘night owls’ lurking behind their computer screens increase in number, City Express finds out how millennials are coping with sleep disorders, how quality sleep helps in having a proper ‘sleep hygiene’and more…
Among people with healthy biological clocks, there are ‘larks’ or ‘morning people’, who prefer to sleep and wake up early, as well as ‘owls’ or ‘night people’, who prefer to sleep and wake up late. “Whether you are a lark or an owl, you must be able to wake up in time in the morning, and fall asleep at night, again, in time so that you get enough sleep to go through the cycle every day,” opines Dr Gauthamadas Udipi, senior consultant in Neuro Behavioral Medicine.
With insomnia being the most common sleep disorder, experts say that it can be found frequently in adolescents, and also people working in media, IT and banking fields, who have irregular work timings. “I used to go to bed early. Unfortunately, I have a job that demanded night shifts. My whole biological clock and behaviour were affected. Some days, I used to sleep the whole day and other times, I used to be awake for two to three days straight. Either way, I started becoming cranky and had abnormal weight loss,” rues Malavika (21).
Though some struggle to cope with demanding work shifts like Malavika, many youngsters suffer from sleep disorders, which they “brought it upon themselves,” points psychologist Lakshmi Vijayakumar. “Most youngsters are awake till 3 am, using social media or WhatsApp. This in turn affects their day time work and they are unable to concentrate in school/college,” she says.
Also, cyber bullying, sexting and other practices have become the norm during night hours, which in turn affect both sleeping cycle and psychology, she adds. “Just like how dental hygiene is important, having good sleep hygiene is mandatory. One can have a small routine before going bed — taking a shower, drinking milk or listening to good music helps. Switching off all electronic gadgets before sleeping goes a long way in normalising sleep cycle,” she informs.
From leading a quality life, better sex, and healthier breathing rates to regulated metabolism, a good night’s sleep can seamlessly alter one’s life. The hours of sleep you require varies from person to person, but on an average, teenagers need around eight to 10 hours and most adults need seven to eight hours a night.
“Elders may need only four to six hours. Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term or chronic insomnia,” explains Dr Gautham. With insomnia, you usually wake up and not feeling refreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day.
Sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life for up to 45% of the world’s population. Apart from insomnia, hyperinsomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, a ‘sleep terror’ episode, is the most common occurrence among the youth population. “These usually last from seconds to a few minutes. Sleep terrors differ from nightmares. A person having a nightmare wakes up from the dream and remembers details, but a person who has a sleep terror remains asleep and goes back to sleep after the episode. They do not, therefore, remember the episode,” elucidates Gautham.
During a sleep terror episode, a person might sit up in bed, scream or shout, kick and thrash about, get out of bed and run around the house, and engage in violent behavior. “These are sometimes associated with underlying conditions that affect sleep, such as use of alcohol, or certain medications — including some antihistamines, sedatives and sleeping pills, anxiety and depression,” he explains.
Prashant, a 27-year-old media professional, shares that his attempt to get a good night’s sleep by consuming alcohol led to sleep terrors. “I have been unable to sleep for even three hours a day and I started consuming alcohol whenever I wanted to sleep. But, it had a drastic effect on me and I started having sleep terror episodes and nightmares,” shares Prashant who is taking to homeopathic treatment.
“In homeopathy, we don’t just help you sleep. We also focus on normalisisng sleep patterns by finding the root cause for the disorder. We even have treatments for specific type for dreams like being chased by snakes, or by thieves,” adds Dr M Ravindran, a homeopath.