Sleep is a basic human need, much like eating and drinking.
It is crucial for our overall health and well being. Research shows that we
spend up to a third of our lives sleeping. Good quality and restorative sleep
is essential for day-to-day functioning. Studies suggest that sleep quality, as
well as quantity, impacts our life. On an average, a normal adult needs 7-8
hours of good sleep. In teenagers this may go up to 9 hours, while the elderly
can do with 5-6 hours of it. World Sleep Day is on 19th of March.
According to Dr Manvir Bhatia, Chairperson Sleep Medicine
and Senior Consultant ,Department of Neurology, Sir
Hospital, New Delhi, "sleep is an essential
commodity, which should not be dispensed with, as it cannot be compensated with
anything else. It has a strong relationship with health. So we need to look
after it well."
Ghalib, the famous poet has said in one of his couplets
"maut ka ek din muayyin hai, neend kyu raat bhar nahin aati"
(the day of death has been fixed by the Almighty, So why spend sleepless
World Sleep Day 2010 is being held on 19th March, under the
slogan "Sleep Well, Stay Healthy". It is an international annual
event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important
issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, and social aspects. It
is organized by the "World Association of Sleep Medicine", with the
aim to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better
understanding, prevention and management of sleep conditions by raising
awareness through dissemination of information.
Sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens
health and quality of life, for up to 45% of the world's population. There is
substantial evidence that sleep plays an important role in metabolic,
cognitive, restorative, immune, and endocrine functions. Hence disruption in
sleep affects all these.
Most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable, yet less
than a third of sufferers seek professional help. Sleep medicine is a recent
speciality which deals with various problems related to sleep, ranging from
obstructive sleep apnoea - with predominant symptoms of snoring, to insomnia
(30-45% adults suffer from it) or reduced and poor quality of sleep. Narcolepsy
is another cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. Very often, persons suffering
from these complaints are not aware of the health hazards associated with them.
Persons with sleep disorders may suffer from insufficient
sleep at night and wake up listless, spending the day poorly, with little
concentration and more aches and pains. Or they may have loud snoring and also
wake up tired. In both cases there are periods of irresistible tendency to take
a nap or doze off during work. This affects day time concentration, and, hence,
productivity. It also increases the chances of having other diseases like high
blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack etc. Apart from this, hundreds
of people lose their lives unnecessarily every year due to sleep-related traffic
accidents, including airlines and railways accidents.
Dr Bhatia laments the 'junk sleep syndrome' prevalent in the
modern day teenagers. They are prone to using a whole lot of gadgets like
I-Pod, internet, video games, television, or simply studying till late in the
night, thus pushing their sleep time too late. Obviously they have difficulty
in waking up in the morning and concentrating on their studies in school. They
reach home tired, take a nap and the pattern repeats itself. It is not very
uncommon to find such students having a 'black out' during examination time.
These children are likely to develop a poor memory and low scholastic aptitude,
and also an impaired immune function, thus inviting a host of diseases.
It must not be forgotten that poor sleep is a symptom of a
cause like obstructive sleep apnoea, poor life style, anxiety, depression etc.
Very often the sufferer resorts to the use of sleeping pills, which causes more
harm than good. This self medication often becomes addictive in the long run,
resulting in more problems.
More must be done to completely understand sleep and to
understand better the cause of sleep disorders. We need to increase awareness
about sleep related disorders particularly in students, and those working in
BPO industry, railways, airlines and road transport services.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these disorders
can prevent serious health conditions and improve the quality of life.
and Neurology And Sleep Centre have taken a step in the direction of increasing
awareness among general public about sleep disorders by organizing free Sleep
Camps, under the guidance of Dr Manvir Bhatia. These camps provide free
consultation by sleep specialists, besides offering dietary advice, yoga
training, and psychological counselling related to sleep with provision for
blood investigations and sleep studies.
A good night's sleep takes care of many of the physiological
and metabolic parameters of our life.
So look after your sleep and enjoy a good health. Wake
up every day feeling refreshed to face the challenges of life with renewed
Contributed by: Bobby Ramakant