Insomnia can lead to lethargy, decrease in appetite, lack of motivation and adverse effects on overall quality of life. Photograph: TNS
Mitchelle D'Souza, staff reporter
In an environment beset with the overuse of technology and social media, capping the minimum required hours of sleep is something of an achievement. Add to this long working hours, time spent in traffic and the resultant pushing ahead of your night-time shut eye, and you have the perfect makings of a body clock-wrecking disaster.
Sleep, apart from a good diet and exercise, is an essential requisite for leading a healthy existence. Lack of sleep is known to have damaging effects on one’s daily functioning.
We caught up with Dr. Sunil Vyas, Pulmonology specialist from Aster Hospital in Dubai, who answered all our queries regarding the optimum hours of sleep required and treatment of sleeping disorders among other things.
There is a lot of conjecture about the ideal hours of sleep required for an adult. Can you tell us the amount of sleep we need to achieve?
Optimum sleep requirement varies from individual to individual. According to the National Sleep Organisation, a teenager between the ages of 14-17 years needs at least 8-10 hours of quality sleep, with those aged 18-64 years requiring between 8-10 hours. Interestingly, this falls when you cross the age of 65, requiring only 7-8 hours. On average, sleep between 7-9 hours would be sufficient for an adult.
How do I find out if I am suffering from a sleep disorder?
The most common symptom of a sleep disorder is the lack of, or decreased sleep at night, resulting in excessive sleepiness in the day. The common causes are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, to name a few.
Using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine while sleeping can improve sleep apnea.
What are the treatments?
Treatment varies as per the type of sleep disorder. Insomnia, for example, is associated with a lot of risk factors including stress, psychological issues, depression and odd work timings like night shifts. Sleep apnea can be attributed to factors such as obesity, hypertension, retrognathia (recessed jaw and overbite). The treatment therefore depends on the risk factors leading to it. For example, using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine while sleeping can improve sleep apnea.
Who are the kind of people most likely to suffer from sleep disorders?
People who suffer from sleep disorders also often suffer from conditions such as depression and obesity. Following odd timings at work or consuming alcohol or caffeinated products also affects sleep. I would recommend going to bed every day between 8pm-12am, of course depending upon the person’s work and holidays, to have relaxed sleep.
Can an afternoon slumber make up for inadequate night sleep?
Afternoon slumber or a siesta has often proven to be effective in improving alertness in work and reducing lethargy but it has shown to cause reduced sleep in the night. At the same time, it cannot ever be a substitute for a good night's sleep.
How does insomnia affect one’s body?
Insomnia can be classified as chronic if you are not able to sleep for more than three nights in a week for at least three months. Over a period, this will begin to affect the body, leading to lethargy, decrease in appetite, lack of motivation and adverse effects on overall quality of life.
Can you briefly tell us about the dos and don’ts for a good night’s sleep?
Healthy sleep is made possible by the perfect union of an ideal bedtime, adequate sleep duration and the environment you sleep in. Using a good pillow offering head and neck support and comfortable mattress, with the lights and ambient sound as low as possible, are essential to maintain circadian rhythm or a human being’s daily cycle. You must absolutely avoid cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine prior to sleep. People who are used to working on the laptop or spending extended time on their smartphones prior to sleep should absolutely avoid it.
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