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Insomnia: The New Epidemic

Human beings today are no longer shying away from expressing their psychological and emotional angsts. Going to a counsellor is no longer a closeted choice. On a parallel vein, the plethora of mental wellness issues are also constantly expanding and compounding . Therefore this is a space that envisages to address the entire gamut of issues pertaining to mental health and wellbeing by experts from MIND India Wellness Centre

Insomnia: The New Epidemic

Sentinel Digital Desk

For the millennials who want success at any cost, sleep seems to have taken a backseat. People take pride in sleeping less than normal and working more. Also with the advent of cell phones and other electronic devices, we tend to spend more and more time on them and to compensate for the time loss, we have started sleeping less. In fact, two thirds of adults throughout all developed and developing countries fail to obtain the recommended 7 to 8 hours of night sleep, so much so that WHO has now declared a sleep loss epidemic throughout the world.

Why is sleep so important? It influences almost everything that is happening in our body thus affecting both our physical as well as our mental health. Within the brain, sleep enriches a plethora of functions- our ability to learn, memorize and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotional brain circuits, allowing us to navigate day to day challenges of life.
Let take the incident of Mr. Ajay (name changed). He is a 27 years old bank employee having a 9 to 5 job. Last Monday, he binged on his favourite series on Netflix and slept at 3 am. He woke up at 8 am and somehow reached his workplace. He felt lazy and lethargic; was not able to concentrate and made errors at work. Infact he was irritable and angry and even yelled at a customer so much so that he was reprimanded by his manager. Does this sound similar to anyone who hadnt had enough sleep on some nights?
Insomnia impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. During the night, various sleep cycles play a role in consolidating memories in the mind. Even though sleep gives our body the physical rest, its actually processing and consolidating our memory. When we do not get the sleep we need, our bodies do not forget; we go into sleep debt. Our bodies continues to pay back this debt by trying to get sleep whenever possible, which can result in microsleep. These microsleeps impede concentration and negatively impact retention of information. Studies show that insomnia leads to car accidents, increase in alcohol and substance use as well as caffeine and other stimulants. Additionally, people who have insomnia secrete abnormally low levels of testosterone and may be prone to low sex drive. Sleep disturbance contributes to all major psychiatric conditions like depression, psychosis, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. Inadequate sleep also contributes to development of early dementia and increases vulnernability to different lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes and stroke.
So, what is the solution? It's simple – maintain sleep hygiene. Incorporate sleep promoting habits and decrease sleep depriving habits. The do's for good sleep are- to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Some Dont's : Remove electronic devices
, such as TVs, computers and smart phone from the bedroom; avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. Doing this can determine whether an underlying condition is causing your sleep problems and can provide the treatment you may need. Overall the productivity comes down drastically with sleep deprivation- both in academics and at the work place. So, the next time you want to score more in exams or want to impress your boss, do have a good night sleep instead of burning the midnight oils. If you continue to have issues with your sleep patterns or insomnia, be sure to follow up with your doctor, especially a psychiatrist.

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