India is the second most sleep deprived country: What we can do to fix our sleep habits

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Reports show that India is the second most sleep deprived country after Japan. The recommendations for minimal sleep of seven hours is based on the role it plays in our bodies and for the same reason it’s important to understand that the issue caused by shortage of sleep goes beyond ‘just tiredness’. Dr. Harish Shetty, MD – Psychiatry, MBBS – Psychiatrist at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai shares, “Sleep, our daily necessity plays a paramount role in our day-to-day life. It is highly interconnected to our well-being and guides the course of our daily life. From staying healthy to staying productive the entire day, there are numerous reasons why getting a good night’s sleep is essential. Fatigue, headache, mood swings all go hand-in-hand with our mental well-being. Our capacity for learning, memory, and emotional equilibrium all depends on sleep quality. Our brain processes data and produces long-term memories while we sleep. Thus, it’s critical to get enough sleep so that our brains can work at their best capability.
How to know you are sleep deprived?

The biggest question is how does one know they are truly sleep deprived? Dr. Joy Desai, MBBS, MD – General Medicine, DNB – Neurology – Neurologist, at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre answers. “Your sleep cycle communicates closely with your immune system. Your immune system releases cytokines as you sleep, which are vital for fighting against infections. These protective cytokines and other infection-fighting antibodies may be produced less when you don’t get enough sleep and hence falling sick constantly can be a sign of not getting quality zzz’s. Similarly feeling agitated over small issues, constantly feeling tired or not being able to concentrate can be signs of sleep deprivation.”

Where are we going wrong?Duration, continuity and depth of sleep are 3 key elements of good quality sleepexplains Dr Joy. Some of the more common reasons for sleep deprivation include screen time before bed, napping anywhere, anytime, not ensuring a sleep-wake cycle. Dr YongChiat Wong, Group Scientist, Medical & Technical Affairs, P&G Health – Asia Pacific, India, Middle East, and Africa further adds, “From normalizing short naps to overcompensating for sleep during the holidays, some of these habits and schedules may result in poor sleep cycle that could negatively affect a person’s health. As per the recently conducted ZzzQuil India National Sleep Survey in association with Kantar, among those with occasional sleeplessness, close to 54% cited digital and social media habits as the primary reason for sleeping difficulties, thereby resulting in a poor sleep routine.”

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The Great Indian Sleep Scorecard by Wakefit highlighted key observations in India’s sleep behavior, revealing how 87% of Indians use their phones before bed, thereby contributing to the country’s abject sleep problem. It further revealed that 67% of women feel sleepy during work hours as against 56% of men. The year saw a 21% increase in people feeling sleepy during work hours as compared to last year.

How to fix your sleep

Dr. Jitendra Varshney, Wellness Director, Six Senses Vana shares a few guidelines for quality sleep.

1. Find your sleep schedule and stick to it. Being consistent in going to bed, and especially when waking up, is one of the best ways to improve your quality sleep. With a regular routine, you will feel the need to sleep as your bedtime approaches and avoid difficulty in falling asleep.
2. Eliminate caffeine by 2:00 pm. With a half-life of six to eight hours, stopping by 2:00 pm will ensure that caffeine will not rob you of both quality and quantity sleep.
3. Stop alcohol within three hours of bedtime. This ensures that an enjoyable glass of wine or two at dinner will not keep you from the deep stages of physically restorative sleep.
4. Exercise daily, but be careful not to exercise too close to your bedtime. For some it can make falling asleep difficult.

5. Get 15 minutes of sunlight each morning, this helps reset your circadian clock, and keep quality sleep abundant.

Dr Yiong ChiatWong adds, “Apart from the above tips to help you drift off to sleep, taking a non-addictive Melatonin sleep supplement to supplement your body’s melatonin levels, can support your good night’s rest by helping you to fall asleep fast without next-day drowsiness.” Usage of digital devices at night is known to suppress Melatonin, the key body substance for regulating sleep. About 80% of melatonin is produced and secreted by our body at night to help us get to sleep. Just 2 hours of device usage can reduce up to 40% reduction of Melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep.

Furthermore, steam inhalation with mint leaves and ajwain decocted water opens up the airways, especially in cases of Sleep apnea and helps with better sleep.

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