Doctors at sleep clinics in major hospitals said that increasingly patients attending outpatient clinics are now reporting sleep problems or on interview doctors find them to have sleep-related problems.
“Sleep issues not only leave a person fatigued but it can also lead to hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. Poor sleep can also lead to anxiety, depression and mood changes and decreased sexual interests,” said neurologist at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences Dr R Sureshkumar, who is also a part of the hospital’s sleep clinic.
A psychiatrist at Thrissur Medical College Dr KS Shaji: “If someone is having a persistent problem with sleep then we suspect either psychiatric illness like depression or physical illness.”
Doctors said that the main reason for a sleep disorder is a change in lifestyle with people becoming so busy that they have no time to rest or relax. Though most adults require 8 to 10 hrs of sleep, a majority who complain about the lack of sleep end up with 6 hrs or less, which is inadequate. Stress is another factor, both physical and mental stress are more among people as they live a fastpaced life, they said.
“Though there are no studies on this, from what we see in our OP, most people complain of sleep disorder as they follow poor sleep hygiene. Contributing factors are stress, irregular work timings and night shift,” said Dr Sapna Sreedharan, sleep clinic, Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology.
Doctors at sleep clinics said that they do come across patients who are on sleeping pills for a long period of time. Inappropriate use of sleeping pills for a long time can cause insomnia. The problem is more common among the elderly.
“This is because many are alone and insecure as their children work in faraway places and whenever they have health issues it leaves them stressed. Also, loneliness influences their sleep,” said Dr Suresh.
So, doctors are recommending changes in lifestyle and asking patients to take up relaxation therapies, yoga, besides change in sleep habits and cognitive behaviour therapies.