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Are you suffering from insomnia?

December 14, 2005 18:52 IST

According to psychiatrists, insomnia is an increasing problem in the metros. They blame it on job-related stress, competition, financial insecurities and the constant need to earn more.

Dr Hansal Bachech, consultant psychiatrist and member, Mental Health Authority, Gujarat, says, "I have noticed a sudden spurt in cases of sleep disorders in the last few months, most of which are related to lifestyle."

He adds that while there are several types of insomnia, they broadly fall in two categories -- the 35-plus that crave sleep but cannot get it, and youngsters who postpone sleep for various reasons and then realise they cannot sleep even when they want to because their body clock has been disturbed. "Cases of insomnia are seen more among those working in the private sector, especially in sales and marketing departments where targets have to be met. Sectors like pharmaceuticals and BPOs also trigger high stress levels among employees," says the doctor.

Apparently, even those addicted to watching late night TV with emotive content or crime shows exhibit marked symptoms of sleep deprivation. Parents of children studying in classes X and XII fall into another group suffering from disturbed sleep cycles. This is a serious issue, considering a report in the American Journal Of Respiratory And Critical Medicine says individuals who suffer from sleep disorders are more prone to strokes.

The quality of sleep is determined by doctors using an instrument known as polysomnography. Multiple tests are performed on patients using the instrument, which measures EEG for sleep stages and arousability, and monitors respiratory parameters. The frequent movement of limbs may also indicate a sleep disorder called Periodic Limb Movement.

According to Dr Bachech, treatment involves re-scheduling the patient's sleep pattern. "We call it restoring sleep hygiene. This involves making the patient relax, then using medicine to induce sleep. In many cases, medicines are not needed at all."

Prevention is still the best thing, of course, and the best way to beat insomnia is to avoid late night parties and TV and practise yoga or relaxation exercises for a few minutes instead.

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Chandran Iyer