Insomniac Delhiites, who perhaps only dream of a good night’s sleep, are now buying sound sleep on a platter or should we say a four-poster bed? They are heading to sleep clinics in hordes, the ever-mushrooming state-of-the-art clinics that are offering solutions that kick in sleep. No, sleepless patients are not being drugged to sleep. Instead, their sleep patterns, or rather the lack of them, are being studied clinically, and the problems addressed and redressed by experienced somnologists.
Once an appointment is sought at one of these sleep clinics, the patient is expected to take a sleep test - called polysomnography - which can make a slight dent in one’s pocket. The electrical activity of the brain, oxygen level and heart rhythm is studied and he is prescribed medications accordingly.
The patient may think he has been transported to an alien world when he is plugged with electrodes to record his sleeping patterns, his heartbeat and, yes, his snoring. Each of these is vital indicators that are telling of his inability to sleep.
While this test can take up to a few hours and is carried out in a clinic by a technician, it can also be run at home if one has a sleep recording device. Vitals such as EEG (brain activity), ECG (heart activity), EOG (eye movements), EMG (chin, leg and arm muscle activity), airflow, snoring, pulse rate, blood oxygenation and chest wall movements are studied through this test.
That snoring is a sign of an individual in deep sleep is the biggest myth of Indian society. Snoring is a known symptom of sleep apnoea and should not be ignored.
Sleep disorders are not restricted to any particular strata of our society. As many as 93 percent Indians suffer from sleep deprivation, with 11 per cent falling asleep at work and 87 per cent agreeing that lack of sleep is taking a toll on their health.
Contrary to popular belief sleep deprivation is not linked to stress alone and could be due to an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, lipid abnormalities or heart ailments. Though it can surely be a manifestation of psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.
Given people’s lifestyles, work patterns and also lifestyle-related diseases – a result of living in the fast lane or the FOMO syndrome – the number of sleepless is steadily spiraling northwards. Incidentally, studies show that men are prone to more sleep disorders than women.
So if a person is experiencing difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep, is experiencing excessive snoring or breathing difficulty during sleep, or is sleepy during the day despite having slept for several hours it’s time to knock at a sleep clinic.
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