Why in news:

  • An article published recently, which summarised all available Indian data, if sub-threshold insomnia is also included, said an estimated 45 per cent of people may be suffering from insomnia.

About Insomnia:

  • Insomnia means difficulty in initiating sleep or in maintaining sleep due to awakenings with further difficulty falling back to sleep with each awakening, resulting in prolonged periods of wakefulness in bed.
  • This is reflected in reduced total sleep duration despite adequate opportunity to sleep.
  • This is in comparison to a person’s previous sleep pattern, and when a person is lying down in bed in similar conditions as before.
  • Sleep should not be considered as rest and one should not be advised to cut down on the usual sleep persistently.
  • The electrical activity recordings that are in the form of waves from electrodes placed on the head coming from the brain during sleep suggests it is active.

Phases in sleep:

  • Sleep has two different phases, called non-REM Sleep and REM Sleep phases that alternate through the night, and have their characteristic wave patterns.
  • The cumulative amount of time spent in both nonREM and REM sleep phases during the night is the total sleep duration.
  • The proportion of this total sleep duration out of the total time spent in bed is called sleep efficiency, which must be close to 100 per cent.
  • Quality of sleep is judged based on the sleep efficiency and proportion of time spent in different phases of sleep.
  • Adults may require between 7-8 hours of sleep whereas with age the need comes down, and for older people 6-7 hours may be enough.

Types of Insomnia:

  • Insomnia occurring three times in a week, for up to three months’ duration is called short term insomnia.
  • If it is more than three months, then it is called chronic insomnia.

Implications of low sleep:

  • Sleep-deprived individuals have difficulty in concentrating, are irritable and even experience migraine- like headaches the following day.
  • Their work performance may also come down.
  • Some may have felt something called “Brain Fog”, where they had difficulty in concentrating, remembering and making decisions
  • Also a person is seen having fluctuations in emotions, and is described as grumpy and cranky.
  • It has been found that lack of adequate sleep affects the hormones controlling stress and hunger, resulting in increased stress levels.
  • This leads to weight gain, which in turn means higher risk of diabetes, hypertension and other heart related conditions.

Furthermore, there can be difficulty in digestion, reduced appetite and impacts on the immune system, resulting in repeated infections.

Syllabus: Prelims + Mains; GS3 – Health