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How good is your sleep performance?
- Dr. N. Ramakrishnan

August 26, 2016

Performing artists are always focused on ensuring their best performance every time, all the time. This often entails long hours of practice and compromised sleep patterns. A good night's sleep is essential for a good day and a brief reality check on your sleep wellness would go a long way.
• Do you feel your sleep is adequate?
• Do you wake up feeling fresh?
• Do you feel fatigued or sleepy during the day?
• Is your sleep pattern fragmented? (i.e do you wake up several times at night?)
• Are you told that you snore?

If you answered yes to any of the above it would be best to discuss your issues with a specialist.

How much sleep is good enough?
Medical research confirms that average sleep time in early 1900s was approximately 8-9 hours, in mid 20th century around 7-7.5 hours and reduced to only 6-6.5 hours in the 21st century! Although there may be significant variation in what individuals consider adequate sleep, average adult's requirement is 6 to 8 hours. With changing lifestyle, all of us have prolonged travel time and work hours and unfortunately stretch further by carrying work home. This affects not only our sleep time but overall health and wellness.

Why is sleep important?
Sleep impacts various physiological processes in our body and is not just a time to rest. Insufficient sleep may, therefore, have various ill effects on our health. We add to our ‘sleep debt' every time we deprive ourselves of optimal sleep. Habits like ‘catching up' over weekend do not have the same effect as adequate sleep on a regular basis.

India is emerging as a ‘diabetic capital' of the world which would also mean increased incidence of heart problems. We often fail to recognize that sleep problems are a common link that could lead to poor control of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and stroke. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to anxiety, irritability, memory loss, depression and other psychosocial problems

What are some common sleep problems?
Common symptoms and problems for which Sleep Medicine specialists are consulted include
  • ‘I have trouble sleeping' (Insomnia)
  • ‘I sleep adequately but don't feel fresh' (Non-refreshing sleep)
  • ‘I can't sleep without sleep medications' (Medication dependence)
  • ‘I feel tired and sleepy during the day' (Daytime somnolence or Hypersomnolence)
  • ‘I am told that I snore and wake up sometimes with a groaning noise and a sense of choking. Apparently, I sometimes stop breathing which I am not aware of' (Sleep Apnea). This is one of the most common reasons for feeling sleepy and tired during the day and can lead to sleeping and accidents while at work or driving!
  • ‘I sleep very late but also wake up very late' or ‘I work night shifts and cannot sleep during the day' (Circadian Rhythm Disturbances)
  • ‘I feel like moving my legs and have an uncomfortable feeling. Apparently jerk my legs a lot during sleep' (Restless legs)
  • ‘I am told I walk/talk/eat/scream/cry during sleep" (Parasomnias)
The list may appear and long, but guess what? It is estimated that over 50% of adults experience sleep problems but only 5 to 10% seek medical attention!

What are some general measures to prevent sleep problems?
Follow appropriate ‘sleep hygiene' measures to have a better sleep which in turn enhances good health and productivity
  • Keep regular bedtime hours
  • Ensure that your sleep environment is appropriate and comfortable
  • Train your mind and body to identify bed with sleep and intimacy with bed partner
  • Avoid stimulants (coffee, tea, chocolate, nicotine) for at least 4-5 hours before bedtime. Remember alcohol may feel like it is soothing you, but all it does is stupefying and does not provide good quality sleep
  • Avoid sleeping with a full stomach
  • Be active during the day. Ensure routine exercise habits
  • Use relaxation techniques and unwind before sleeping
A commitment to health and wellness should include a commitment to good sleep. Remember sleep problems are treatable and specialist help is available to treat the problem early and prevent complications.

Dr. N. Ramakrishnan AB (Int Med), AB (Crit Care), AB (Sleep Medicine), MMM, FACP, FCCP, FCCM is the founder and director of Nithra Institute of Sleep Sciences, India's first free outstanding comprehensive center for Education, Training, Diagnostic and Treatment for sleep related problems. He is also the Senior Consultant, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Apollo Hospitals.
Ph: (044) - 43502252/ email: / website:

Excellent article about sleep!
Also consider knowing more about Yoga for sleep apnea (an sleep disorder)
- Nandhini (Aug 24, 2019)

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