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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

Here's how to lose stress, not sleep

Debasmita Ghosh Debasmita Ghosh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 12, 2012
First Published: 17:41 IST(12/9/2012) | Last Updated: 11:46 IST(13/9/2012)

Do you keep staring in the dark even on days you are tired and waiting to hit the bed? Are you turning obese, suffering from frequent indigestion and often getting up in the morning with dark circles under your eyes? If your answer to all these questions is yes, then you are one among about one fifth of Asians, who are suffering from one of the worst side-effects of modern day lifestyles — insomnia. A recent survey among urban men and women living in South Africa and Asian countries, including India, revealed that about 17% of adults in Africa and Asia suffer from insomnia. The study, conducted by the Warwick Medical School in UK, revealed that the most common causes of insomnia are psychiatric conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety.
How much sleep is enough?

While a minimum of seven hours of sleep is necessary for adults, they end up sleeping for hardly five hours, and thereby, their sleep cycle gets disrupted. The reasons behind this are many. “Carrying work back home, surfing the net till late night and social networking addiction keeps people awake till wee hours. They never get enough sleep,” says Dr MS Kanwar, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. “Severe competition at workplace and inability to spent time with family due to demanding work schedules also causes anxiety and stress, leading to depression, which causes insomnia,” he adds.

Work shifts and sleep:
Work shifts also influence sleep. It’s sometimes difficult for people who have been working in a day shift to suddenly change their routine and work at night and sleep during the day. Working late night shifts also make your meal times go completely off schedule, leading to many health issues including gastrointestinal problems, blood pressure, and insomnia in the long run. “If you work nights and sleep days, you may find yourself eating breakfast when everyone else at home is having dinner. Also, your dinner time will be very late at night, causing you to pack on extra weight. Adjust your meal times to avoid such late night calories,” says Dr Shipra Shaklani Mishra of Fortis La Femme.

Discipline is the key:
Make the room’s environment conducive to sleep. There should be no disturbance in the room such as television or strong lights.
Switch off your mobile phone and keep your laptop away during bedtime. You could play soothing music to relax.
Put heavy curtains in your bedroom so that you don’t get up early in the morning due to strong sunlight.
Don’t pop in sleeping pills or a peg of alcohol to induce sleep. These may give you short-term relief but make you dependent on them in the long run.

Night shifters’:
diet routine-Following the right diet plan is most important to achieve a healthy sleep pattern, especially if you work on a night shift. Here’s the routine that you can follow:

Have your dinner before beginning the shift, at 7pm or 8pm instead of late in the night, especially after 12. Avoid fatty, greasy and spicy foods at night to avoid indigestion. Eat light between 10pm and 6am. Avoid full meals. To kill late night hunger pangs, reach for foods high in carbohydrates and protein, but low in sugar and fat.
Eat a diet high in fiber with lots of whole-grain bread and cereal, nuts, dried peas and beans, fruits and vegetables.
People working in night shifts often skip breakfast and have a late lunch instead, followed by dinner, later. Don’t skip your meals; three meals a day is a must for all. Space your meals no more than four to five hours apart. 
 
(With inputs from Dr Shipra Shaklani Mishra)


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