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Losing sleep? Blame it on the job!

Long working hours and watching TV at night are leading to insomnia among Indians, say experts.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 04, 2008 06:54 PM IST

It's been a hard day's night, you should be sleeping like a log. Not quite. Long working hours and watching TV at night are leading to insomnia among Indians, say experts.

"Nearly 10 per cent of Indians are suffering from the sleep disorder and the problem is increasing," said Garima Shukla, a neurologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

Incidentally, the first week of April is observed as the insomnia week in several c, lifesountries.

Said Shukla: "Our young generation and even schoolgoing teenagers are falling victim to insomnia. Long working hours, watching TV and surfing the internet are the leading causes of this problem.

"There is at least a 50 per cent increase in patient flow. Pressure in the work field, changing socio-cultural problems, lack of emotional support are the other reasons why people are losing sleep," Shukla told IANS.

"These days, youngsters are sleeping for just two or three hours while their body metabolism asks for longer sleep hours. Psychiatric problems like fear of failure, of losing one's near and dear ones are adding fuel to the sleep disorder problem," she said.

Manvir Bhatia, a neurologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said she is getting a lot of patients aged below 40.

"Earlier, I used to get one or two patients per week but currently, the number has gone up to 20. Office pressure, habits like watching TV are causing the sleep disorder," Bhatia said.

"Fewer number of sleeping hours are leading to a problem called sleep debt. And accumulation of this debt leads to stress, blood pressure and many other health problems," she said.

According to medical literature, insomnia is 1.5 times more prevalent in adults over 65 years of age than in other adults. Women are more likely to report insomnia than men.

However, Bhatia said, in urban India it's the young population, mainly working groups, who are facing the heat.

"Yes, women are more prone to this problem. Women who are working as well as doing their domestic work are more likely to develop sleep disorder.

"The problem is insomnia can change human metabolism and some chronic patients are developing obesity and diabetic problem. Our body follows a clock and any disruption in that can cause problem," Bhatia said.

She said many call centre employees are showing signs of acute insomnia as they work night shifts.

Shukla said crumbling family values and the desire to succeed at any cost are creating a lot of problems for youngsters. "Those (youngsters) in metropolitan cities have developed a false sense of confidence. They are working hard, staying without much family support and earning well but at the cost of a peaceful life," said Shukla.

Confirming the fear expressed by experts, many young professionals said they could not sleep properly at night. A few said they were relying on sleeping pills.

"Yes, I stay in office for more than 12 hours. And it has started taking a toll - I cannot sleep at least till 3 am at night," said Sahil Arora, a media person.

Shradha Sharma, a BPO employee, said: "I am working at night and sleeping at day time. And for the last few months, I have been losing sleep. There is a lot of stress and am taking a medium dose sleeping pill to get sound sleep."

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