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World Sleep Day: UAE witnesses upsurge in sleep disorders since pandemic

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 18, 2021 | Last updated on March 18, 2021 at 09.47 pm
Reuters

Roughly 10 per cent of the UAE population has serious sleep issues.

Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Has the pandemic-related stresses and work from home made it harder to get health-enhancing, restful sleep? You are not alone. Sleep experts and doctors have said many people suffer from different sleep problems with resultant poor-quality sleep in the UAE.

“Roughly 10 per cent of the UAE population has serious sleep issues while almost 50 per cent have some other sleep issues,” stated Dr Shaju George, a specialist psychiatrist at the Dubai Community Health Centre, Oud Metha.

“We have seen an upsurge in sleep problems during this pandemic period and working from home made the situations worse since office hours were extending beyond usual regular fixed hours,” he explained.

Dr Supriya Sundaram, a sleep specialist and consultant pulmonologist at Burjeel Hospital, also said she had noticed different sleep issues among UAE residents. “Apart from the regular issues, sleep patterns have changed significantly during the pandemic. The pandemic and related restrictions have increased the stress levels among many of us. Concerns of getting infected, financial issues, and day-to-day stresses have caused considerable changes in sleep patterns as worries and anxieties affect sleep,” she said.

Dr George said, “We have seen an upsurge in sleep problems during this pandemic period and working from home made the situations worse since office hours were extending beyond usual regular fixed hours.”

According to Dr George, sleep is shallow in the list of priorities for UAE residents. “They sleep less and sleep late. A good sleep is a real blessing. If you can wake up fresh after six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, it helps you to restore your body after a daylong physical and mental exhaustion,” he explained.

Does sleep tracking help?

As sleep-related issues become increasingly critical, many people are turning to technology for a solution by using apps and sleep tracking devices to monitor their sleep. Sleep apps on devices help users create customised bedtime schedules to meet their sleep goals. Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of technology, said: “There could be anxiety that people have about going to sleep, and that anxiety itself can cause more problems in terms of going to sleep. One philosophy that we’ve used across many of Apple Watch features is to reinforce positive behaviour.

“Many people are already well aware that they haven’t been getting enough sleep, and so we’re not adding to that, but we are positively acknowledging when you have achieved your goals.”

Lynch said people it challenging to coach themselves to have more or fewer REM stages. “We felt like that wasn’t the best way Apple could add value here on sleep. We focused on the transition to the bed, which we think is way more actionable and will result in people getting a better night’s sleep, which then has secondary effects of perhaps your REM stages sorting themselves,” he explained.

“It’s really about getting enough sleep, and the main thing about that is the difficulty of going to bed. There are so many things in the world to distract us and occupy our attention. Supporting people in managing that transition is where the magic is,” said

Tips to regularise sleep patterns

> Maintaining good sleep hygiene is the most important thing

> Having a fixed sleep and waking up time is very important since it helps to set the biological clock

> Avoid stimulants and heavy meal, especially in the evening

> Having moderate exercise two to three hours before the usual sleep time

> Taking a glass of milk and banana

> Maintaining adequate lighting and the temperature in the bedroom

> Avoid using gadgets at least one hour before going to bed

GOT SLEEP ISSUES, SEEK HELP

1-Those with sleep issues have to undergo behavioural therapy. Sleep at a right time and awake at right time. They have to train themselves to do that. Go back to a certain pattern. The parents should ensure children sleep at right time.

2-Unless it is prescribed by a psychiatrist medication is not advised.

3-There may be a genuine reason for multiple awakenings at night like sleep apnea and other issues. The persons with these disorders should visit a sleep specialist and undergo sleep studies.

Source: Dr Supriya Sundaram, a sleep specialist and consultant pulmonologist at Burjeel Hospital

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88





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