Sound sleep seems to be eternally missing from the eyes of millennial India. In fact, according to a 2014 Nielsen survey, sleep disorders plagued 93% of the people living in cities, with 87% agreeing that a lack of sleep is taking a toll on their health.
Sleep, as experienced in everyday life and substantiated by scientists, is the best rejuvenator for our body. Certain segments in the brain, which carry out the repair and restoration of the body's processes, are at their most active when we are asleep. However, due to an imbalanced lifestyle, lack of physical activity, stress, the evolution of 'binge watching' TV shows and movies, and an idolisation of celebrities and achievers who, according to the words of Thomas A Edison, consider sleep to be a 'criminal waste of time', urban India has been having some serious trouble sleeping.
Sleep disorders are one of the most overlooked problems afflicting a significant section of the Indian population. Lack of sleep causes problems such as sleep apnoea, which creates obstacles in breathing leading to reduction in flow of oxygen to the brain.
Although a malady that is largely ignored, sleep apnoea can be the precursor for a plethora of other grave conditions such as heart diseases and complications in the respiratory tract.
In fact, various sleep labs have been established all over the country to look into the ill-effects sleep deprivation can have on the body. Till date, more than 80 kinds of sleep disorders have been identified, ranging from insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking etc. Forgetful behaviour, a common grouse of most young Indians, also finds its roots in this disorder.
Why are we not sleeping?
It is no secret that urban India's greatest folly is unhealthy lifestyle. Long hours at the desk combined with excessive use of electronic devices and poor eating habits have compounded obesity and sleep disorders.
Young India, with its 'always online' motto, is ready to compromise on sleep to respond to WhatsApp or Facebook notifications or catch the latest season of their favourite shows on their cellphone. The cumulative effect of these three factors has essentially tag-teamed to keep Indians from a peaceful slumber.
A potent solution
Normal sleep can be divided into two categories - four to five hours of core sleep, which includes the non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) part and the rest consists of gradual, slow-wave sleep. It has been noted that in most cases, the first 15 minutes to one hour after a person hits the bed is crucial in determining the quality of sleep he or she gets. This is where various sleep products come into the picture.
Estimated to be a USD 80.8 billion dollar industry by 2020 globally, several products such as anti-snoring devices, throat sprays, noise reducers, sleep masks etc. have facilitated people to get a good night's rest. Of these, however, the most popular products are mattresses. We are gradually realising the importance of what lies beneath us, on how well we sleep. Mattress manufacturers have introduced different products to give consumers enough choices. Memory foam mattresses are the latest find. Essentially, memory foam mattresses comprise polyurethane, which takes the shape of the body, providing optimal support to the spine and all the major pressure points, thereby providing complete comfort for the night.
The effects of sleep deprivation are evident all across the world, ranging from body aches and uneasiness after a night of troubled sleep to cases of accidents, memory loss and psychotic behaviour due to utter sleep deprivation. With the fast-pace of urban life, it is essential that we make sleep a priority, to improve our quality of living and wake up to a world full of possibilities, with the desire and energy to realise them.
(The author is founder & CEO, Wakefit)