World Sleep Day 2022: Here’s how you can beat insomnia and have a sound sleep

World Sleep Day is observed annually with an aim to raise awareness and call to action on important issues related to sleep — including medicine, education, social aspects and driving. Organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society, it aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.

Every year, it is held on the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox. This year, the theme and slogan of the day is ‘Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World’.

One of the biggest issues related to sleep faced by many is insomnia. The condition has only worsened post-Covid as an increasing number of people complained of trouble falling asleep. Explaining the effect of age on sleep patterns, Dr H P Bharathi, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, said, “Insomnia is a common complaint among older people. They have trouble falling asleep and prolonged or frequent nocturnal or early morning awakenings with an inability to return to sleep quickly. Age has its effects on sleep architecture.”

“Human sleep architecture is defined by polysomnography (PSG) and divided into different stages: Four stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and one stage of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. Compared to young people, PSG- defined sleep architecture in older people is deranged, resulting in increased amounts of nocturnal wakefulness. Other than changes in sleep architecture, there are also changes in the circadian rhythm of body temperature in older people compared to younger ones. All these can have a significant impact on sleep quality,” he added.

Dr Animesh Arya, Senior Consultant- Respiratory Medicine and Sleep Disorder Specialist, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute said insomnia can lead to “anxiety, depression and use of certain unwanted psychotropic medications which may further complicate insomnia”. “This sleep disorder usually then may affect physical well being and people could have serious health risks associated with insomnia.”

Effective ways to beat insomnia

Here are some ways to cure insomnia and have a good night’s sleep, as suggested by the experts.

*Lifestyle changes such as optimising the diet, sleep hygiene and the environment, removing stimulants, creating routines and increasing the amount of physical activity are known to be beneficial.

*Create a peaceful sleeping environment around you without blue light.

*Cutting down the use of caffeine may help in having sound sleep.

*The microbial imbalance is addressed via better clinical nutrition, including fermented foods and probiotics.

*Psychological factors such as anxiety, depression and stress need to be addressed.

*Behavioral medicine practices including breathing techniques, meditation, and mindfulness in conjunction with botanical medicine, including L-theanine, GABA, passionflower, and adaptogens like ashwagandha have been shown to be effective at addressing insomnia.

*If there is a hormonal imbalance, nutraceuticals such as glycine, melatonin, and tryptophan will help address the problem.

*Acupuncture is another alternative medicine system that has proven to be effective at treating insomnia. Stimulating specific points in the body can have sedating and analgesic effects through the release of opioid peptides.

“Research has also found that acupuncture is effective at treating insomnia stemming from mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. A case study found that 500 schizophrenic patients reported an improvement in their sleep pattern after acupuncture sessions,” Dr Bharathi shared.

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