About one-third of the people in the world suffer from sleep disorders, which are mainly caused by a sedentary lifestyle, medical experts said. Sleep reduction causes insulin resistance leading to obesity, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory disorders. King George's Medical University (KGMU) Vice Chancellor Lt Gen Bipin Puri said, "These can be prevented by a healthy diet, 15-20 minutes exercise, and leaving electronic gadgets two hours before going to sleep. Drugs are needed in extreme cases."
He said, "If you are not able to sleep for at least five hours at a stretch in a day or have disrupted sleep patterns for more than three weeks, it could be insomnia or sleep apnea, which if ignored, could cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression or anxiety and loss of concentration." He said that while an adult needs around seven hours of sound sleep daily, a new-born must sleep for 18 hours and children up to six years for 12 hours.
Prof Ved Prakash, head of respiratory critical care medicine, KGMU, who is in charge of the comprehensive sleep centre, said, "Extended shifts, prolonged exposure to light, stress, anxiety, addiction to alcohol, caffeinated drinks and smoking, are the main reasons adversely affecting the body clock in adults."
He said that the modern lifestyle does not give enough time to the body to relax and recharge itself, which leads to decreased secretion of neurotransmitters-serotonin and dopamine - which play a vital role in sleep quality.
"Actually, the brain needs serotonin to make melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle while dopamine makes us happy. When both are secreted in reduced amount, they cause disruption in sleep and anxiety," he said.
Faculty at the Physiology Department, KGMU, Prof Narsingh Verma, said that light exposure also reduces the sleep of new-borns and children which adversely impacts the physical strength of children as the growth hormone secretes less.
He said that a person facing sleep issues should take a balanced diet which is rich in green vegetables, fruits and sprouts as they have micronutrients and vitamins. While vitamin C is often associated with immunity, study after study has shown that vitamin C plays a powerful role in sleep quality.
Besides, Zinc. Melatonin, Selenium, Calcium help regulate biological processes, he added.
He also advised 15-20 minutes of exercise and leaving electronic gadgets two hours before going to sleep. If someone is not able to sleep even after making lifestyle changes, medical advice must be sought.