As per a sleep study by scientists from a Canadian university, an individual requires about 7-8 hours of daily sleep to produce peak cognitive performance. The brain consolidates memories and processes information during the sleep window. Sleep helps remove toxins in the brain, while the body repairs itself. A sleep deficit or non healthy sleep cycles can lead to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, early ageing and increase your risk for cancer.

Do Indians Have Healthy Sleep Cycles?

About 93 percent of Indians suffer from sleep deprivation, according to a 2015 study by a consumer conglomerate. In a survey in 2018 by Philips, Indians cited technology and irregular work hours as the main reasons for their lack of sleep. In the 2015 study, they reported that poor sleep quality results in lower productivity and affects family relationships.

It also revealed that 87 percent of Indians say low sleep affects health and about 14 percent of Indians snore as loud as or louder than talking. Snoring is often perceived as natural or hereditary by most Indians, and is not taken seriously. What’s alarming is that only two percent of Indians actually discuss their sleep issues with a physician. Sleep debt, food habits and lack of exercise can lead to disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia among Indians. Sleep disorders can also result in other ailments like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

Solutions and Treatments for Healthy Sleep Cycles

Sleep disorders are of three main types: insomnia, hypersomnia, and parasomnia. In India, there is a diagnosis and knowledge gap in sleep disorders. Testing these disorders is a challenge due to a deficit in trained technicians and sleep specialists. (People from various specialties can be sleep specialists in India, and MBBS students don’t learn about it on a basic level. )

Treatment is another hurdle as the number of trained physicians in India is low and they are not adequately trained to treat sleep disorders. Patients are treated based on the type of sleep disorder. For instance, if a patient is diagnosed with insomnia, they are treated using CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or sleep sedatives more commonly known as sleeping pills.

If a patient suffers from sleep apnea, they can opt for air blower devices like CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices that help open up breathing passages. The latest advancements to treat sleep apnea include implantable devices that can be controlled by a remote. Surgical treatments are also available for sleep apnea patients when non-invasive treatments don’t work. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can result in further complications. So, with sizeable staff and requisite training, sleep disorders can be identified and treated successfully.

Sleep Labs and Need For More Specialists

Sleep has become an important topic in the health industry and many companies have incorporated sleep measurement in their devices. Sleep issues among Indians have led to the emergence of many sleep labs in the country. Around 500 sleep labs are now available in India to treat those affected by sleep deficit disorders. Many sleep specialists in India have trained abroad and are exposed to relevant medical curriculum like their Western counterparts. Some institutes are also offering diploma courses for budding sleep specialists. Hospitals are also equipped with sleep labs that have medical specialists to diagnose and treat those with sleep issues/disorders. However, there is a need for many more sleep specialists, home sleep test companies and sleep labs to cater to the population in India.