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     One of the city’s foremost specialists speaks to us on the importance of dozing off.

    Here’s a familiar pattern: crawling into bed after a long day at work, only to browse the internet for hours. And the next day will see us groggy, irritable and lazy. But how much sleep is enough? On World Sleep Day—which falls today and aims to create awareness about the social, educational and medicinal aspects of sleep-based disorders—we speak to city-based Dr N Ramakrishnan, director of Nithra Institute of Sleep Sciences, to find out more:

    Switching off
    The World Health Organisation believes  sleep-related problems will be the next epidemic among non-communicable diseases, like cancer and heart disease. People need to respect the fact that sleep is just as important as eating well, as it affects your mental and physical well-being (think obesity and sleep apnea).

    Matter of quality
    A sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes and, in this time, the body will traverse from light sleep (stage one) to deep sleep (stage four) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Unless our body undergoes at least four such cycles, we’ll experience hormonal changes and become irritable. Ideally, adults need seven to eight hours of continuous sleep, but nowadays practical figures reflect six to eight hours.

    The diagnosis
    At Nithra, we do a Polysomnogram or sleep study in a sleep lab. We monitor brain waves, breathing pattern, oxygen saturation and the like. For those with common disorders like sleep apnea, we use a portable test as it monitors only breathing, oxygen levels and heart rate. We also employ an actigraph—which resembles the popular FitBit device—for people working with the IT/BPO sectors, to records how many hours of sleep they get each day.

    Patient demographic
    Besides IT/BPO sector employees, an alarming change is the increasing number of school children who are experiencing sleep disorders, due to a lack of physical exercise. Details: 43502252

    —Anoop Menon

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