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Cannot sleep at night? It could be anxomnia, say sleep experts

Doctors say the first stage in a normal sleep cycle is alpha, which is a relaxed but alert stage.

Published: 12th March 2019 07:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th March 2019 07:36 AM   |  A+A-

Sleep

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Psychologists, psychiatrists and sleep experts are now seeing a surge in cases of ‘anxomnia,’ where people find it difficult to fall asleep due to extreme anxiety about issues related to health, money and career. One of the biggest triggers of anxiety is also sleepless nights.“There is a rise in number of cases of people losing sleep due to anxiety. It is caused by increased exposure to anxiogenic (anxiety-provoking) material for young adults, such as emails, texts from work, social media responses, and even news on hand-held devices,” said Dr Himani Kashyap, assistant professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS.

Doctors say the first stage in a normal sleep cycle is alpha, which is a relaxed but alert stage. Slowly, as one continues to relax, one falls asleep. However, anxiety, particularly in the form of worrying thoughts, prevents one from relaxing enough to enter the first stage of sleep. 

“Most of us can testify to this when we wake at 4am, fretting not just about money, job security, aging, illness, relationships and family, but also about how much sleep we have had and how much more we can manage before the alarm goes off. We then wake up exhausted and remember something we read on Twitter about how getting less than six hours a night can bring in loads of diseases,” said clinical psychologist Dr Ashwini A.

Dr Pavana Rao, clinical psychologist, Apollo Clinics, said changes in lifestyle and eating habits are taking a toll on sleep. “The three pillars of health are sleep, exercise and nutrition, which go hand-in-hand for one’s overall well-being. Prolonged sleep disorders have serious implications on health with irreversible ailments.” 

Sleep experts suggest that physical activity is the best solution for this new kind of insomnia. “Run away from it, literally. Exercising takes you away from worries and helps you work off that ‘nervous energy’. Any sustained exercise can also release brain chemicals that counteract it,” explained sleep expert Dr Vinod Kumar.

“Along with adequate sleep, equally important is the posture of sleep, which has a direct bearing on the quality of sleep,” said Dr Praveen Basagoudar, senior consultant, Joint Replacement, Orthopaedic, Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery. “Often, improper sleep position causes aches and pains, especially spinal pains, which impact sleep quality. If not checked and corrected, this triggers a chain reaction of several ailments.”


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