Why sleep hygiene is a pressing issue

A new survey shows that this year only 27% of people are satisfied with the quantity and quality of their sleep

From social media memes to increasing advertisements for sleep supplements, disrupted sleep has become a shared frustration among many people worldwide. Now, a new study by digital healthcare company ResMed shows that this year more people are struggling with sleep issues. In 2023, 84% of people said they were satisfied with the quantity and quality of their sleep. Alarmingly, in 2024, the number has significantly reduced to 27%, the findings revealed.

The 2024 ResMed Sleep Survey by ResMed shows that people across the world are sleeping for only 6.8 hours on average, indicating a pressing need to address sleep health. The survey, which included 36,000 respondents from 17 countries, emphasised that there is an unrecognized sleep health crisis.

Among the 5,000 Indian respondents who participated, the survey found that while 44% considered 8 to 9 hours of sleep as good for health, only 29% of them followed through. One of the main reasons cited for insufficient sleep is anxiety (29%), followed by obesity (16%) and breathing difficulties (15%). Breathing difficulties affect the sleep habits of 22% of Indians who have a history of sleep apnea, a condition wherein breathing stops and restarts many times while asleep.

Although about half of the respondents (48%) have started or are due to begin treatment for sleep apnea, 32% haven’t sought any help yet. Beyond sleep apnea, more than half of respondents hadn’t consulted a physician for any of their sleep issues even though almost 70% consider doctors as a reliable source of information.

Another survey, The Great Indian Sleep Scorecard (GISS) 2024, by sleep solutions provider Wakefit shows that disrupted sleep has become common, with 88% of people waking up multiple times during the night. Furthermore, 1 in 4 Indians believe they have insomnia because of their inability to sleep well. The survey involved responses from 2.5 lakh Indians collected across 7 years, and over 10,000 responses this year.

The top cause of disrupted sleep in India is work-related stress, with 42% citing it as what keeps them up at night, the ResMed survey explained. Almost 90% of respondents, who have a history of sleep apnea, agreed that adequate sleep is crucial to general well-being, and in turn, productivity.

Social media and OTTs are also keeping people up at night, with 54% of Indians citing it as a reason, the GISS survey highlights. About 90% of people also reported using their phones just before bedtime.

Notably, the GISS revealed 20% more women reported feeling tired in the morning compared to men. This could well be attributed to 9% more women revealing that they stayed awake well past their ideal bedtime. Furthermore, the survey highlighted a 50% higher incidence of women waking up more than three times at night compared to men.

Future uncertainties are one of the main reasons that keep women up at night, indicating the gendered impact of stress and daily struggles.

Lack of sleep can not only become the cause of well-known impact on heart, and mood, it can also lead to memory issues. A January 2024 study published in the journal Neurology, Association Between Sleep Quantity and Quality in Early Adulthood With Cognitive Function in Midlife, showed that people who have disrupted sleep in their 30s and 40s may be more likely to have memory and thinking problems a decade later.

“Our survey results underscore a pressing demand for more awareness and education on comprehensive sleep health,” Sibasish Dey of ResMed said in a statement. Dey also recommends a greater focus on creating awareness and testing for sleep disorders.” 

As an additional course of action, sleep health should be advocated for and included in policies to provide it the importance and due consideration it requires in Indian healthcare, he adds.

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