Chhimi Dema 

The lockdown has changed the sleeping pattern for many. Most remain awake late into the night browsing online, watching television or playing games on phones.

A private employee, Yeshey Choden, said that she tried to sleep and rise early. “It is a futile attempt. I end up playing Ludo online and wake up in the afternoon the next day.”

A mother two, Tandin Zangmo said that she has been sleep-deprived for some time now. “Late nights with Korean series and rising early to attend to my kids, and other family members, has been my routine this lockdown.”

Pema Dechen, 25, said that her sleep timing was irregular now. “Most days I feel sleepy during the day and stay late surfing the internet.”

Health experts warn of mental health and other consequences if people don’t get enough sleep.

JDWNRH’s head of psychiatry department Dr Damber K. Nirola said, “Sleep is important because it serves as a restorative and homeostatic function.” The body’s homeostatic ability steadily maintains its internal environment that is crucial for regulating body temperature and energy conservation.

Dr Nirola said that with the pandemic restricting movement and decreased productivity it was common for people to have difficulties to sleep.

Stress causing the fight-or-flight response allows humans and animals to deal with important or dangerous situations. The right amount of stress keeps one alert and energetic. However, too much stress can cause sleep problems.

“Stress and lack of sleep can both have a severe impact on physical and mental health,” Dr Nirola said. “Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation sometimes lead to ego disorganisation, hallucinations, and delusions.”

Moreover, Dr Nirola said that people who are sleep deprived exhibits irritability and lethargy and can have a physical impairment, cognitive loss and eventually die.

A condition of excessive sleepiness during the day called hypersomnia can happen for no apparent reason, or it can result from another medical condition, said Dr Nirola.

“People with hypersomnia have difficulty functioning during the day because they are frequently tired, which can affect concentration and energy level.”

Dr Nirola said that some persons are short sleepers who require fewer than six hours of sleep and some are a long sleeper who sleeps more than nine hours to function adequately.

“Short sleepers are generally efficient, ambitious, socially adept, and content. Long sleepers tend to be mildly depressed, anxious, and socially withdrawn.”

Tips to maintain sleep hygiene

Dr Nirola said that to establish a sleep routine one must follow sleep hygiene–habits that promote consistent and better sleep.

He recommends individuals follow sleep routines, avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine before sleep, exercise as little as 10 minutes and avoid fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruit, and carbonated drinks.

Ensuring adequate exposure to natural light helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle, he said. Bright light from lamps, cell phone and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, turn those lights off or adjust them when possible.