Friday - - Living -

Eight hours of snooz­ing. If only we could mas­ter it, we’d be healthier, hap­pier, calmer, sharper and gen­er­ally all-round bet­ter ver­sions of our usual groggy, yawn­ing, puffy-eyed selves. Roughly 35 to 40 per cent of UAE res­i­dents have suf­fered from a sleep dis­or­der at some point in their life, ac­cord­ing to Arab Health Online, and sleep prob­lems con­sti­tute a global epi­demic af­fect­ing up to 45 per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion ac­cord­ing to theWorld As­so­ci­a­tion of Sleep Medicine. Re­search sug­gests that long-term bad sleep can dam­age health, while in the short-term, our im­mune sys­tems suf­fer and it leaves us zapped, ir­ri­ta­ble and un­able to con­cen­trate.

“Poor sleep among peo­ple liv­ing in the UAE is of­ten caused by obe­sity and ac­com­pa­ny­ing ob­struc­tive sleep ap­nea, stress, shift work and jet lag,” says Dr Suresh Menon, med­i­cal di­rec­tor and a spe­cial­ist in in­ter­nal medicine, Life­line Hos­pi­tal, Jebel Ali, who says he sees two to three pa­tients per week with sleep­ing dis­or­ders.

Dur­ing par­tic­u­larly stress­ful phases like ex­ams or re­la­tion­ship break­downs, or af­ter trauma, grief, phys­i­cal ill­ness or pain, it’s nor­mal for sleep to suf­fer and in­som­nia can be­come a chronic prob­lem for some.

If in­som­nia does be­come chronic, speak­ing to your GP is im­por­tant. Aside from pills, ther­a­pies like coun­selling and cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy (CBT) can be ef­fec­tive.

But if poor sleep is sim­ply a nig­gling prob­lem you could re­ally do with­out, here are some sim­ple steps you can take to help. Bad sleep­ers are of­ten trapped in a worry cy­cle. “The anx­i­ety of think­ing you’ll not be able to sleep is one of the things that feeds the prob­lem,” says Dr Ne­rina Ram­lakhan, au­thor of Tired But Wired: How To Over­come Sleep Prob­lems, The Es­sen­tial Sleep Toolkit.

Also, ly­ing in bed wor­ry­ing about the day’s events or things that might hap­pen in the fu­ture is not go­ing to help, but it’s a habit you can ad­dress.

Dr Ram­lakhan rec­om­mends a 12-step toolkit, which in­cludes adapt­ing your ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the day, like ex­er­cis­ing to re­duce stress and writ­ing a to-do list for the next day at bed­time.

Well-be­ing coach and hyp­nother­a­pist Kam Birdee (www.kam­birdee.com) agrees. “Keep a note­book by your bed and write things you’re wor­ry­ing about. They’ll be out of your head and can be dealt with in the morn­ing.”


Your sur­round­ings have a big im­pact on your mind, so it makes sense that the place you sleep in should be a peace­ful re­treat. “If there’s clut­ter around you, it can be clut­ter­ing your mind,” says Birdee.

Dr Ram­lakhan rec­om­mends clear­ing your bed­room of all tech­nol­ogy in or­der for a good night’s sleep, which means no com­put­ers or TV. If that’s not pos­si­ble, at least find a way to hide work-re­lated stuff. “If you lack space, make bound­aries in other ways, for ex­am­ple a white sheet over your desk area,” she says.

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