Most people are laying out majority of their time as adults either working or sleeping. However, very little is known of the relationship between the two (Barnes et al., 2012). On the impact of productivity, 58% of Indians believe their work suffers due to inadequate sleep, whereas 38% have witnessed a colleague falling asleep at work ("Why you feel sleepy at work", 2015). Sleep problems can serve as both cause and consequence of individuals' day-to-day experiences including work experience. The effects of excessive daytime sleepiness on daytime functioning, cognition, memory, accidents and work errors is well studied in some countries such as the United States, Australia, Japan and France (Bartel, Offermeier, Smith, & Becker, 2004; Roth & Roehrs, 1996, 2003).
According to a survey done in 2020, working from home changed sleep schedule of 67% Indians with many sleeping after 11:00 pm. The reasons for the late sleep timings primarily were concerns that cropped up during the pandemic like job security, managing finances and worrying about family/friends' security which accounted for most sleepless nights among respondents, with 49 per cent staying up because of these issues. 'Sleep', which Dr Bhatia describes as a primary "pillar of wellness", is predicted to be the next big phenomenon in the wellness industry all over the world-especially in India, which is the second most sleep-deprived country after Japan, according to a survey conducted by fitness solutions firm Fit bit in 2019. But treating sleep conditions with the conventional tools and wisdom that experts have used so far may not be enough. New ways and tools need to be developed that would help people deal with their sleep related concerns.
Employees in high stress jobs have been affected by poor sleep worse than their counterparts who are in comparatively less stressful jobs. Research has shown that among the working population, close to 30% - 40% of the employees, especially those working in high pressure demand jobs, do not sleep well ("Don't sleep on it", 2015). Few reasons contributing to sleep problems in India are possibly due to food habits, lack of physical activity (exercise) poor sleep hygiene, strenuous and hectic work patterns. The sleep therapy market is growing at the rate of 20% and as per records stands at 80 crores ("World Sleep Day", 2015). A survey conducted by the 'The Hindu' revealed that as high as 87% of Indians said that they were aware that poor sleep affected their health, but very few actually took any action or visited the doctor to get treated for the same. The survey further reports that 18.6% of people from South India complained of insomnia and 60% of those who took part in the survey displayed a high risk of OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), while 3.3 percent were potential sufferers of OSA. A study by market research firm Nielsen during November-December 2009, found 93% of urban Indians are sleep deprived and 62% display high risk of obstructive sleep apnea. According to industry estimates, the number of sleep apnea patients in the country could be somewhere between 40 million to 70 million. The nascent sleep therapy market in India was kick-started in 2008 when the $17-billion GE Healthcare brought to the Indian market continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat sleep apnea, a breathing disorder common among adult diabetics.
However, it is very important to understand how will the sleep schedule and sleep status of Indians look like in 2021? The Great Indian Sleep Scorecard (GISS) 2021 shows signs of improving sleep health, even though it does not change the fact that 92% Indians still look at their phones before bedtime. A cover story by Mint published earlier showed that according to the Global Wellness Trends report 2020, one of the main culprits of bad sleep in the 21st century is the growing menace of "light mare" (inappropriate exposure to blue light and darkness due to light pollution). The 365 days-24x7 always 'On' lifestyle is the reason behind major trouble and distress with our circadian rhythm (body clocks) leading people to sleep, eat and exercise at the wrong hours. It is true that many people have started focusing on their sleep health and are concerned on the effects of poor sleep on their health. There is a growing interest in ergonomic mattresses and furniture, and the demand for the sleep products went up by 70% during the pandemic as per the head of Wakefit Chaitanya Ramalinegowda (Co-founder and director of Wakefit).
Dr. Moitrayee Das - Guest Faculty, FLAME University, Pune