Only 35 per cent of respondents said they get proper sleep Image Credit: Illustrative purpose

DUBAI An alarming 75 per cent of UAE youngsters are not getting sufficient daily sleep, a new health survey has revealed.

Sharing the results exclusively with XPRESS, Zarca Interactive, a provider of online survey solutions, said the study covered 814 respondents from the seven emirates and used different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The respondents, aged between 16 and 55, comprised 38 per cent Asians, 29 per cent Arab expats, 17 per cent Emiratis and 16 per cent Westerners.

Asked to assess their overall sleeping pattern, only 35 per cent of the respondents said they get “proper sleep” every night. Only 25 per cent of those aged 16-24 clocked in around eight hours of sleep every day. The figures were dismal in other age brackets too: only 33 per cent (25-34 years), 37 per cent (35-44 years), 35 per cent (45-54 years) and 44 per cent (55 plus) get enough sleep. The survey found that the sleep pattern at night does not differ much by gender. Napping in the afternoons is also more common among youngsters.

“In the fast-paced and over connected world, lack of sleep has become a global phenomenon. Sleep deprivation is a neglected health area which can cause major health and social issues,” said Javed Farooqui, Zarca Interactive executive director and head Middle East and Africa.

He said: “There is a direct correlation between sound, long sleep with happiness. Lack of sleep does not only make a person grumpy, but one does not know what it can do to one’s family life, memory, health, looks and ability to lose weight.”

Poor sleep hygiene

Dr Lalit Uchil, Specialist Internal Medicine at Mediclinic Mirdif said: “There is no single reason why people are sleep deprived. It could be poor sleep hygiene, stress, ill-health or a combination of these factors.”

He said stress due to job insecurity and financial problems is common in the Gulf. With the UAE at the crossroads between the West and the East, he said working people face a time zone issue and stay awake at odd hours. “Office culture sometimes demands that working hours are extended, which delays travel time and adds to the burden of stress. People also tend to bring home work and their sleep time is dependent on their work load.”

Dr Uchil said on an average, a person needs eight hours of quality sleep daily. Sleep deprivation has short and long-term effects. In the short term, it leads to irritability, lack of concentration, memory loss and slow reflexes. Long-term, it can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Sleep apnea, what’s that?

Dr Asif Sattar, consultant pulmonologist at Mediclinic City Hospital said: “Sleep apnea is one the main reasons why people don’t get quality sleep. It’s a condition where the airways tend to get blocked during sleep and the brain stays active to keep up the blood’s oxygen levels. As a result, patients tend to be tired and groggy the next day.”

He said the most common cause is obesity. A backset jaw and narrow airway can also create a problem. Warning signs include snoring, breath holds and daytime drowsiness. Diagnosis is done through a sleep study. If it’s a mild case, solution lies in losing weight. If moderate or severe, treatment entails the use of a special mask.

Learn to say no

Fitness instructor Buffi Jashanmal said there is no excuse for not getting a good night’s sleep. “When you are in a city like Dubai, there’s a lot happening around you and you are constantly trying to juggle around your work and social commitments. But you don’t have to say yes to every invitation and put yourself through undue pressure. Remember, good sleep is priority. Your diet and exercise come later.”

When tech takes a toll

Active use of technology - tele-vision, computers, video games and cell phones - within the hour before going to bed is believed to hamper sleep.

Chiropractor Dr Tod Cahill said a number of his patients report problems sleeping and waking up with pain because of neural or spinal curves. “Cases of forward flexion posture are common because people are constantly looking down into a screen, be it an iPad, computer or smart phone. I see 60-70- new cases every month.”

He said symptoms include numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, headaches and neck and shoulder pain, all of which can prevent people from sleeping or wake them when they are asleep. “Motion exercises can correct the problem.”

Is it the mattress?

If none of these factors apply, Gaby Malek of Better Sleep said it is worth looking at the mattress that is being used. “If it is too soft, you can sink into it. If it is too hard, your body will have to adapt to it. In both cases, the quality of sleep gets affected.”

“Our teams assess the status of a mattress, base and size of the bed and advise people on what’s good for them.”



Losing 30 minutes of sleep on weekday nights can lead to an increased risk of obesity and developing Type 2 diabetes.


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