A survey has shown that many residents do not get enough sleep and spend their bed time either surfing the social networks, watching TV or frequently spending late nights out. Image Credit: Jupiter Images

Dubai: Do you feel irritable, tired, stressed out and experience frequent infections? Then you must be suffering from lack of sleep like many other people in the UAE.

A survey has shown that many residents do not get enough sleep and spend their bed time either surfing the social networks, watching TV or frequently spending late nights out.

The daily stress at the workplace also does not end at the office as the survey showed that many bring their work to their homes and work late into the night.

Doctors warn that lack of proper sleep could have long-term adverse effects on one's health and impact on jobs or studies.

The health and fitness study covered over 750 people and showed that a majority — 68 per cent — do not get proper sleep at night. The findings were the same across various nationalities and included Emiratis, GCC nationals and expatriates.

Eight hours

Dr Lalit Uchil, a specialist in internal medicine, said eight hours of sleep is essential every night. The first thing that happens because of lack of sleep is frazzled nerves, loss of concentration and a constant feeling of being run-down, said the doctor with the Welcare Ambulatory Care Centre.

He said people in Dubai work long hours, many also fly in and out of time zones and are constantly under pressure.

"The result is weakness, headaches. You don't enjoy life," he said.

Uchil said his clinic is near Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City and he gets a number of patients from professionals in the mass communications and IT sectors. "They are constantly under pressure and unable to sleep," he said.

The survey also showed that 57 per cent of respondents resorted to TV and the internet to relieve their stress instead of hitting the treadmill or taking a walk.

Many also did not know how to calculate their BMI (Body Mass Index) despite knowing that they are overweight. The doctor said the best way to calculate your approximate BMI is to take your height in centimetres and minus 100. For example, if your height is 175 centimeters, you minus 100 from that and that gives you 75. That is the upper limit of your suggested weight (in kilograms).

Dr Samina Khatib, physician with Modern Medical Consultation Centre in Deira, said staying up late nights is a habit in the UAE and that children are the most affected by sleep deprivation.

The doctor said since there are not many play areas, children watch TV or surf the internet and that spoils the sleep pattern.

"You should stop all such activities at least 90 minutes before sleeping [for your body to relax and get to sleep]," she said.

Uchil said most people stretch themselves thin trying to catch up with friends through Facebook and Twitter when they get back home after work.

Khatib said sleep deprivation affects your whole well-being right from raising your blood pressure and sugar levels.

"You will not realise its effects immediately," she said.

Lama Owais, a media coordinator with the Ministry of Health, said she barely gets five hours of sleep every night.

"I am tense most of the time," she said. She goes to sleep at midnight. But that is early for many people who tend to doze off only around 1am.

"The survey showed some interesting findings," said Javeed Farooqui, executive director of Zarca Interactive which conducted the survey.

"There is not much awareness [about good health]."

The survey numbers will be offered to the Ministry of Health and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to formulate an index on health trends in the UAE and the GCC, he said.

How long do you sleep on average? Have you tried to adapt your lifestyle to make sure you sleep well?