An interview with Dr Amit Dias

We hope everyone enjoys a restful sleep. If not, join us for this insightful interview where we delve into the complexities of sleep and receive expert advice from Dr Amit Dias, from the Department of Preventive & Social Medicine at GMC. “Laughter and quality sleep are both essential for good health,” he emphasizes, cautioning against excessive smartphone and screen use before bedtime.

If you identify with this picture… then this article is surely for you.

Goan Observer: To begin with, could you shed some light on why sleep is essential for our well-being from a medical and scientific perspective?
Dr Amit Dias:
Sleep is a fundamental physiological process crucial for various aspects of our health. It plays a vital role in cognitive function, memory consolidation, immune system regulation, and overall physical and mental restoration. During sleep, the body undergoes processes that repair tissues, release growth hormones, and regulate various physiological functions.
Lack of sleep has been linked to a range of health issues, including impaired cognitive function, increased risk of chronic diseases, and compromised immune function. You need to understand your circadian rhythm and respect it – have a fixed bed time and wake time.
I would like to stress that sleep has a profound impact on both physical as well as mental health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, impaired immune function, and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. It also affects cognitive performance, leading to difficulties in concentration, memory, and decision-making.

Q: How much sleep do individuals need, and does this requirement change with age?
The amount of sleep required varies across different age groups. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults generally need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Infants and young children may require more, while older adults might find 7-8 hours sufficient. The need for sleep does change with age, and it’s crucial to consider individual variations within these general recommendations.

Q: How can one determine if one is getting adequate sleep?
Assessing whether someone is getting enough sleep involves looking at various factors. Key indicators include feeling alert and refreshed upon waking, maintaining attention and focus throughout the day, and not experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness or irritability. Additionally, monitoring the total duration of sleep and its consistency over time can provide valuable insights into sleep adequacy.

Q: Could you elaborate on what constitutes abnormal sleep, and what are the signs that someone might be experiencing sleep disorders?
Abnormal sleep patterns can manifest in various ways. Persistent difficulty falling or staying asleep, frequent awakenings during the night, and irregular sleep-wake cycles are indicative of potential sleep disorders. Other signs include excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep, and restless leg movements. If someone consistently experiences these symptoms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation.

Q: What is sleep apnea, and what problems are associated with it?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. The two main types are obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. OSA occurs when the muscles in the throat relax excessively, leading to a partial or complete blockage of the airway.
Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, results from a failure of the brain to signal the muscles to breathe. Both types can lead to disrupted sleep, loud snoring, and daytime fatigue. If left untreated, sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, hypertension, and other health issues.

Q: Can you outline the interventions available for sleep disorders?
There are several sleep disorders, including insomnia, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and para-insomnia like sleepwalking, etc. Treatment approaches vary depending on the specific disorder. Behavioral therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, and lifestyle modifications are common non-pharmacological interventions. Medications may be prescribed in certain cases, but their use is typically carefully considered due to potential side effects.

Q: How can individuals practice good sleep hygiene to improve their sleep quality?
Adopting good sleep hygiene is crucial for maintaining healthy sleep patterns. Follow the tips for healthy sleep. This includes maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime, and engaging in relaxing activities before sleep. Limiting screen time and exposure to bright lights in the evening also contribute to better sleep hygiene. My message to everyone is to unplug and switch off your computer, smartphone, and television at least an hour before you sleep.

Q: What is your message to our readers?
My message is do not sleep over sleep-related problems. There could be an underlying cause that could be treated; secondly, chronic sleep deprivation can bring in a lot of health-related issues. Sleep in time saves nine. Laughter and sleep are medical and essential for your wellbeing. Do not underestimate the importance of sleep. Sleep is a link between your body and your health — it is the bridge between despair and hope.

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