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What's keeping you awake?

Bedtime procrastination, a newly researched phenomenon, is emerging as an noticeable urban scenario, where you delay sleeping despite no external factor to stop you from hitting the sack

His Holiness Dalai Lama once said, "Sleep is the best meditation", but it seems that the youth today is not seeking mental nirvana.

What's keeping you awake?

An increasing number of urban young adults are falling prey to a phenomenon, titled Bedtime Procrastination, which scientists at the Utrecht University, Netherlands say is a condition that leads to "failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so."

What's keeping you awake?

Experts say that the situation is coming to light even in India, with people falling prey to this pattern.

Dr Preeti Devnani
Dr Preeti Devnani

Dr Preeti Devnani, Clinical Director, Sleep Disorders Clinic, Khar (W), who is also a Consultant at Jaslok Hospital’s Department of Neurology and Neurophysiology, explains that Bedtime Procrastination in essence is "a voluntary delay of an intended course of action, in this scenario sleep onset, despite awareness of adverse or unfavourable outcomes, which in this case is mostly daytime drowsiness, reduced alertness or fatigue".

Also termed as Poor Sleep Hygiene, this condition is routinely screened to assess sleeping disorders such as insomnia and delayed sleep phase syndromes, says Dr Devnani.

It’s active or inactive
Bedtime Procrastination can be divided as active or inactive. Here, experts distinguish between those who delay sleeping because they’re overloaded with activities, which may be work related or social, and those who merely can’t turn off as a result of an increase in stimulation via electrical devices, 24/7 Internet, hectic social life and sometimes, even peer pressure.

Dr Harish Shetty
Dr Harish Shetty

It has been noted that Bedtime Procrastination is more prominent in adolescents, and young adults and is seen more in people who are tech-savvy. On the other hand, Dr Harish Shetty, Psychiatrist, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, claims that these symptoms are noted more in men than women.

"It also affects those who have wired themselves with a learned pattern of anticipating worry. Such people are
vulnerable to Bedtime Procrastination," he adds.

Sleep. It’s good for you.
As a one-off occurrence, this condition doesn’t harm, but if it persists, it can lead to multiple sleeping disorders, blood pressure and in some cases even depression, warns Dr Shetty. To this, Dr Devnani adds, "Sleep deprivation has also been linked to a diminished sex drive and lower cognitive processes, skin changes like accelerated aging, and weight gain have also been documented."

To avoid Bedtime Procrastination, apart from switching off from all electronic devices, Dr Shetty advises exercising and/or meditation, following a healthy diet and avoiding tea/coffee after 5 pm.

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