‘Happy people sleep well’

Experts say sleep problems constitute a global epidemic

Updated - March 11, 2015 05:42 am IST

Published - March 11, 2015 12:00 am IST

The World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) has been highlighting the strong link between sound sleep and good health since 2008. It held the first World Sleep Day (WSD) on March 14, 2008, with the theme ‘Sleep well, live fully awake’. The next year the association’s theme for the WSD was ‘Drive alert, arrive safe’ to highlight the number of accidents caused by drivers having sleep disorders and falling asleep at the wheel.

In the years that followed, the WASM themes highlighted the link between proper sleep, general health and proper breathing while sleeping. The WASM theme for 2014 was ‘Restful Sleep, Easy Breathing, Healthy Body’. For the first time since its inception, the WASM has come up with a theme to highlight the strong link between sound sleep and not just the body but also the mind, particularly the mental attribute of ‘happiness’ . The theme for the WSD to be celebrated on March 13 is “When sleep is sound, health and happiness abound.” WSD -2015 co-chairpersons and sleep experts Antonio Culebras and Liborio Parrino say that sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatened health and quality of life for up to 45 per cent of the world’s population. And frequent interruption of the breathing function during sleep is a pervasive disorder called sleep apnoea that affects 17 per cent of men and nine per cent of women in middle and old age.

A team of Behavioural Medicine researchers of Cornell University analysed data from 100 middle-aged persons. The study found that “having a more positive general outlook on life (‘being happy’ in other words) is associated with improved sleep quality”.

Vijayawada Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (VIMHANS) Chief Psychiatrist Vishal Indla said that the Cornell University finding was different from the traditional understanding that people who sleep well are happy, but the new study says the reverse and that it, ‘happy people, sleep well’. So people who are unhappy do not sleep well and become unhealthy and therefore more unhappy. There is therefore a need to break the vicious cycle between unhappiness and poor sleep, he said.

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