The Keralites are well awake and it is a problem.

KOCHI: He has sleep problems and almost a quarter of the population of Kerala complains of some kind. Almost 18% had significant sleep disorders, and almost 5% were diagnosed with insomnia , showed a recent study.

The study was conducted by National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, among (PHCs) in Kerala. The authors surveyed 7,017 adults across 71 PHCs and reported that 22% subjects reported that they had sleep disturbances in the two weeks prior to assessment. The PHCs were randomly selected. Most subjects (66%) were women and their average age was 41. Duration of insomnia symptoms exceeded 6 months in 49% persons.

It was found that women, elderly persons and those having lower education were more at risk when it came to insomnia . In contrast, marital status did not correlate with the symptoms of insomnia , unlike in earlier studies which reported higher rates among subjects who are divorced or separated. Insomnia was more common in urban population (compared to rural populace) which may possibly be related to different lifestyles and higher stress, said the study.

“A significant proportion of subjects – who reported sleep disturbances – also reported insomnia symptoms for over six months, suggesting that their symptoms were chronic and unaddressed,” said Dr TS Jaisoorya, additional professor, department of psychiatry, NIMHANS. He is the lead author of the study that highlighted that sleep disturbances are a major public health concern.

These findings are crucial, since studies conducted around the world suggest that people with chronic sleep disorders have a poor quality of life, lower labor productivity, including absenteeism, an increased risk of accidents, increased use of medical care and an increased risk of mortality.

“Even in Kerala, those who reported insomnia had higher disability scores and poor quality of life. Incidentally, women from urban background are more likely to suffer from sleeping problem,” said Dr Jaisoorya.

Urban women are more stressed because they duplicate themselves as successful professionals and housewives. As they try to balance both aspects, it leaves them with little sleep. In Indian homes, women have more responsibility. In rural India, it may be slightly different, said the neurologist at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr. R Sureshkumar.

In addition, the study found that subjects with chronic insomnia have a higher likelihood of having medical and psychiatric illness. Mental health experts admitted that sleep disorder, especially insomnia , is a major public concern that is neglected.

Sleep disorder is a common problem now, especially when changing the sleep pattern. Added to this is the increased stress, work pressure and access to technology and noise in the neighborhood that disturb their sleep either due to vehicular movement or the use of loudspeakers. Sleep hygiene should be strictly implemented, said the secretary of the Kerala State Mental Health Authority, Dr. Jayaprakashan KP.