The power of good sleep with Dr. Vikas Punamiya

For maintaining optimal health and well-being, getting enough sleep is essential. In fact adequate sleep is as vital as regular exercise and a balanced diet. Consultant Interventional Pulmonology & Sleep Physician at Breach Candy Hospital and Gleneagles Global Hospital, Dr. Vikas Punamiya was invited on the Navhind Times, Talk from the Heart show on Sunday, January 23, to discuss sleep and all related matters to help viewers achieve good sleep hygiene.

An internationally trained medical professional with over two decades of experience, Punamiya, has been associated with renowned international medical institutions such as Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, UK, Lancaster Hospital, UK, Hornsby Ku – Ring Gai Hospital, Australia, and more. Highlighting the fact that sleep disorders have increased in the last two decades or so, he said, “It is now the increased awareness that has made people realise the problems related to sleep. In my opinion, we are still in the infant stage as we do not understand the magnitude of these issues. However I do believe that programmes such as these will help people understand the importance of sleep and how to reduce sleep-related conditions.

It is clear that sleep is essential at every age and we all need sleep, to power the mind, restore the body, and fortify virtually every system in the body. But how much sleep do we really need in order to get these benefits is an important question. “Most people sleep according to their professional, family and social life. Their waking hours are largely determined by these responsibilities. Of course personal preference is also a determining factor but generally most adults need about 7 hours of sleep,” explained Punamiya and gave a few tips on how to maintain regular sleep schedule. “Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy and wake up at the same time everyday even on weekends and holidays,” he recommended. He also spoke at length on the Circadian rhythm and elaborated on the benefits of sustaining this cycle. “Getting a routine in place takes some time and varies with every individual. It just a matter of being persistent and keeping to those routines, of breaking a bad habit and forming a good one” he added.

With jobs getting more stressful and demands for employees to work longer hours on the rise, sleep during working days is quite often not sufficient. Asked if this shortfall could be made up during the weekend, he answered, “This is a common approach but unfortunately it is not clear if sleeping in compensates for this sleep dearth or it simply represents a return to the normal sleep pattern. There are concerns about it because the body gets a false sense of recovery. You may feel better for a while but the snowballing effect of sleep loss is a debt that takes much longer to repay than a normal bank loan.” He also explained that while napping isn’t a replacement for lost sleep, it can help one feel rested during the day, especially for shift-workers or those who maintain an inconsistent sleep schedule. “If you take a nap, it should be brief, for less than an hour and before 3 pm,” he recommended.

Sleeping less can lead to a host of problems but the same applies to sleeping more. Oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including obesity, heart disease, and increased risk of death. “For most adults sleeping more may be an indication of some underlying health issue. A recent study of oversleeping discovered that bodies are actually at risk for metabolic issues like diabetes, blood pressure and dyslipidemia,” he elaborated.

Sleep apnea, insomnia and restless leg syndrome were some of the disorders that he spoke about in detail. “The most common sleep disorder that I treat is poor sleep hygiene,” he shared and went ahead to explain what is comprises and the causes behind it. “Using your electronic devices in bed, irregular sleep time, bringing work in to bed and watching TV in the bedroom before sleeping are some very detrimental practices that keep sleep at bay.” Several tips were given for maintaining good sleep hygiene.

Many other relevant topics were discussed and tips were given by Punamiya.