MEXICO CITY – Sleep disorders increase people’s chances of developing hypertension and experiencing heart attacks, as well as suffering from metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and so it is necessary to attend to these problems to be able to have better quality of life, Dr. Ulises Jimenez Correa said on Thursday in Mexico City.
The head of the sleep disorders clinic at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Medical School – where doctors and psychologists treat 35-40 patients per day – said that in Mexico 45 percent of adults have suffered from some kind of sleep disorder at some time in their lives.
“Although almost 100 disorders of this kind exist, among the most common in adults are insomnia, snoring and sleep apnea,” the specialist told EFE.
Jimenez said that, on average, Mexicans sleep 5.5 hours per night, which is less than the minimum six hours recommended by the World Health Organization.
He said that individual differences in sleep exist: “A newborn, for example, can sleep 20 hours, while a preschool child can sleep 11 or 12 hours and an older adult five or six hours per night.”
Jimenez said that not sleeping enough increases the probability that one will suffer from metabolic diseases, “but besides that, it makes us anxious, irritable, depressed, harms our quality of life and there’s a decline in productivity.”
He said that someone with sleep disorders loses control of their eating schedule, increases their intake of food and becomes sedentary.
He also emphasized that the urban lifestyle, stress, emotional problems, the medications one takes for certain illnesses and abusing the new technologies have caused people not to get enough sleep.
“We’ve very sleep-deprived, we’re accustomed to not sleeping enough, but in addition, it’s not enough to just sleep. You have to do it well because not doing so causes wear and tear on our lives. It’s not a luxury and we must accord it its due importance,” he emphasized.
The use of technology before sleep, Jimenez said, affects people’s rest, since each minute spent using electronic devices delays people in getting to sleep and is the cause of nocturnal awakenings.
He said that this occurs because the illumination inhibits melatonin production, a hormone that we produce when we’re in the dark, thus preventing us from getting to sleep and shortening the sleep cycle.
Jimenez advised people to acquire healthy sleep habits such as avoiding the use of electronic devices for at least an hour before going to bed, reading, taking a warm bath, breathing calmly and trying to relax.