Over 40% of UAE Residents Sleep Less Than 6 Hours Due to Stress: World Sleep Day Survey

Over 40% of UAE Residents Sleep Less Than 6 Hours Due to Stress: World Sleep Day Survey

More than 40 percent of UAE residents sleep less than 6 hours per night, mainly because of stress, according to a survey conducted last month as part of World Sleep Day on March 15.

The survey, which polled more than 950 individuals aged from 18 to more than 65 years old, was conducted last month by Premier Inn Middle East and beds and mattresses company Silentnight Arabia to gain insights into the sleep quality and habits of UAE residents.

According to the survey, someone’s sleep can be disrupted by many factors. Stress is cited by 48 percent of the respondents as the main reason.

“Stress triggers elevated levels of cortisol, which disrupts the production of sleep hormones. This response originates from our primal instincts: We only sleep when we feel safe,”

the UAE sleep survey noted.

What causes stress?

Having a lot of worries causes stress. Interestingly, in a separate survey released on February 1 by Cigna Healthcare, almost half, or 45 percent of UAE residents say the 'cost of living' is the leading cause of their stress, followed by personal and family financial concerns.

"With the expectation that global interest rates will remain high in the coming months, financial concerns are likely to persist for the foreseeable future… The 'cost of living crisis' – driven by global inflation – is the leading cause of stress in the UAE," noted the survey, which touched on various aspects such as mental health, work-life balance, and family relationships.

Sleep disturbances

Aside from stress, other factors of sleep disturbances include temperature or climate; discomfort or pain; electronic devices, construction, and traffic noise; disturbance from children or roommates; work-related concerns; and nightlife.

“Maintaining a slightly cooler core body temperature is crucial for good quality sleep. While air-conditioning is common in our hot climate, its noise and air-drying effect can disrupt sleep. Interestingly, about 80 percent of people report that they sleep best in winter due to naturally lower temperatures, reducing the need for air conditioning,”

the sleep survey noted.

Using electronic devices before bedtime also ranks high on the list (26 percent). Excessive blue light exposure can disturb sleep but contents like meditation, podcasts, or familiar TV shows can actually be soothing.

How much sleep is needed?

“Our survey findings underscore the massive opportunity for people to enhance their sleep quality,”

Simon Leigh, managing director, Premier Inn Middle East said.

Hannah Shore, sleep expert at Silentnight Arabia, advised:

“Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of good quality sleep per night, six hours is on the lower end. We must allow our bodies the right amount of time in each stage of sleep to fully recover - five cycles of 90 minutes per night. Deep sleep repairs the body physically whereas light sleep benefits the brain function and emotional processing.”

When do people go to bed?

The majority of sleep survey respondents (55 percent) reported going to bed between 10 pm and midnight, while a significant number (27 percent) went to sleep after midnight.

“The time at which we go to bed is unique to each of us,”

noted Shore, explaining:

“It depends on the circadian rhythm – our internal body clock – that regulates our sleep-wake cycle and chronotype (and makes us a morning or evening person)."

What time do people wake up?

Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents wake up between 6 am and 8 am, and 36 percent between 4 am and 6 am. These wake-up times are most likely set by work and school schedules.

People are woken up by an alarm clock (81 percent), followed by family members or roommates (30 percent), light exposure (27 percent), and bird song (7 percent). Other wake-up aids include the sound of a kettle boiling, the smell of breakfast, the body's circadian rhythm, and the call to prayer.

Shore noted:

“If people had a more regular sleeping pattern, their body would have a natural time at which it wakes up as waking up a few minutes before your alarm is a sign of a good sleep routine. Bright morning light also helps people to rise and shine as it suppresses the production of melatonin making us feel more awake.”

How to improve sleeping habits

Reducing stress will give one a good night's sleep. Having an effective wind-down routine can also help the body and mind relax from the day's activities.

“The most popular sleep routine among respondents is to watch TV before bed (35 percent). This can be a great way to help your brain switch off from the day, as long as it’s something familiar and comforting, like a re-run of ‘Friends’,”

noted Shore.

Avoiding caffeine is also important.

“Caffeine binds to brain receptors, telling us we're awake. But if consumed too close to bedtime, its effects might linger due to its long half-life, which can last up to 10 hours! When opting for herbal teas and juices (18 percent), make sure they are caffeine-free.”

Evening routines should facilitate a decrease in body temperature. 23 percent of respondents actively lower the room temperature.

“However, activities such as exercising (13 percent), hot baths, and large meals can all cause spikes in our core body temperature, therefore we should avoid doing these too close to bedtime.”

Listening to podcasts or music (23 percent), and reading a book (15 percent) are also popular hobbies before bedtime.

Set a timer so you don’t lose too many valuable hours of sleep time. A substantial 25 percent of people end their day by saying a prayer which compliments a calm and relaxing wind-down routine.

How to get enough sleep this Ramadan?

Getting enough sleep for people who are fasting during Ramadan is challenging due to changes in meal times, spiritual practices, and daily routines. There are several strategies you can employ to ensure you get adequate rest, noted Dr. Aamerah Shah, a specialist in family medicine at Fakeeh University Hospital in Dubai.

  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule – Try to maintain a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even during Ramadan. Consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up.
  • Take short naps – If possible, take short naps during the day to make up for any lost sleep during the night. Keep your naps brief (around 20-30 minutes) to avoid disrupting your nighttime sleep.
  • Manage your daytime activities – Pace yourself throughout the day to avoid exhaustion. Limit physical exertion, especially during the hottest hours, and take breaks when needed to conserve energy.
  • Limit caffeine and sugar intake – Avoid consuming caffeinated drinks and sugary foods close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Instead, opt for water and nutritious snacks to keep you hydrated and satisfied during non-fasting hours.
  • Monitor your food and fluid intake – Be mindful of what and when you eat during non-fasting hours. Avoid heavy, spicy, or overly fatty foods close to bedtime, as they can cause discomfort and indigestion. Drink plenty of water throughout the night to stay hydrated.
  • Listen to your body – Pay attention to your body's signals and adjust your schedule accordingly. If you feel fatigued, consider modifying your activities or taking a rest to prevent sleep deprivation.

By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can optimize your sleep during Ramadan fasting and maintain your overall health and well-being.

News Source: Khaleej Times

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