One day, I was returning late from the hospital. On the way, I saw my friend walking on the footpath. I stopped and asked “What are you doing here so late?” He said “I am not able to sleep properly.” I said “why, what happened?” He said “Because of old age , my parents are not able to sleep at night. But now a day, I don’t know what has happened to my wife, she also stays awake whole night. “I said “we will talk about your parents later, but why is your wife not able to sleep?” He said- “I simply don’t know, she just gets up, keeps switching on the light repeatedly and goes to bathroom. At times she gets up to drink water. Sometimes she stands in the balcony or sits there with a book or listen to music. I am not able to understand what to do. ” I said “There are many reasons, why a person does not get sleep. Curiosity to know something, stress about something, excessive anger or grief etc. all can be reasons. At times, physical illness like cough, headache etc. can be the reasons. Stress about some upcoming event or ceremony, fear for something, health problems of near and dear ones also can be the reasons. Sometimes change in the daily routine or expecting some guest at home can be the cause. Some mental illnesses like depression, mania, schizophrenia may also be the cause. Some are used to sleep after some sort of drug abuse or addiction. When they try to sleep without it, they are not able to do so. Now, what your wife’s problem is, that we can know only after I speak to her. This is a problem called insomnia and can be treated.”

He said “what about my parents?” I said- “As such, elderly people have less sleep. 5 to 6 hrs of sleep per day is needed for them. Change in routine food habits, inadequate ventilation in their bedroom, some sort of mental stress, etc. all can be reasons. Decrease sleep can lead to heart and kidney problems in elderly people. Some elderly people are used to sleep with some sort of addiction like alcohol, morphine, tablets etc. Such behavior can adversely affect their memory. Hence, proper medication with doctor consultation is necessary.”

Many a times, it’s seen that some children, suddenly wake up at night and start crying. They sweat a lot and shiver. This lasts for about 5-10 mins. and sometimes it happens more than once in a night. This can happen if the child is overfed, underfed or has worm infestation. At times, if the child has tonsillitis or common cold or made to sleep with a big pillow under head, then also due to temporary airway obstruction, this can happen. Children should not be forced to eat too much. This has adverse effects on them. A new born child should sleep for about 22 hrs per day, 2 month old for about 20 hrs per day, 4 months old 16 hrs per day & one year old for about 14 hour per day. Proper and adequate sleep helps in the neurodevelopment and brain growth of a child. If a child is not getting adequate sleep, doctor should be consulted. Some persons are normally short sleepers who require fewer than 6 hours of sleep each night to function adequately. Long sleepers are those who sleep more than 9 hours each night to function adequately. Short sleepers are generally efficient, ambitious, socially adept and content. Long sleepers tend to be mildly depressed, anxious and socially withdrawn.

To get a good sleep, one should maintain regular hours of bedtime and arising. If you are hungry, have a light snack before bed time. Maintain a regular exercise schedule. Give yourself approximately an hour to wind down before going to bed. If you are preoccupied or worried about something at bed time, write it down and deal with it in the morning. Keep the bedroom quiet, cool and dark. Don’t take day time naps. Please don’t do exercise right before going to bed in order to wear yourself out. You should not watch television in bed when you can’t sleep. Please don’t watch the clock so you know how bad your insomnia actually is. One should not take a heavy meal before bed time. You should not take alcohol to help in going to sleep. One should avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon and evening. If you can’t sleep, don’t smoke a cigarette. Please don’t read in bed when you can’t sleep. One should not eat, exercise or talk on the phone in bed. If a person does not get adequate sleep for some psychological problem or any type of stress, they should consult a doctor.

Hearing all this, my friend left towards his home with the promise to take his wife next day itself for doctor consultation. I was very tired by then and I too left for my house.