Mobile Tech Causing & Curing Sleep Deprivation In India

Tech Causing & Curing Sleep Deprivation In IndiaDr Ashish Srivastav, consultant psychiatrist of the Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour, says sleep deprivation is on the rise across India. And technology may be the greatest culprit behind this regrettable emerging trend.

In particular, teenagers and young adults who are overstimulated by mobile gadgets and games are suffering the most from the severe ravages of so-called ‘junk sleep.’

“Most teens who use their gadgets excessively also suffer from sleep deprivation, and as a result, they become irritable and lethargic. They are unable to concentrate or keep up with the rest of the class and their grades start to fall,” Dr Srivastav recently told the Times of India.

According to the latest industry data from research firm Gartner, Smartphone penetration across India reached record high in 2013, with further adoption of smartphones and tablets expected to accelerate throughout 2014. Global smartphone sales outpaced sales of feature phones for the first time, accounting for 53.6% of overall sales last year.

As Indians become more ‘connected’ to their gadgets, they could be suffering more from sleep deprivation.


This phenomenon, however, is far from unique to India. Sleep deprivation is now considered an epidemic and a general health menace across North America and Europe, where consumer adoption of mobile devices mostly exceeds India. As a result, medical experts and sleep specialists around the world have begun encouraging the mobile masses to limit their usage of mobile devices before going to bed. Instead, users should find ways to leverage these ubiquitous technologies to ensure better sleep conditions.

Kamran Fallahpour, a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist at New York’s Brain Resource Center, is among those who suggest that a good night’s sleep may only be one app download away. While the world’s pre-eminent app stores often draw flak for being loaded with mostly ineffectual sleep apps, the year 2014 represents a new ballgame for sleep science on mobile.

In recent months, a neuroscience-based app called Sleep Genius turned the world of iOS and Android-based sleep apps on its side with its uncommonly advanced scientific pedigree. Dr Fallahpour calls Sleep Genius a paramount example of a “scientific and neurologically sound sleep aid.”

With sleep deprivation and sleeping pill-dependence worsening with each passing year across the vast Indian population, medical experts feel that curbing unhealthy sleep habits among teenagers is an urgent priority.

“There are different phases of sleep. Most important is REM or rapid eye movement sleep, a stage of deep sleep during which one’s memories are consolidated, creative thoughts are formed and the mind rejuvenates itself,” explains consultant pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist Dr Hardatt Karande. “Teenagers, who stay up late playing games or texting friends, miss out on a majority of REM sleep and have fragmented sleep instead.”

Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even occupation-related injuries resulting from decreased alertness and cognitive functions.