April 15, 2023
Although insomnia is not as severe as in the worst times of the pandemic, Peruvians still have problems and discomfort to fall asleep. Following these recommendations will help you.
Are we sleeping better than in 2020? Three years ago, humanity locked itself up at home as a result of the coronavirus and it is well known that the uncertainty and anxiety in the face of this new situation impacted the mood of millions. Serious sleeping problems dominated the virtual medical consultations of health personnel at that time and today there is a consensus on the part of doctors and researchers in determining that the majority of these found relief. Most, but not all. As they explain, there are still sequelae of disorders and bad habits acquired during the pandemic, so it is important to talk about the issue in connection with the recent commemoration of World Sleep Day.
Frank Villarreal, coordinator of the Sleep Medicine Unit at Clinica Ricardo Palma, talked with SOMOS: “The pandemic accelerated the increase in sleep problems and discomfort. But the increase in cases of insomnia has actually been registered since the beginning of the last decade. This is due to different factors that have to do with ourselves and the relationship we have with the environment, ”he details. Regarding the latter, the neurologist details that they can be genetic (some people are more apprehensive than others, for example) and social and cultural (sensitivity to the national situation, to mention an example).
Based on this, the expert shares a series of recommendations to go to bed peacefully. “Sleep appears when we are tired enough to sleep. This fatigue, more than mental, has to be physical. So, for starters I would suggest setting hours that don’t vary much at least during the week. And, of course, dedicate a good time to rest ”, he points out. Villarreal adds that the ideal number of hours of sleep depends on age. “Newborns sleep about 20 hours; small children, 13; those who go to primary school, 10; to high school, 9. Young people and adults between 7 and 9 hours. Finally, for a series of reasons, older adults do not usually sleep more than 7 and a half hours, sometimes less”.
Physical activity during the day, indicates on the other hand the neurologist, is essential. “This has to produce moderate fatigue. It is known that physical activity not only fights insomnia, but also protects against other diseases. Taking the dog for a walk or going around the park is a very light exercise. Practicing some sport is the most appropriate thing”.
Villarreal continues: “We must avoid practices that overstimulate us after certain hours of the afternoon. It is preferable to exercise before 6 p.m., coffee should be taken until lunch and dinner if possible three hours before going to sleep. If you get up a lot to go to the bathroom, you shouldn’t drink that much two hours before you rest. And, of course, move the phone away a bit.” In the meantime, the neurologist concludes, other habits close to sleep must be promoted, such as taking a warm bath or doing stretching or meditation exercises. “People who are very concerned about work can write down the pending tasks for the next day in a notebook and thus stop mulling over ideas… I believe that the sum of everything can lead them on a better path when wanting to fall asleep.”
Vitamins or herbal products to sleep?
Neurologist Frank Villarreal explains that there are popular over-the-counter sleep products on the market, such as herbalists (relaxing teas, drops) or vitamins, some of which are low in toxicity, such as melatonin and magnesium. “These, beware, are not exempt from problems. The long-term effects of melatonin, for example, are not yet known. It should be consumed when there is specific discomfort… What should not be done is hope in them as the only cure. The correct thing is to identify the origin of the insomnia and modify habits and behaviors. Then see if medication is needed”, he concludes.
Dr. Frank Villarreal
Coordinator of the Sleep Medicine Unit of Clinica Ricardo Palma