A chorus of ‘I’m so tired,’ and ‘I need to sleep,’ punctuated by several yawns seem to follow me everywhere I go.
It’s not just me, according to a 2019 sleep study conducted by Philips, most Indians are sleep deprived and around “73% Indian adults want to improve their quality of sleep.”
With high pressure jobs, rising stress levels and a culture of ‘hustling’, complete, restful sleep time is slowly becoming a luxury.
FIT spoke to counselor SnehaJanaki, who runs a private practice in Mumbai called Reflective Arena, who added,
"“The rise of sleep related issues could perhaps be attributed to the constant accessibility to stimulating content, right at our finger tips.”" - SnehaJanaki
In the quest to find quality sleep, Indians are now going on sleepcations. It means exactly what you think it does – a vacation to sleep/where you sleep.
Dr Prashant Saxena, associate director and head of Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Max Hospitals added, “Sleep is a biological requirement, but since the last decade of my practice I am seeing younger patients come in with sleep disorders or difficulties because of the immense lifestyle changes.”
Repaying Sleep Debt and The Rise of the Always Tired
We’re always running on what feels like empty gas and it’s no wonder that we feel like we’re playing catch up. We’ve been working to repay our sleep debt.
According to the book Sleep Well Every Night by Glenn Harrold, ‘sleep debt’ is what you acquire when you miss out on the required amount of sleep every day.
Harrold writes, “If you need eight hours of sleep and you get only seven, you have a sleep debt of an hour...It accumulates and builds quickly the longer you stay awake.”
It also does not decrease of its own accord but you can make it up by recuperating and sleeping in on your day off or going on holiday to relax.
Here lies the allure of sleepcations that combine the two.
Papri Das says that she took a sleepcation to primarily sleep and recharge. “I was stressed because of work-life pressures and it was making me really sleep deprived, almost to the point of me having insomnia because I found it increasingly difficult to get restful sleep.”
She adds that her eating schedule was affected by the stress and perhaps added to the problems around sleep.
However, Papri felt she was soon back to the grind and her vacation bliss was “zapped out” instantly.
"“Another thing was that I reached home so fast! I had forgotten I was in the same city so it felt nice to have a break but also be so close.”"
Dr Saxena adds here that a sleepcation may act as a temporary balm, “I agree with the concept but the regularity of good sleep needs to be inculcated because untreated sleep disorders can lead to a host of problems from CVD to anxiety and anger issues.”
He also warns against another similar one solution, “Sleeping pills do not help, they can make you addicted and increase your intolerance to the drug all while not addressing the main reasons of your sleep deficiency.”
Vacation Shut-Eye: Paying to Sleep
Going on a sleepcation has been a rising global trend, and Indians are getting on the bandwagon. We are ready to shell out the big bucks all in the hopes of catching up on our basic need.
A fluffy mattress and new space devoid of ringing bells, alarms and other responsibilities of your actual house could translate into a restful sleep.
Of course, this may just be psychological but a good headspace is required to sleep well.
“It’s not just about time but also quality of sleep,” reminds SnehaJanaki.
The travel industry is waking up to this new potential type of customer and hotels and travel agencies are offering customised sleep packages – ITC Maurya has a sleepcation rest and recharge offer!
Even companies like Godrej Interio are riding the trend by launching a ‘Sleep@10’ campaign that urges customers to develop proper sleeping habits, and advertises their special mattresses.
Who is Losing Sleep, Who is Getting a Sleepcation?
Sleepcations, like all vacations, are a matter of class.
A holiday to lie in reeks of a bourgeois lifestyle, where people with enough financial capital can afford to take time off to de-compress and literally sleep.
Because India has fast-emerged as one of the fasted growing economies, it has seen a boom of the middle class resulting in increased spending and leisure activities.
All of this is coupled with a rise in working hours too, and the need to sleep and rest is real.
However, sleep deprivation and disorders are worse off the lower you go on the economic ladder.
Intersections of our identity give rise to a lot of nuance when talking about sleep. SnehaJanaki urges us to think about who needs rest the most.
"Class and caste have a role to play in the most tiring kind of labour too. " - SnehaJanaki
She adds, “it is perhaps gendered too. Who is doing work at home and at work ? Who is skipping on their sleep etc.”
Sustainable Sleep and Self-Care
It may be worthwhile to remember that sleepcations are not holistic or sustainable solutions.
"“Health wise it is my belief that we need to look at solutions from a sustainability lens. For the whole rhythm to get back and sleep to fulfill its restoration function, we need consistent efforts over time.”" - SnehaJanaki
She adds that repaying slept debt is also a contested issue, and most studies maintain that restoring the debt is not nearly as effective as getting “ timely sleep in the first place.”
Sleep has far-reaching consequences for your physical and emotional well-being and many illness – both physical and mental are exacerbated by a lack of good sleep.
Taking care of your sleep, therefore, amounts to self-care.
Nonetheless, as far as fads go, sleepcations are pretty harmless and SnehaJanaki says, “ If it makes people feel better and well rested that's great.”
After all, sleepcations are great for an indulgent day but a holistic solution to rectifying sleep patterns requires a more long-term re-thinking our work-life balance and health needs.
So, work hard on getting better sleep!
. Read more on Fit by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsPaying to Sleep Well: The Rise of Sleepcations Among Indians . Read more on Fit by The Quint.