Insomnia remains a largely undiagnosed and under-treated issue in the Middle East region.
In the UAE, many doctors believe that the problem is on the rise, especially amongst children. Some say that the issue is also pronounced in adults during the Holy Month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
Reports estimate that around ten percent of people in the developed world suffer chronically from insomnia.
Whereas about 25 percent of residents in the Middle East and North Africa are affected by the condition, according to Dr. Hady Jerdak, a sleep specialist at the Harley St. Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi.
As a practitioner who monitors how patients rest at night, and coaches them to develop better habits during the day, he believes that technology is a good place to start.
Dr Jerdak argues that exposure to devices like smart phones, which emit a type of blue light which is believed to reduce the quantity and quality of people’s sleep, should be reduced.
“There’s a trend in the Middle East, where parents are pushing their kids to stay on tablets and on their phones because it’s convenient,” he says, “The child doesn’t cry, they don’t bother them, and that is creating a massive problem for us as sleep specialists.”
In the long term, a lack of sleep is linked to a host of health problems, from higher chances of obesity and heart disease to the body’s reduced ability to fight infections.
The biology of sleep is still not fully understood, as a result, some are exploring alternative ways to disconnect from their busy lives and reconnect with their inner self.
Stephen Marks is a yoga instructor who practises Nidra, or sleep yoga, which aims to put people into a sleep-like state whilst remaining conscious.
“Everyone is overstimulated at the moment, because we live in a crazy fast-paced world,” he says, “We’re overwhelmed with technology, things are trying to grab our attention the whole time and we don’t take enough time to relax.”