DECONSTRUCTING INSOMNIA & MENTAL HEALTH

In my previous article on Insomnia & mental health, I have highlighted the huge problem statement that is almost destroying our future generation. It’s a silent killer now.  More and more people are giving utmost importance to this problem and eagerly looking for a viable solution for it. Recently few Olympians and few international cricketers from Australia & England pulled out of the famed events due to mental health issues, shows  the need of handling this state of our mind properly rather letting it destroy us.  Famous Indian actress Dipika Padukarn is another example who openly speaks about the mental health issue. It should not be a taboo, if somebody says he/she has mental health issue.

Well, we should agree that insomnia and mental health are very much inter related. Lack of sleep is the first state of mental disturbances. Whatever may be the reason, but if we don’t get proper and regular sleep, the mind stops functioning to take rational decision. Recent study shows that even if loss of one day’s sleep, it impacts the state of our mind. If somebody suffers lack of sleep for one week, it creates long term damage to state of our brain. So sleep is utmost important to keep our brain in a stable state, so that we will be able to take rational decisions.   The way we do various exercises to keep our physical state of our body, the same way sleep is the best exercise to keep the mind healthy.

Frankly speaking, I am not saying something different here. Most people know it. That’s why everybody loves their sleep. From poor to rich everybody loves their sleep.  A poor may get sleep without food or proper shelter, where as a rich may get sleep with a peg of Whisky or popping a sleeping tablet, but both love their sleep at the end of the day. Without sleep, both will be same state of mental state in few days. One may be rooming in the streets and the other may be admitted in hospitals. So sleep is the fundamental founding stone to make or break state of our mind.

 Though we know sleep is the best food that keeps out mind sound, then why such a billion dollar industry has been created, just to provide sleep? Sleep is the fundamental RIGHT of the brain. A huge industry has been created by snatching a fundamental right from us and then giving an artificial & short term experience with a price. I think this can be one of the biggest achievements of the capitalism. We became so addicted to this short term experience that without it, the very survival is questioned. So we became a slave to these multinationals till our death.

My focus here is trying to understand the fundamentals of these phenomena. The fundamental functioning of our brain and other health parameters remain same. I am trying to understand why we lose the sleep in first place? The very cause of INSOMNIA and then progression to MENTAL HEALTH? I would like to analyze the very problem statement with FIRST PRICIPLE THINKING.  When we understand it properly, we may be able to prevent it before falling in to the trap of life long slavery.

Let’s dissect the problem with a rational mind. We need to observe, what is happening in our mind so that we are not getting the sleep.  We need to observe it as a third party. The best way to be a third party to your own mind to write down in a piece of paper the happening and phenomena that has been going on. As sleep is the fundamental right of our brain, a health person nicely gets sleep when the time comes, then why this is not coming to us? There must be something that is preventing the sleep to come. We know certain types of hormones (MELATONIN) are created in our brain when we go to bed. These hormones are the root cause of making our brain sleep.  So there can be 2 issues, either the hormones are no more getting generated for any reason or the effect of hormones are nullified by some other effects in our brain.  In most cases the later part is the major cause for normal people who lose sleep for various reasons.  If we sum it up, the STRESS factor is the major reason that is nullifying the effect of MELATONIN.  So by deconstructing the problem statement from bottom up, (MENTAL HEALTH=>INSOMNIA=>LACK OF SLEEP=>STRESS) we are going deeper to find out the root cause by applying first principle thinking.  STRESS is a major part of our life in this fast paced society where quarterly results and deadline of delivery and expectation to fulfill, takes more importance than understanding the effect it cause on the very survival.

Let’s go deep into the monster STRESS. We need to analyze what is STRESS?  Let’s apply the first principle to it. STRESS is nothing but combination of various types of THOUGHTS. Unpleasant thoughts, fearful thoughts, thoughts on expectations and consequence of future, etc. So in a different language, the various kinds of thoughts are the root cause of all the negative effects that we discussed far. It’s just a bunch of random information that flows in our brain to bring the state of brain to unstable state, so the real VILLIAN.

INSOMNIA & MENTAL HEALTH – THE NEXT PANDEMIC

With the spread of globalization, the economic activities have increased many folds and have uplifted a lot of people from abject poverty. Even communist country like CHINA has accepted the globalization and got highly benefitted while creating wealth for its citizens and also becoming the factory of the world. Along with CHINA, capitalists from rich countries have also generated an enormous amount of wealth in the last 3 to 4 decades due to the increased amount of trade and commerce. However, with increased wealth, the stress factor has increased to many folds due to the pressure of performing and delivering on quarter to quarter cycle. With various tools and processes, the productivity has increased a lot, but the nature of GREED has no limit. It only knows how to get more with less time and less cost. This has brought a lot of mental health-related issues to a lot of people, as the winner takes ALL, in this type of rat race. The loser has to sacrifice big so that the winner is celebrated. The fear factor of losing and the related anticipation and burden of commitments create a huge imbalance in the mental state of people across the world. This has given a big boost to a lot of lifestyle-related diseases along with globalization.

I feel mental health is one of the major dark sides of globalization and steroid-based growth.  This has created a major health problem that is totally invisible and people fear to talk about it due to various stigma attached to it. So, it is a major silent killer in the new age globalized society.  The first symptom of mental health is SLEEP DEPRIVATION. Humans can stay hungry for few days or less food. But without SLEEP ?? Not sure how long the equilibrium of the brain can sustain. Our brain neurons will start behaving erratically to make us unstable and making us a mental health patient in no time.  So the most important and essential part of our life is sleep as the brain needs it. Recently a lot of super fits and regular gym-going corporate executives have died of cardiac arrest. They have fallen suddenly with massive heart failure making us think to find the root cause. In most cases, those people are highly successful in the corporate world while carrying life of low amount of sleep. This has brought LACK OF SLEEP/ SLEEP DEPRIVATION as a major silent killer to the forefront of the discussion of a healthy life.

As per the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)  US has already declared that insufficient Sleep is a public health problem. More than 3rd of American go through sleep deprivation. This is an alarming trend in the most developed country in the world. This is not exclusivity of US only . Other developed countries like UK, Germany, Japan and Canada are not far behind. With 24/7 modern work culture and stress factor due to globalization, use of various types of substance and lack of physical exercise has created a chronic disease among these highly educated and  productive work force.

The INSOMNIA/ LACK OF SLEEP  is the next pandemic that is in the slow and steady growth stage. It has a huge economic impact if it is not handled correctly. Sleep deprivation links to lower productivity at work and loss of workdays.  This also incubates other lifestyle diseases like Diabetics, Hypertension, BP, heart ailment, Obesity, etc. All these health problems on most productive people create a huge health care burden on the country as well on the economy. Following is a % of loss of GDP on most developed countries as per the study by RAND Europe.

With China and India most populous countries in the world, joining the economic growth bandwagon, The future data will be more devastating than as shown above. It is another major pandemic that is already on our doorsteps, which needs to be handled more delicately rather than current virus-based pandemic like CORONA.