Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few commonly asked sleep-related questions along with the responses provided by Sleep Experts


I am a post graduation student and have a lot of stress than usual. There is no problem in sleeping, but I do get a lot of dreams. So, please guide me on how to get sound sleep.

Stress and anxiety can impact sleep in several ways. At times, it can have an impact on the amount of sleep and sleep architecture itself. You report getting excessive dreams during this period-it is unclear if these are disturbing and if they have a recurring theme. Either way, excessive stress can lead to increased dreams and at times, nightmares that occur during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. In your situation, the most appropriate intervention would be to introduce relaxing and soothing sleep rituals as well as day time relaxing or meditative interventions that can help reduce your arousal threshold. In addition, maintaining good and routine sleep wake schedule and ensuring you have sufficient sleep time will help in your preparation and improve your performance in the examination. Read more about how dreams affect sleep quality.

My sleep hours mostly are from 3 am to around 11 am. Sometimes, I sleep at around 6 or 7 am. I am always on my phone and not able to give it up and often feel tried. How can it be changed?

Sleeping into the wee hours of the morning and waking up late is typical of a delayed sleep phase sleep disorder. Delayed Sleep Phase syndrome can occur secondary to several reasons- social engagements, peer pressure, work stress can all contribute to this. It is more commonly seen in adolescents and young adults. When we are unable to complete our total sleep time, we awake feeling tired and fatigued and chronically sleep deprived. Exposure to mobile phones emits blue light that reduces the ‘melatonin’ which is a sleep promoting hormone and this can cause a delay in the sleep onset. Also, this has an impact on the sleep architecture and its quality. Delayed sleep phase reaction can create several health abnormalities such as reduced immunity, increased obesity and weight gain. It is also seen coexisting with several mood disorders such as depression. Addressing social sleep hygiene and reducing screen time especially close to desired sleep time is required. In addition, maintaining strict wake up time during week days and weekends will help regulate the clock and align the circadian rhythm. Exposure of sunlight on waking up will also help strengthen the circadian drive which is regulated by the internal biological pace- maker, the superchiasmatic nucleus. Read more about How electronic devices impact our sleep.

I get sufficient sleep of 8 hours, yet I keep yawning every day. Is that normal? Please advice

There are several factors that result in excessive yawning and daytime fatigue. Sleep may be insufficient or inefficient, if you feel you are getting your required 8 hours of sleep yet are fatigued and tired during the day-it may be that the sleep quality is impaired, secondary to intrinsic sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or limb movements. In addition, each person’s sleep requirement can vary. At times, there are long sleepers, who require greater than or equal to 10 hours of sleep per night. Your ideal requirement for sleep is the amount of sleep which makes you feel refreshed on waking up. I would suggest maintaining a strict sleep log and a sleep diary and also assessing the sleep quality can help in further understanding the cause.

I am not able to get sleep even after taking sleeping pills. Please advice

Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, it has a prevalence of approximately 30%. Ideally, evaluating the cause of this is important to guide each patient’s individualized therapy. The main cornerstones of treatment are cognitive behavior therapy which is the first line followed by pharmacotherapy when appropriate. Only sleep pills are not the ideal to not getting sleep, this can lead to dependence and tolerance. You need to go to a certified doctor to identify the reason that is affecting your sleep pattern.

I wake up feeling lazy every morning, even when I have slept for 10-15 hours. Please advice

Average sleep requirement of an adult individual is 7-8 hours. According to the time period mentioned, you sleep for about 10- 15 hours and still don’t feel refreshed. I suggest you see a sleep physician to evaluate for possibility of Hypersomnia – sleep disorders that can cause this. You will be asked to maintain a sleep log, fill out sleep questionnaires, blood work up and maybe asked to undergo a sleep test called multiple sleep latency test.

What is the ideal gap between the meal and sleeping time? What time should I eat if I want to sleep at 10?

It is ideal to keep a gap of 2-3 hours between meal and bedtime. It is also very important as to the type of meal we take, avoiding heavy spicy and fried food prior to bedtime can help prevent heartburn and regurgitation. It is also advised that you sit upright or best take a walk/stroll prior to turning in for the night. If dinner has been had early, light snack, warm drink/milk prior to bedtime can be consumed. Read more about the food items that will make you sleep faster.

It always takes me 2 hours to actually fall asleep every night. Why is this happening? Is it normal?

It is certainly not normal if you take 2 hours to fall sleep- this is a form of insomnia. Appropriate intervention would be to introduce relaxing and soothing sleep rituals as well as day time relaxing or meditative interventions that can help reduce your arousal threshold. In addition, maintaining good and routine sleep wake schedule and ensuring you have sufficient sleep time.

I would also like to understand if there are any particular symptoms /sensations that you experience prior to sleeping. Is there an uncomfortable sensation in your legs at time, do you feel fidgety? Is your mind racing and you are unable to shut it down? You may need to go to a certified doctor to identify the reason that is affecting your sleep pattern, as some of the above conditions can present as insomnia. Here are some more tips for good nights sleep.

Having sleepless nights before my periods. Please advice

This is a common problem encountered by many women. The reason is abrupt fall in progesterone levels before menstrual cycle begins. In many women, the onset of Insomnia (sleeplessness) is quite predictable. So proper planning for those days is essential. Certain rules such as no exposure to blue light (TV, laptop and cell phone screen light) after 9 pm, No caffeine intake after 1 PM, regular exercise in morning will help. Warm baths, aroma therapy with drops of lavender oil on pillow at night helps. If the problem is persistent and severe enough to cause daytime consequences such as severe fatigue, then consult with sleep specialist.

Suffering from disturbed sleep due to prostate problems.

This is known as “Nocturia” & the causes for this vary depending on your gender and age. Broadly the causes are either “Urological “(i.e. related to urinary system), behavioral (drinking too much or too close to bed time or related to a sleep disorder. Sometimes it’s not the urge to pee that wakes you -- but once you’re up, you need to go. That can happen if you have restless legs syndrome, ongoing (chronic) pain, or depression. There’s also a connection between sleep apnea and having to go at night. Treating the sleep disorder usually solves the nighttime peeing problem, too. So please consult a urologist as well as sleep specialist.

How do I make sure that I am using the right mattress and while choosing a new mattress which is good for better sleep?

Immediately after waking up you should look fresh, and there should be no body aches or back pain or even pain in the neck area; that would be a suitable mattress for you. Also, the same factors would be applicable while buying a mattress. Here are more Tips for choosing right mattress.

What is the best posture to get perfect sleep? Also, I would like to wake up early in the morning, but it is not happening. Please suggest a solution.

Best postures are sleeping on all sides except on stomach. There is a biological clock in our brain called “Circadian Clock” which modulates many processes in our body including “Sleep/Wake cycle”. For you to wake up at earlier times, you will need to modify this clock. This achieved by “Circadian treatment”. You can try to do early dinner, certain rules such as no exposure to blue light (TV, laptop and cell phone screen light) after 9 pm, No caffeine intake after 1 PM, regular exercise in morning will help. Read more about the right sleep posture for you.

I work in night shifts ever day; hence my sleep cycle is disturbed. I have lunch at 12pm and sleep for 4 hours, is this fine? How do I balance my health?

No, this is not healthy. There is a biological clock in our brain called “Circadian Clock” which modulates many processes in our body including “Sleep/Wake cycle”, Hormones, digestive juice secretions etc. You are working in the night shifts, so accordingly shift the clock and you must get adequate sleep during day. Hence during day, the sleeping room should be dark, quiet. Have a light breakfast before sleep. Do evening aerobics. Try frequent snacking rather than two heavy meals. If despite of all these, you get inadequate sleep or feel tired all the time, then you are suffering from “Shift Work related Sleep Disorder” (SWSD). You will need a consult at that point.

Is sleeping in two breaks like 4 hours in the night and then another 4 hours in day correct?

You have raised a very important point. In a 24-hour cycle that is very hectic, especially when we have jobs that schedule shift work, I am often asked if sleeping in two breaks to complete the 8 hours requirement can substitute a continuous 8 hour sleep period. But I am afraid, that is not true. Our sleep is most restorative and rejuvenative when it is an ideal cumulative result of a homeostatic and circadian rhythm drive. The circadian rhythm is the day night cycle that has an impact on the human pace-maker or the suprachiasmatic nucleus present in the brain. Dependent on the circadian rhythm are several hormones such as cortisol that are important for our wellbeing. In addition, If we sleep restrict our period to 4-hour periods in the night we tend to restrict our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep period which occurs in the early morning hours and this can have an impact on our memory processing. Hence, it is important to take time out to sleep for a healthy life and maintain a 7-8 hour period of continuous sleep during the nocturnal period.

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