India is a very different beast. The basic behaviour pattern that’s there in the western world is remarkably different here.

As Arianna Huffington said- “At Thrive, we break down well-being into elements like sleep, disconnecting from technology, movement, nutrition, gratitude, joy and purpose.”

And so I wanted to express my discovery of the current state here across all of these areas.

It’s no surprise that 93% of Indians are sleep deprived, getting less than 8 hours per night- as per a study conducted by a consumer products giant. The study further states that 72% of Indians are waking up one to three times per night and 87% of them say lack of sleep is affecting health.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

On the impact on productivity, the study reveals that more than 58% of Indians believe their work suffers due to lack of adequate sleep, whereas 38% have witnessed a colleague falling asleep at work.

I’ve been in that situation of seeing a teammate doze off daily in the late afternoon time and been guilty of admonishing him rather than providing much required understanding.

India is a fastest growing economy clocking the highest growth rate of more than 7% per annum as per the IMF projections for 2017 and 2018. And looks like Indians are in a hurry, perhaps at the cost of their well-being.

In true sense India is a hub of outsourcing, not only from the IT perspective but also from home functions viewpoint. As families have moved away from a joint family structure to nuclear families, parents have to raise their kids with the help of their social support system that comprises of maids, cooks, cleaners and in-house nanny, to whom the house chores and child care are outsourced on a daily basis. Though managing them is a task in itself.

While the previous finding about the wake up time at 7 am could be true for singles or couples with no children, a working parent would wake up much earlier and be lucky to have around 6 hours of sleep, provided she does sleep early in the night. There are multiple responsibilities for home management, readying children for the day, breakfast and own health routines demanding their attention in the morning.

In contrast to the standard requirements, there are many famous Indian personalities with their low sleep patterns known to the public eye, which could be challenging for the sleep-advocates; plus some blaring truths revealed

  1. Narender Modi, the current Prime Minister of India and a global icon, sleeps for a mere 3.5–4 hours per night despite his doctor friends’ recommendation of at least 5–6 hours. He does recharge himself during the day with Yoga and Pranayama though.
  2. Indra Nooyi, CEO Pepsico sleeps 4–5 hours a night and wakes up at 4 am daily. She admits to being not blessed with good sleep habits.
  3. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance and the richest man in India works for 15–18 hours per day. You can only imagine the number of hours he would sleep.
  4. Indira Gandhi, erstwhile lady Prime Minister of India, was known for her 4 hours sleep routine just like Margaret Thatcher. She was up by 4 am every morning.
  5. Shah Rukh Khan, a famous Bollywood actor also known as King Khan sleeps just 4 hours a night.
  6. In 2009, one of the youngest India CEOs- Ranjan Das who was leading SAP India, died of a heart attack. It was a shock to the industry because of his good nutrition and exercising habits. While it was attributed to stress, the real reason was debated to be the 4–5 hours of sleep, which he admitted to in an NDTV interview earlier.

There were others like him who died early and shocked the industry furthermore- Dewang Mehta (Former chairman of NASSCOM), Sunil Mehta (Senior leader NASSCOM), Arun Kumar (Chairman of Flextronics).

The trend of a hectic lifestyle driven by stress, accentuated by the lack of adequate sleep is what underlines it all.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

In fact lack of sleep is very common in India and has put India in the league of the most sleep deprived countries. A study done by Curofy, India’s social media network of doctors, around World Sleep day in 2016 revealed that 1 in 5 patients in India suffer from sleep disorders. This is also causing a rise in intake of sleeping pills which causes unwanted side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, respiratory depression, changes in appetite and impaired learning ability.

People trade off sleep for meeting with their commitments to themselves (health or work) or to their families. But they don’t realise the harm they are causing to themselves in the long run. Research has proven an inverse relationship between sleep and heart problems, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, sleep apnea; with all these conditions being either a cause or an effect of lack of proper sleep.

Coming back to the factors ruining sleep in India, the massive population provides global organisations with a multi-talented knowledge pool which they want to use towards accelerating their businesses. This often requires working in multiple shifts to support the western headquarters. This shift based culture that prevails is so evolving that the timings often change on a weekly basis, and interferes with the circadian rhythm of an individual. And this, when they are of a real young age, shakes the foundation of a long term stable career and propagates early burnout.

Even when staff don’t have to work the odd shifts, they are working on an average of 50–90 hours per week. This is at the cost of personal time, health time, family time and clearly takes a cut from sleeping time too.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The reality- attrition rates are high in India (16.3% in 2016 as per Aon Hewitt). People burnout sooner and are always looking for that next opportunity to balance their expectations.

Unfortunately the new job does the same to them unless there is a strong supportive culture from the top.

Could it be related that India also figures extremely low in the National happiness index?

(To be continued…)

Thank you for reading; this is my first piece on India (And my first article ever!). If you like it please let me know. And do leave me your valuable comments and/or suggestions for what you want to see more of in my next piece.

Many of the opinions reflected are my own and might offend some readers due to the critical observations. Forgive me if that’s the case.

Originally published at