x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Specialist warns on effects of disrupted sleep

People are more likely to have accidents and get into arguments post-Ramadan as they try to adjust to their sleeping patterns.

Abu Dhabi // People are more likely to have accidents and get into arguments post-Ramadan as they try to adjust to their sleeping patterns, a specialist has warned. It may take several days to adapt and the transition may trigger changes in personality and lapses in concentration. People often sleep more during the holy month because their working hours are shorter. As they return to a normal schedule, many will find it difficult to get up early and stay alert throughout the day, said Dr Khaldoun Mozahem, a neurologist from the American Center of Psychiatry and Neurology who specialises in sleep medicine.

"The brain is able to adjust to any situation you create," Dr Mozahem said. "The problem when you create an unhealthy situation is that while you can adjust for some time, after that you will fail." Sleep disruption can affect everything from how people get along with each other to their driving habits: "It will affect your relationships, how you deal with others. You will find it hard to relate to others and get into arguments over more things. Your concentration will wander and you might get into a car accident."

Drivers should pull over if they feel their eyes drooping, Dr Mozahem said. He warned that drinking caffeine, rolling down the window or playing loud music have no effect on the ability to remain alert. People in their 40s and 50s should gradually adjust their sleeping hours until they return to normal, the doctor said. Younger people respond better to a sudden shift back to their usual patterns. Everyone should be careful not to push themselves too far, he said.

"We were created to sleep at night and work during the day. Basically, if you exhaust yourself you reach a point where you won't be able to wake up when you need to." People who have trouble sleeping should go into another room "and read a boring book", he advised. "We ask them not to work on their computer because the flashes on the screen might stimulate the brain and cause insomnia." amcmeans@thenational.ae