Sleep on it

A recent study claims 3 in 4 Argentinians suffer from some form of sleep disturbance.

Over 75% of Argentinians are suffering from some form of sleep disturbance, according to a recent study published by the University of Buenos Aires. Although the triggers for these issues have multiple causes, Dr. Martín Etchevers, who participated in the study, said that there is evidence that people living in countries in financial crisis are more prone to suffer anxiety and depression, which, in turn, triggers sleep disturbances.

“There are several studies showing that Argentinians were sleeping less than other nationalities, even before the pandemic,” explained a psychiatrist in Buenos Aires, “then the pandemic struck and there were changes in habits: people were at home all the time, they slept at times when they did not before, they spent (and continue to spend) a much greater number of hours in front of computers, for everything, for work, for socialising, even for physical exercise. Add to this the stress and anxiety cause by Argentina’s economic situation and it is clear to see why people are not sleeping.”

According to the Latin American Sleep Society, between 40 and 60 million adults in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina suffer from sleep disorders. Moreover, 15% of the population in these countries report chronic insomnia while 40% experience short-term difficulties. Lifestyle changes including longer working hours, concerns over income, smart phone interaction, and an increase alcohol consumption are also key factors.

Lifestyle is just one cause of insomnia, which is a complicated illness, according to the psychiatrist, “First a clarification, there are many types of insomnia, and each one has a different cause. Insomnia can be a chronic disorder but it can also be a temporary symptom of another problem. This variety of causes can make diagnosis and treatment challenging, it is often necessary to work with psychological, lifestyle, and emotional factors that can go back a long way. It is also important to note that insomnia often does not come alone. It can come with stress, with depression, or with one of the many emotional conditions that exist. Or even with clinical factors. Insomnia is very complex.”

“There are many types of insomnia, and each one has a different cause. Insomnia can be a chronic disorder but it can also be a temporary symptom of another problem.”

Psychiatrist, Argentina

A separate study by RAND Europe, a not-for-profit research institute, revealed that half of adults worldwide will suffer some form of insomnia symptoms at some point in their life, while 8% will suffer from chronic insomnia. The study also concluded that a lack of understanding of the societal effects of sleeping disorders is hindering the opportunity to intervene in the identification of interventions to improve the health, well-being, and productivity of individuals.

Sleeping patterns have radically changed over the last five decades. Argentineans slept an average of eight hours per day in the 1950s compared to six hours in the 2010s. These new habits can have a negative impact on the economic performance of countries as insufficient sleep can result in lower labour productivity and GDP losses. In this context, a RAND Europe cross-country comparative analysis showed that a person sleeping six to seven hours loses almost four working days per year than those who sleep eight.

“15% of absenteeism in Argentina in 2021 was attributable to sleep-related illnesses, resulting in higher business costs and a negative economic impact.”

Psychiatrist, Argentina

“The link between a country’s economic performance and sleep characteristics is very interesting,” explained the psychiatrist, “it obviously affects productivity but quantifying that isn’t straightforward. There is some data that could help, 15% of absenteeism in Argentina in 2021 was attributable to sleep-related illnesses, resulting in higher business costs, and a negative economic impact. This is one of the reasons that companies are taking mental health issues much more seriously now.”

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