Sleepless in Shanghai

When it comes to technology most of our electronics are “Made in China” so it does not surprise me in the slightest to read that sleep disorders are on the rise in China.

An article published in the Strait Times focussed in on a Chinese man called Xing Yan who started to experience insomnia for the first time, out of nowhere. Yan was quoted in saying that he developed insomnia shortly after heavy pressure from work caused him to work longer hours, he could not fall asleep at night and stayed awake until dawn. Yan works in a bank and is exposed to high levels of stress and artificial light for most of his day. Yan would go to work before sun rise and typically return home after dark from a long day of stressful work at the bank. Yan rarely saw the sun, his day was characterised as working under an artificial sun for 12-14 hours a day. No wonder this poor man cannot sleep, his brain thinks it is midday 24/7.

As workloads increase in positions across China due to the fact that many workers have to support multiple generations financially, we will sadly see more cases similar to Mr. Yan’s, as chronic exposure to artificial light increases. Yin needs to manage his lighting environment better if he insists on working for such long hours exposed to the alien sun, he needs BLUblox blue light reducing glasses as a bare minimum.

Yan’s doctor gave him some advice akin to telling someone who is overweight to simply eat less, he was told to fix his wake up and bed times. Sleep and wake times are not something that should be set manually, they will occur naturally through a well entrained circadian clock. A well entrained circadian clock is made through morning sunlight exposure, proper meal timings and feeding patterns and artificial light management. This will then fix your wake up times to the sunrise and bed times to a fixed time, you cannot simply tell someone to fix them, the advice is useless and the individual will be set up to fail.

The director of the Sleep Medicine Centre based in China are seeing over 100 patients a day specially with sleep related concerns, and they are struggling to keep up with the constantly increasing number of cases. Ironically Mr. Sun as the chief doctor is called needs to prescribe a dose of his own surname rather than telling people to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day.

When we look at the professions of those suffering from insomnia in China a staggering 16% work in IT yet Chinese doctors can still not make the link between artificial blue light from LED backlit digital devices and sleep disorders. 60% of the people with sleep disorders were born after 1990, the millennial generation who have grown up with more technology that the previous generation.

China needs to quickly figure out that excessive artificial light is causing their rising rates of sleep disorders. If they do not, they will end up in the same obesigenic, metabolic diseases stricken state as the rest of the developed world finds itself in today.

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