September 28, 2009 09:13
Growing numbers of Koreans find it hard to go to sleep. According to the National Health Insurance Corporation, the number of patients who suffer symptoms of sleep apnea or insomnia increased 4.5 times from 51,000 in 2001 to 228,000 in 2008.
In a report released by the OECD in May, Korea ranked at the bottom with an average sleep time of seven hours and 49 minutes, a figure that includes babies and infants, among 18 countries surveyed. The average sleep time in the OECD was eight hours and 22 minutes.
A survey by the Sleep Center of Korea University's Ansan Hospital in 2008 found that about 70 percent of adults go to sleep after midnight and sleep six hours and 18 minutes on average a day, compared to the recommended hours of seven-and-a-half.
The media culture often hails celebrities who claim to sleep no more than three hours a night, and efforts to cut down on sleep are considered synonymous with diligence. But chronic lack of sleep reduces concentration and memory, which in turn can lead to traffic accidents or problems with study or work, while increasing the risks of obesity, diabetes, cardiac disorders and depression, said Hong Seung-bong, a professor of neurosurgery at Samsung Medical Center.
Park Sang-jin, a professor of psychiatry at NHIC's Ilsan Hospital said, "It seems the number of sleep disorder victims has increased due to worries or anxiety disorders, depression, and stress caused by the recession and the job crisis."
But not many victims seek treatment. Experts say a mere 5 percent of them visit hospitals for treatment. The glorification of hard work understood as spending long hours at the desk means many people do not regard sleep disorder as a disease but rather think favorably of short periods spent idly in bed.
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