Times have changed. Life is no longer moving at a leisurely pace. The world is advancing rapidly and we are all over our heads trying to keep up. Whether it's at school or at work, life has definitely become more demanding. Between 14-hour workdays, there really isn't time for much else. But as it turns out, the gruelling work hours aren't enough to put Dhakaites into a coma. Instead of collapsing from exhaustion, they seem to be imitating nocturnal creatures and using the after hours to make up for their lost “me” time.
For those who covet their limited hours of slumber, this may seem odd. They may hold insomnia and stress responsible for this strange behaviour. Lets try and enlighten them.
Why do YOU stay awake at night?
“I like the lack of sunlight. I'm allergic to the sun. I also like the fact that I am not in this office-shaped TOILET that I work at every, single, day. Mostly, I like the fact that I'm in my room, holding a cup of coffee, curled up on my bed with a book or watching my favourite TV shows. Also, horror movies are great to watch at night,” sighs Ms. Possum, who is currently slaving away at a reputed advertising agency.
“It's just something I do. I'm so busy during the day that night is the only 'me' time I have. I love myself and I want my 'me' time even at the trade-off of sleep actually. I don't necessarily want to trade-off sleep, but it's the only non-monetary trade-off and I need my money, because that helps me sleep. What can I say; it's a vicious cycle,” laughs Mr. Bat-eared Fox, a dedicated sports journalist, who is currently putting in 11 hours at his work place. “ I have been pulling all-nighters ever since my university days. Before that, I was very regimented, I slept by midnight and woke up by 7am. I usually watch a lot of sports and I like to write, both for work and recreationally during the night hours.”
“I used to stay up at night to study, that's how I got into the habit,” shares Ms Firefly, who has recently completed her undergraduate programme and is now unemployed. “I have no work so I sleep during the day. The night has a special charm to it because it's so peaceful. Everyone's so busy during the day, but at night, my friends are free to talk on the phone or chat online. I also enjoy watching movies undisturbed and believe me, in our household, that is only possible at night.”
“I love facebooking when my parents are fast asleep and have no idea what I'm upto. I can be on facebook for hours at a time,” says Ms. Cyprus Spiny Mouse, a frustrated teenager, who feels that her parents are over-concerned about her facebook obsession.
“What do I do all night? Oh, I watch ‘Gossip Girl’ (an American television series), but don't use my real name when you write that,” warns Mr. Raccoon, an exceedingly bored banker. “I like prolonging the time I have to myself after work and sometimes I'm just too restless to go to bed. I like the peace and quiet, not to mention the faster Internet. I'm more of a night person really, I read, watch TV, play video games. I also get to talk to my friends who are in different time zones. I've been staying up at night for as long as I can remember, it probably started when I was in college,” he says.
“Usually, I just listen to music or surf the net. If I try to watch something, that's when I fall asleep. It's just one of those things, I always hated going to sleep at night and made a fuss about going to bed as a child. The funny thing is, I'll be all lethargic and sleepy during the day, but by the time nighttime rolls around, my energy levels just go up!” smiles Ms. Cricket, a hard working university student. “ I like nighttime because it's quieter. I live in an apartment building, and there's always some noise or the other. Cars honking, voices from the other apartments and my own, construction next door, people from the streets etc. Except of course my music blaring (but you can barely hear it from outside my room though, and I realise it's a tad hypocritical given that I just complained about the noise pollution around here). I think I've probably been staying up till dawn since the days of cramming for school during our O Level years, so I'd say since I was 14 or 15,” she explains.
“My real life begins right after midnight and I live it every night, right until sunrise. I love the silence and the absence of any form of distraction while I watch my movies or catch up on gossip with my buddies. I also catch up on my TV series on most nights. I just love knowing that nobody will be knocking on my door when an interesting plot is about to unravel. In the morning I just go back to my humdrum, colourless life,” says Ms. Nine-banded Armadillo, a despondent lawyer.
So you see, sleep disorders aren't the only culprits responsible for sleepless nights in Dhaka. Lack of leisure time, advancement and availability of technology, media exposure, not to mention sheer boredom have equal if not more dominant roles to play. Of course our night owls must keep in mind that while all-nighters are a blast, the lack of sleep does have its side effects.
Lets explore some of these. The short-term effects of sleep deprivation are, decreased alertness during the day, impaired memory and ability to think and process information and an impaired immune system. The long-term effects are slightly scarier. High blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, depression and other mood disorders, mental impairment, sexual dysfunction, obesity and not to mention an increased mortality risk.
Nothing major really, just a few things to be aware of while they carry on their nocturnal shenanigans. Enjoy!