As World Sleep Day was celebrated globally on Friday, Nakhon Ratchasima Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital revealed that up to 19 million Thais suffer from sleep deprivation.
Hospital director Dr Kitkawee Pono warned people suffering from insomnia to seek the advice of a doctor if they get insufficient sleep for two weeks and not to buy over-the-counter medicines or use other patients' medicine to cure the symptom themselves.
Such action does not tackle the problem at the source and wouldn't be effective in the long run while the symptom could escalate to a two-times-higher risk of having clinical depression, Kitkawee said.
He urged people to call the Mental Health Department's hotline 1323 for advise around the clock.
Kitkawee said that while about two billion people worldwide suffer various degrees of insomnia, some 30 per cent of the Thai population – or up to 19 million – suffered, mostly for a short period. About 10 per cent of these people suffered chronic insomnia with some conditions lasting for months.
He said the most cited reasons for such sleep deprivation were physical or mental health issues such as arthritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease or tremendous stress, as well as environment factors such as noise.
The average person could have one to two sleepless nights per week, he said, but it would become a problem when the condition persists every night for more than two weeks.
"The problem is sleep-deprived people still lack a good understanding hence they were focusing on the symptom more than the cause," he said.
He said the hospital found that nearly all insomnia patients bought over-the-counter or online medicines while some used other patients' medicines to cure themselves before deciding to seek a doctor's advise.
He said self treatment was dangerous as insomnia treatments differed due to individual's cause. Leaving insomnia untreated could escalate to a more severe danger such as the two-time-higher risk of having clinical depression, while worsening the persons' underlying illness such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or dementia.
World Sleep Day has been celebrated for 12 years and is an internationally recognised awareness event that promotes healthy sleep and calls for action on important sleep issues. This year, the event was celebrated in 70 countries with the theme, ‘Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging,’ emphasising the importance of sleep in overall health at any age.