Students take to anti-sleep pills in exam season in India - GulfToday

Students take to anti-sleep pills in exam season in India

exam stress

Picture used for illustrative purspose only.

Prajakta Swarup, a Class 10 student, underwent a major brain surgery for a clot that led to swelling of nerves, last week.The girl had been staying up all night preparing for her board  examinations. Her mother had been giving her steaming cups of coffee to help her stay awake.

Prajakta collapsed one evening and was hospitalised. Her parents later found a bottleful of pills in her drawer and when they handed them over to the doctor, they were shocked to learn that their daughter had been on anti-sleep pills.

"Shocking though it may sound, an increasing number of students, today, are taking these anti-sleep pills that help them stay awake during examinations. This is a very dangerous trend and the drugs are being smuggled in from places like Bangkok,"  said a leading neurosurgeon Dr Sharad Srivastava.

"These drugs can have dangerous side effects, especially if taken with an overdose of caffeine - too many cups of coffee - as it happened in Prajakta’s case,” said Srivastava.

According to the doctor, these drugs are being sold over the counters with names like ‘chuniya’ and ‘meethi.’

"These are variants of Modafinil that is said to improve memory, and enhance one's mood, alertness and cognitive powers. The drug has a smoother feel than amphetamines and enables the user to stay awake and alert for 40 hours or more at a stretch. Once the drug wears off, you just have to catch up on some sleep,” said another medical practitioner.

A chemist, Surinder Kohli, admitted that the sale of anti-sleep pills, memory enhancers has shot up for the past one month.

"Customers are ready to pay any amount for these drugs. They also buy energy drinks to ward off fatigue,” he said but parried questions about the legality of over-the-counter selling of these drugs.

Modafinil, sold under the brand name Provigil, among others, is mainly used in treatment of disorders such as narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, idiopathic hypersomnia, and excessive daytime sleepiness associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr RK Saxena, a well-known psychiatrist, said that the increasing trend of students using anti-sleep pills during examinations was actually a result of growing stress and peer pressure.

"There is immense pressure on children to score high percentages so that they can get admissions in good colleges. The children are berated if they get even half a per cent less than their friends.

"The pressure to score 98 and 99 per cent in board examinations is slowly killing them. Parents should accept the fact that such high percentages can be unrealistic and not every child can score these marks,” he said.

Indo-Asian News Service

Related articles