Mumbai: One of every five patients in India suffers from the sleeping disorder, as per a study and about 20.3 per cent patients visiting doctors for such issues ask for sleeping pills. Many patients suffer from sleep disturbances, the reasons for which include hectic schedule, night shifts, and high-stress levels. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) seems to be one of the most common sleep disorders.
OSA is a disorder in which there are brief and repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep because of the muscles at the back of the throat press down on the upper airway. Some of the causes include being overweight, small upper airway, large tongue, and tonsils.
Sleep disorder is a much more serious issue than what most people understand, especially given their direct correlation with other serious conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke etc. In a country where snoring is traditionally associated with sound sleep, it is extremely challenging to make people aware that it is a sign of a serious sleep disorder.
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Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) said OSA is the most common types of sleep disorders a noticeable sign of which is snoring. The low blood oxygen levels and disturbed sleep occurring due to OSA can lead to heart disease. About half of those with OSA have high blood pressure.
“It is more common in men and chances of its occurrence increase with ageing. It could also be genetic, and people of certain ethnicities are more prone to it than others. This condition is also more common in people with a large neck circumference greater than 17 inches for men, and 15 inches for women,” added Dr Aggarwal.
Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep, waking up abruptly, waking up with dry or sore throat, morning headache, difficulty concentrating, mood changes, high blood pressure, nighttime sweating, and decreased libido.
Dr Aggarwal said it is important to watch out for certain symptoms and consult a specialist if you consistently feel tired and groggy through the day.
A sleep study (called nocturnal polysomnography) is carried out at an overnight sleep laboratory. By recording brain waves, eye and leg movements, oxygen levels, airflow, and heart rhythm during sleep, it can help in diagnosing this condition. While extreme cases may require surgery, certain lifestyle changes can help avoid this condition or prevent it from getting worse.”
A senior doctor said adults in the age group of 18-24, think differently. They are less likely to have a set bedtime yet reported getting more sleep each night. They are also more likely to feel guilty about not maintain good sleep habits. They are also more likely to have taken steps to improve their sleep.
Dr Sonam Solanki, Nightingales, Home health care service said, “The symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring, morning headaches, hypertension, dyslipidemia, waking up feeling tired and daytime sleepiness. The first step to addressing this problem is to overcome any embarrassment you feel about your snoring and learn to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea.”
“Obesity is one of the common causes for sleep apnea it is associated with the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. While sleeping the throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed, and can lead to blocking the airway accidentally,” said Dr Solanki.
- Try losing excess weight as even a 10 percent loss can make a difference.
- Do not consume alcohol or sleeping pills. These can cause the airways to collapse during sleep and lengthen the time you are unable to breathe well.
- Try sleeping on your side instead of the back.
- Avoid nasal sprays as any sinus problems or congestion can make it harder for you to breathe.