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India Sleeping over Sleep, 93% Indians are sleep deprived

Dr Piyush Srivastava: Sound sleep is very important for a healthy life along with a balanced diet and adequate exercise.However, in today’s fast paced world, most people have a tendency to take health issues lightly until it reaches an aggravated stage.We all know the value of sleeping well, and have experienced the feeling of being refreshed after a good night’s sleep.

In spite of knowing this, our busy work life schedules do not permit us to have the required quality six to eight hours of sleep that our bodies need. Poor sleeping habits and lack of adequate amount of sleep leads to poor health which decreases the quality of life. Sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens the health and quality of life for up to 45% of the world’s population. According to a sleep study in 2009 over 93% of Indians are sleep deprived.Sleep disorders is a growing concern in India with Obstructive Sleep Apnea being the most commonly prevalent in the country.

The number of people in India suffering from OSA is strongly underestimated. However, several research studies suggest that prevalence of OSA in the Indian population is about 13% and also the incidence is three fold higher in men as compared to women. Of the 13%,only 4% go to a doctor with symptoms leaving a majority of the population undiagnosed and untreated.

Patients suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea have pauses in their breath while they are asleep and are forced to wake up to catch their breath. This incidence is repeated several times during the night, and the next morning the person wakes up extremely tired and sluggish despite spending adequate hours in bed. The fact that he has been awakened several times during the slumber severely compromises the quality of sleep.

Over a period of time enormous sleep deficit accumulates and the hapless patient can sleep anywhere: in the elevator, between meetings, behind the wheels and even as a pillion rider, which could be lethal and fatal for the patient and others.

One of the most common signs of OSA is loud and chronic snoring.While most people know that snoring is a sleep disorder very few consult with their doctor about the same. This can be accompanied by pauses in the snoring followed by either chokes or gasps.Some other signs of sleep apnea are:

  • Fatigue and headache in the morning after sleeping through the night
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times such as during meetings or while driving
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Memory loss and learning difficulties
  • Short attention span
  • Impaired judgment, depression and reduced sexual ability

Ignoring the obvious signs of OSA and not getting the required help at an early stage could be very detrimental to the overall health of the patient. OSA has been clinically proven to have a very high correlation to a number of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Treating Sleep Apnea has shown to improve quality of life which could reduce the risks of associated comorbidities. If diagnosed at an early stage and the treatment is carried out effectively, its positive effects manifest themselves in a variety of areas in a person’s life. It improves patients’ overall quality of life with enhanced psychomotor vigilance and puts an end to daytime sleepiness and lethargy.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is potentially a serious disorder, hence it is important to immediately consult with a doctor if you spot any of the warning signs. An official diagnosis may require visiting a sleep specialist and taking a home-based sleep test. A home sleep test is the most convenient and comfortable way to get your diagnosis.A home sleep test is done with the help of a device that measures certain parameters while you are sleeping to detect OSA and hence, is a convenient and comfortable way to get your diagnosis.

The theme for this year’s World Sleep Day is ‘Good Sleep is a Reachable Dream’. However, only 1/3rd of the World Population seeks professional help. Let us pledge to a healthier life. To be more aware of our sleeping habits and patterns and consciously work towards restoring our natural, refreshing and healthy sound sleep.

Writer is MD, Pulomary and Critical Care

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