Early to bed, early to rise, makes the man healthy, wealthy and wise”. This famous quote by Benjamin Franklin stands very apt, as a proper healthy nighttime sleep will lead to a successful lifestyle. For ages, sleep has astounded scientists due to its intricacies. To date even after so much research, the proper nature, need and advantages are still pondered. Reference of sleep disorder can be found in the impeccable observation of Charles Dickens famous story in the Pickwick papers as Joe the fat boy, who was suffering from sleep apnoea.
Even in Ramayana, Kumbhakarana used to sleep 6 months was described as a huge, fat, giant who used to wake up after his appetite used to goes down. The link between appetite and sleep centre was probably known, as currently it is known through experiments that area of brain i.e. Lateral thalamus is involved in sleep-wake cycle correlating with food intake. Sleep deprivation tends to cause excessive weight gain leading to obesity and possibly other metabolic disorders such as Diabetes.
In Indian culture, a person who sleeps more is considered to be happy and prosperous. However excessive daytime sleepiness could be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea. Risk factors such as male gender, post-menopausal women, small jaw bone size, and enlarged tonsil etc may contribute to upper airway collapse leading to sleep apnea. Even snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. So all snorers are having OSA(obstructive sleep apnea)??, probably not, however, a proper medical examination is required.
Apnoea as defined as a temporary cessation of breathing leads to sleep fragmentation which in turn causes a lack of nighttime sleep causing frequent awakening and excessive daytime somnolence. This fragmentation can be micro fragmentation which does not lead to a proper awakening i.e. getting out of the bed, however leads to tremendous fatigue of the brain due to improper sleep.
Symptoms such as restless sleep, Waking up choking or gasping, morning headaches, dry mouth, or sore throat, Waking up often to urinate, Waking up feeling unrested or groggy, trouble thinking clearly or remembering things can happen due to OSA. Apart from reduced quality of work and compromised lifestyle, OSA can lead to Type 2 diabetes, neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular and fatty liver like complications. As per the national Indian survey, OSA is prevalent in almost 6-11% of the population which goes unnoticed due to the subtle nature of the disease.
In the USA, it is estimated that an OSA patient is 4 times more likely to cause a road traffic accident. The first and foremost need is to detect and consider it as a treatable disease. Treatment of this disorder leads to a phenomenal change in the quality of work and improves lifestyle.
The treatment is often weight reduction, lifestyle changes and most importantly external pressure devices which are to be worn at night time. These devices splint the airway and open it for proper breathing. Next time you see an obese person sleeping and snoring in a waiting area/meeting/online conference, please don’t jeer at the person instead help him/her to get evaluated for OSA.
Together we can stop this silent, subtle and slow killer.