About 10 per cent in city affected by sleep disorders

Many Bengalureans doze off through the day because of problems such as sleep apnea

Sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder, is on the rise in Bengaluru, according to doctors.

The condition refers to sleep being disturbed because of difficulty in breathing.

A gradual increase in awareness is contributing to the rising number of patients, says Dr Shantanu Tandon, senior consultant (ENT), Sakra World Hospital.

“Though the disorder was commonly seen among 55-year-olds and above earlier, it is now a common ailment among 25 to 40-year-olds, which is an alarming trend. Almost 30 per cent of the city’s population snores, of which one-third, ie 10 per cent, suffers from sleep apnea or other sleep disorders,” he says.

A deviated septum or enlarged tonsils and factors related to the structure of the face could be a reason for sleep disorders, he adds.

“When the back of one’s tongue is bulky, it falls which could be blocking the airway that can be a root cause,” says Dr Tandon.

Lifestyle choices like excessive drinking can lead to sloppiness of muscles of the breathing passage, he adds.

“When you sleep on your back, the loose tissues have a tendency to collapse inwards, decreasing the space further,” he says.

Dr Hirennappa B Udnur, sleep specialist and consultant pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, says the most common sleep disorder is insomnia caused by hectic work schedules.

“Many people who work on night shifts suffer from circadian rhythm (biological clock) disturbance. Daylight does not allow people to sleep well, and over the years, sleep patterns are disturbed. Six to eight hours of sleep is good for most individuals but due to such disturbances they end up not sleeping well,” he says.

Sleep walking and teeth grinding are other common disorders. “Sleep apnea is a common disorder. It has become more prevalent in the past decade due to lifestyle changes. One turns irritable and becomes prone to accidents because of it,” he adds.

Obesity is one of the main factors that lead to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) worldwide, points out Dr Sunil Kumar K, consultant-interventional pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital.

“Anybody who spends a lot of time in front of the computer, doesn’t follow a good diet and has a sedentary lifestyle, is prone to OSA. In the Indian context, facial dysmorphism is another reason which can lead to this disorder,” he says.

The shape of the face adds to the problem. Relaxation of muscles makes the air passage narrow and leads to a significant amount of snoring. In due course, the airways collapse and cause choking, he explains.

Repeated episodes can lead to hypertension and diabetes, he warns.

Dr Udnur says people with sleep apnea are more prone to strokes and heart attacks. “A pulmonologist needs to be consulted to observe sleep cycles and suggest corrective measures like weight reduction,”
he says.

Former CM also had sleep apnea

Siddaramaiah, former chief minister, was often referred to as the sleeping CM of Karnataka as he would doze off at meetings. He then disclosed he had sleep apnea and was practising yoga to deal with it.

Sleep apnea

  • If you are a chronic snorer, don’t sleep on your back. Sleep on your sides or even on your stomach.
  • Avoid binge drinking as a sudden relaxation of muscles can cause worsening of your problem.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • If you notice subtle symptoms like drowsiness or falling asleep even amidst activity, get medical attention.

Road accidents

Accidents are sometimes caused by sleep deprivation and drivers sleeping behind the wheel. A large number of people say they take a quick nap at work but some fall asleep at busy road signals.
- Dr Shantanu Tandon, Obstructive sleep apnea specialist

Identify sleep apnea

Anybody who snores, wakes up early in the morning feeling lethargic, experiences low energy levels through the day and dozes off could have sleep apnea.
- Dr Sunil Kumar K, Interventional pulmonologist

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About 10 per cent in city affected by sleep disorders

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