As Hyderabad observes Sleep Awareness Month, Prabalika M Borah wakes up to the facts

How often have your spouse's loud snores compelled you to sleep on the couch? Have you videotaped your sleeping spouse to settle the “no I don't, yes you do” argument? Stop reacting to your partner's snores and start acting. Certainly your spouse's snoring keeps you awake, but he or she is not getting a good night's sleep either.

Sleep Awareness Week was observed in the UK last month and Hyderabad is now observing an entire sleep awareness month. Challa Hospital, Global Hospital and Sleep Care are conducting various activities this month to educate people on the subject.

According to the results of the Philips Sleep Survey, conducted by the Nielsen Company, 93 per cent of Indians are sleep deprived, getting less than the 8 hours of sleep they need per day. The study also suggested an astonishing 11 per cent of urban Indians took leave from work because of their lack of sleep. The survey was conducted among 5600 respondents aged 35 to 65 across 25 cities in urban India with a population of 5 lakh and up. It also revealed that 58 per cent of Indians felt their work suffered from lack of adequate sleep, with 11 per cent reporting that they actually fell asleep at work.

“Lack of sleep not only impacts the overall quality of life and productivity of a person's life but also leads to serious health issues such as increased risk of diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats among others,” explains Dr Lavanya, sleep disorder specialist at Sleep Care. “If left untreated, lack of sleep and snoring could signal a more serious condition such as obstructive sleep apnea, a condition characterised by the repeated cessation of breathing during sleep and which can potentially lead to heart disease, worsen heart failure and in rare cases even trigger heart attacks.”

Dr Lavanya says the most common sleep disorder is insomnia, and it may be caused by simple disruptions such as shifting the bed to a different place in the room or an event as severe as the loss of a loved one. The second most common disorder is sleep apnea, a period of not breathing for 10 seconds or more while sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea results from a blockage of the windpipe, which generally is caused by the tongue, tonsils, or excess tissue in the throat.

According to specialists the best way to sleep better is to train your mind about your bed. Your mind should recognize that the bed is only for sleeping in and not for catching up on work, reading, signing bills or eating.

Symptoms for apnea

Snoring with pauses in breathing cycle that may last 1 to 2 minutes

Choking and gasping for breath during sleep that may cause you to awaken

Unusual sleepiness, irritability and decreased energy levels during the day

Interrupted sleep patterns, insomnia, and headache upon awakening

Inability to ‘get a good night's

Sleep Apnea: Risks and remedies

If untreated, sleep apnea can lead to insulin resistance, paralytic stroke, heart attacks or heart failure. Sleep specialists suggest .the following remedies:

Avoid alcohol several hours before sleep

Quit smoking

Lose excess weight

Use a pillow designed to keep your head at an angle that will help keep your airways open

Avoid sleeping pills

Try a dental appliance designed to keep your airways open

Sleep on your side