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Sleep Apnoea

Long working hours and exciting social lives are part of modern day living and many of us do burn the candle at both ends. Most people need 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night to feel refreshed, however some people feel constantly tired, no matter how many hours they spend in bed.

Daytime sleepiness, fatigue, frequent desire for naps, morning headaches, irritability, insomnia, poor memory and concentration can lead to problems at work and within the family, however despite a busy social and work life these symptoms may not necessarily be the result of an enthusiastic lifestyle.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a common, underdiagnosed condition which results in insufficient, good quality deep sleep whilst apparently asleep in bed. The disorder is characterized by obstruction and collapse of the upper airway during sleep, which results in complete cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or more (apnoea) during which time no air can pass to the lungs. Blood oxygen levels fall, leading to the sufferer moving from a deep level of sleep to a shallower one. This cycle of events can repeat itself many times during the night, completely destroying normal sleep patterns. Some sufferers wake up completely, but in some cases the airway is only partially obstructed, reducing airflow to as little as 50% of normal (hypopnoea). Whilst not as severe as apnoea, hypopnoea also disrupts the level of sleep. In most cases it is a combination of apnoea and hypopnoea which is responsible for the overall condition.

OSA is estimated to affect up to 4% of the general population, with men suffering more commonly than women in the under 50s (over the age of 50 the incidence is the same for men and women). More shockingly, it is estimated that only 10% of people with obstructive sleep apnoea are currently receiving treatment. Obesity is also a risk factor, 70% of obese people have OSA, which worsens in severity as BMI increases.

Disrupted sleep results in poor concentration, slow thinking and poor memory during the day. Studies have shown that this can result in more accidents in the work place, with people suffering from OSA having a three-fold increased risk of having a car accident when compared to the general population. If untreated, OSA is also associated with an increased risk of a number of other medical conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, heart failure and cardiac rhythm abnormalities, which may lead to premature death.

For more information on sleep apnoea, or to make an appointment if you are experiencing any symptoms, please contact the clinic.