The Indian Association of Surgeons of Sleep Apnea will undertake a pan-India study of sleep apnea to record the incidence of the disorder in the general population.
“We are not screening the population, which is already facing this problem. We want to get a sense of how acute it is in the general population,” said Dr Seemab Shaikh, founder national president of the Indian Association of Surgeons of Sleep Apnea, which is preparing a questionnaire to record authentic data about the disorder.
World Sleep Day is held on March 15 to raise awareness about sleep as a human privilege that is often compromised by modern lifestyle habits.
“There is a need to reduce the burden of sleep problems in society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders,” said Shaikh, adding, “The seriousness of the problem can also be gauged when marriage counsellors often refer couples to our clinics for treatment for snoring. It impacts the overall health of the person and sleep deprivation when one partner is snoring, and can lead to irritability.”
But he admitted that there was little data on the extent of this problem in the general population. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It is likely that one has sleep apnea if he/she snores loudly and feels tired even after a full night’s sleep.
One of the common forms of this disorder is obstructive sleep apnea and its prevalence is thought to be increasing due to the obesity epidemic.
Disorders like diabetes and hypertension get normalised when obstructive sleep apnea is treated, he said. According to the Centre for Disease Control, more than a third of adults get less than seven hours sleep a night. According to a study published in Science Daily, at least 936 million people worldwide are estimated to be affected by OSA.
The study suggests that sleep apnea may impair the brain’s capacity to either encode or consolidate certain types of life memories, which makes it hard for people to recall details from the past. Shaikh pointed out that this was a medical disorder that required solutions.
“We do not have enough data and on an average, 7 to 8 per cent of the general population is estimated to have this condition. So our all-India survey will be crucial to make accurate estimates,” he said. Shaikh and his team are also planning to work on setting up standardised guidelines of treatment that can be applied across the country.
“Americans and Europeans have guidelines on the treatment protocol. We are undertaking this study so that the treatment protocol is set in place in our country,” he said.
Meanwhile, experts have stressed the need to create a sleep-friendly environment. Eliminating noise distractions, having a light dinner and switching off mobile phones at night can help induce good sleep.