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Always sleepy at work? You may have sleep apnoea

Ishi Khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being,one should integrate physical,mental and spiritual health. According to her: “To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all.”

Written by Ishi Khosla |
March 19, 2012 3:46:20 am

Good sleep is essential for good health. However,many people suffer from sleep problems which can vary from mild disturbances to chronic sleep issues including sleep apnoea,insomnia and restless leg syndrome. Of these,sleep apnoea is a potentially serious condition which can degrade quality of life – physically,mentally or emotionally and is being increasingly attributed to faulty lifestyles.

Sleep apnoea is a common disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly. Breathing pauses can last from a few minutes to an hour,and one feels tired even after a full nights’ sleep. Typically,normal breathing starts again with a loud or choking sound. Sleep becomes light and shallow during breathing pauses. Poor quality of sleep makes one tired and is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness. Often going undiagnosed,sleep apnoea can happen in adults,children and is more common in overweight individuals.

Sleep apnoea is of three types:

* Obstructive sleep apnoea is more common and occurs when throat muscles relax.

* Central sleep apnoea occurs when the brain does not send proper signals to the muscles which control breathing.

* Complex sleep apnoea is a combination obstructive and central sleep apnoea.

Signs and symptoms

* Excessive daytime sleepiness

* Loud snoring

* Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep

* Abrupt waking up due to shortness of breath

* Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat

* Morning headache

* Insomnia

Consult your physician if these symptoms persist.

Known health implications

* Impaired insulin metabolism (insulin resistance) even in non-diabetic and non-obese people

* Obesity

* High blood pressure

* Cardiac problems including abnormal heart rhythm,stroke,heart failure

* Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

* Depression

* Memory problems

* Inability to concentrate

* Increased incidence of accidents at work place,traffic

Sleep apnoea is a chronic condition and requires long-term management,lifestyle changes including diet,exercise,mouth pieces,breathing devices and even surgery. Weight loss in those who are overweight is critical and helps to cure significantly.

A low glycaemic-index,carbohydrate-controlled diet rich in fiber and phytochemicals with adequate amount of lean protein,healthy fat like (mono-unsaturated fat – MUFA and omega-3 fats),along with physical exercise is vital.

Ideal Diet

* Choose optimum amounts of carbohydrates and fats

* Follow the half plate rule: At least half the plate should be vegetables and fruits

* Decrease refined carbohydrates- maida,polished rice,bread and bakery products

* Avoid added sugars from sweets,sweetened beverages,fruit juices & cocktails

* Combine high glycemic-index foods like wheat and rice with low glycemic-index foods like oats,barley,pulses and nuts

* Choose lean sources of protein: Pulses,soybean,tofu,egg,chicken and fish and lean cuts of meat

* Include good fats through nuts,seeds,cold pressed oils and fatty fish

* Avoid trans fats found in commercial bakery and fried foods

* Eat small meals frequently

Avoid long gaps and do not skip meals

* Snack on fresh fruits,nuts,seeds and low fat dairy products

* Avoid large meals especially before sleeping. Big meals can disrupt sleep,lead to discomfort,cause heart burn

* Eat ideally 3-4 hours before going to bed or at least 2 hours before bedtime

* If you cannot resist unhealthy food,restrict yourself to smaller portions or balance in subsequent meals

* Limit or avoid alcohol as excessive alcohol can worsen insulin resistance

* Engage in regular physical activity as it helps improve insulin resistance

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