Sound sleep at night offers several benefits. It boosts your capability to learn, controls your metabolic process and reduces mental fatigue, allowing people to work efficiently during the day. Disruptive sleep affects daytime alertness and functioning and can be a cause for concern.
GN Focus highlights some common sleep disorders and speaks to doctors in the UAE on prevention and treatment options.
Causes: Related to the anatomy of the mouth and nose, sedating medications, allergy or cold and obesity.
There is no drug treatment for adults, except in paediatric snoring or sleep apnea where some anti-allergic medicines or Montelukast can help. If there is an anatomical problem of the face or mouth, it can be corrected by surgery or some devices
Symptoms: Noisy breathing while sleeping, feeling choked, excessive daytime sleepiness or tiredness in the morning, and signs of obstructive sleep apnea.
Occurrence: Dr Trilok Chand (in picture below), Specialist, Respiratory Medicine, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, says, “Snoring is directly related to obesity and weight gain, so the prevalence is high in the UAE. In a recent report, WHO states that 67 per cent of Emirati men and 72 per cent of Emirati women are overweight, and about 39.9 per cent of UAE women and 25.6 per cent of men are obese.
Treatment: Weight reduction helps reduce the incidence of snoring. Dr Chand says, “There is no drug treatment for adults, except in paediatric snoring or sleep apnea where some anti-allergic medicines or Montelukast can help. If there is an anatomical problem of the face or mouth, it can be corrected by surgery or some devices.”
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Causes: Excess weight, with fat deposit around the upper airway obstructing breathing. Besides, the risk of incurring OSA is up to two to three times higher among males.
Symptoms: Loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, observed episodes of stopped breathing, abrupt awakening accompanied by gasping or choking and morning headaches.
For mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and bedtime, quitting smoking, avoiding sedatives, caffeine and heavy meals, and alcohol before bedtime, will work.
Occurrence: Dr Kavitha Devi, Specialist Pulmonologist, Medcare Hospital Sharjah, says, “One recent study conducted at a primary healthcare centre in Dubai showed the incidence in males is 22 per cent and 19 per cent in females.”
Treatment: “For mild cases, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and bedtime, quitting smoking, avoiding sedatives, caffeine and heavy meals, and alcohol before bedtime, will work,” says Dr Devi. “Moderate to severe cases benefit from using a machine called continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP.”
Causes: Acute stress, medication or substance abuse, poor sleep habits, changes in one’s sleep environment, and multiple medical, psychiatric, sleep, or neurological disorders.
About 45 per cent of UAE residents have sleep disorders with obstructive sleep apnea being the most common and insomnia coming second. Both disorders can co-exist. It is estimated to be about 30 per cent of the population.
Symptoms: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep accompanied by impaired daytime function.
Occurrence: The prevalence of insomnia is very high in the UAE. Dr Mazen Zouwayhed (right), a pulmonary critical care consultant at American Hospital Dubai, says, “About 45 per cent of UAE residents have sleep disorders with obstructive sleep apnea being the most common and insomnia coming second. Both disorders can co-exist. It is estimated to be about 30 per cent of the population.”
Treatment: Dr Zouwayhed says good sleep hygiene will help mitigate the effects of insomnia. “Besides, avoidance of substances that interfere with sleep like coffee or tea before bedtime, setting up sleep and wake-up times and optimisation of comfort of the sleep environment are essential.”
Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
Causes: Primary RLS (without any specific purpose) and Familial RLS (which runs in families). Other reasons are iron deficiency anaemia, kidney disease, diabetes, neuropathy and multiple sclerosis and pregnancy.
Do activities that keep your mind alert during the day, such as crossword puzzles, and exercise regularly. Taking a massage or a warm bath will help
Symptoms: Uncomfortable urge to move one’s legs while resting, leading to the urge to indulge in some activity including crawling and pulling. Symptoms generally worsen at night, including involuntary movement of legs while sleeping, leading to sleep deprivation.
Occurrence: Dr Vishal Pawar, Specialist Neurologist, Aster Clinic, Discovery Gardens, says, “I do see a case every 15 days. That said, many patients still don’t know this is a neurological disorder and treat the symptoms with home remedies. There is less awareness on checking for iron deficiency and starting specific drugs for RLS.”
Treatment: “Do activities that keep your mind alert during the day, such as crossword puzzles, and exercise regularly. Taking a massage or a warm bath will help,” he says.
Causes: Decrease in oxygen levels and a subsequent increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the bloodstream. Other causes include smoking, use of sheesha, brain disorders, obesity-related issues, chest wall deformities and neuromuscular disorders.
In the UAE, approximately 20 per cent of patients who visit OPD have obesity and complain of sleep disturbances
Symptoms: Complaint of breathlessness on exertion, disturbed sleep and daytime sleepiness, anxiety and confusion, seizures and an increase in pressure in the brain.
Occurrence: Dr Vivek Karan, Stroke & Interventional Neurologist at RAK Hospital, says, “In the UAE, approximately 20 per cent of patients who visit OPD have obesity and complain of sleep disturbances.”
Treatment: “Since hypoventilation stems from an underlying disorder, the treatment typically addresses this and aims to correct the disorder,” says Dr Karan. “Moreover, medication such as Bronchodilators, which help in easing the breathing is useful for treating patients with obstructive lung disease and severe bronchospasm.”