Sleep apnea can be fatal in elderly; Max Docs

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90 senior citizens attend Max Hospital health talk on sleep disorders

 NewZNew (Mohali) : As many as 90 senior citizens attended a health talk on ‘Sleep Disorders’ at Max Super Speciality Hospital (MSSH), Mohali today. Addressing them Dr Deepak Bhasin, Head-Sleep Medicine & Dr. Monika Sharma, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Expert  at MSSH said that as compare to young people , 40 % of elderly suffered sleep problems like light sleep, frequent waking, and daytime fatigue. The daytime fatigue could even force them to find it difficult to drive or participate in other normal activities, they asserted.

Dr Bhasin said that about half of elders who complained of poor sleep would end up with a prescription drugs. Sometimes medication was prescribed but these drugs might be useful in the short term management of insomnia. It failed to provide long-term relief from chronic sleep disturbances.

The medications could worsen existing sleep disturbances by inducing drug-dependency insomnia. Moreover when the drug was discontinued after long-term use, rebound insomnia and nightmares could also be the outcome.

Sleeping pills might initiate or aggravate dizziness, mental slowing or problems with attention deficit, loss of appetite and constipation which were frequently found in elderly, pointed out Dr Monika Sharma.

Mr. Sandeep Dogra, VP-Operations, MSSH said that the geriatric patient population was growing fast in India and around the world. One of the most common age related complaints was of disturbed or insufficient sleep.

Informing on sleep disorders, Dr Bhasin said that these included Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) ,a temporary cessation of breathing and periodic limb movement, which could take the form of periodic leg movements during sleep (PLMS) or restless leg syndrome. OSA was a strong risk factor for hypertension and heart disease. In PLMS, the person was gripped by strong urges to move his or her legs repeatedly before sleep, which prevented from falling asleep.” 

Dr Bhasin suggested that elderly people should try non pharmacologic and behavioral treatments first to improve sleep or reduce anxiety.

Dispelling myths about sleep, Dr Monika Sharma said that it was a misconception that snoring was normal and a part of sleep Snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea.

Tips for better sleep:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a fixed daily routine, try to go to bed and wake up at a fixed time daily even on weekends.
  • Avoid nicotine or caffeine after 3 :00 pm
  • Limit or exclude alcohol
  • Keep the bed room peaceful and avoid exposure to bright lights before bedtime.