Sleep disorders are on the increase worldwide. Triggered by a host of disturbed sleep patterns in a person, sleep disorders can interfere with the physical, mental and emotional functions of people and affect their quality of life.
Sleepcon 2009, an international conference on Sleep Disorders organized by Indian Sleep Disorder Association (ISDA) along with Nithra Institute for Sleep Sciences (NISS) and endorsed by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and World Sleep Federation, addressed major issues pertaining to sleep and related problems. The three-day meet which began on Friday in Chennai, South India, facilitated the exchange of ideas and techniques to treat sleep related ailments among more than 250 experts in sleep medicine from India and abroad.
The conference was comprehensive with didactic lectures, interactive seminars and workshops involving medical experts in the field of sleep medicine, medical practitioners actively interested in sleep disorders, multi-disciplinary specialists and scientists doing research and development in sleep medicine. Practitioners had hands-on practical experience in Polysomnography and several treatment options such as CPAP and oral appliances for snoring and sleep apnea. The real challenge in pediatric sleep was also discussed.
Dr. Manvir Bhatia, senior consultant neurologist who was instrumental in starting the sleep clinic in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, gave the ISDA oration on the topic "Counting Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMS) - Is it a waste of time?" Dr. Bhatia, who was honored with a medal and a cash award at the conference on Saturday, observed that doctors will have to elicit detailed information on the patients' daytime activities to diagnose their disturbed sleep patterns at night. She recalled several cases where restless legs syndrome affected sleep and how common practices like massaging or getting the legs pressed, applying pain balm or tying the legs to prevent jerky limb movement prevented doctors from understanding the impact of limb movement on the patients' sleeping patterns.
Speaking on Sleepcon's inaugural occasion, Dr. Suri, President ISDA said, "Sleepcon is a unique educational and networking event in South Asia for health care professionals interested in sleep medicine. It is becoming essential for the medical fraternity to become aware of sleep disorders and the latest technological breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders."
Dr. N.Ramakrishnan, Organizing Chairperson, Sleepcon 2009 and Director NISS said the conference anticipates "an exciting future of cross-frontier strategies where global know-how is made accessible and relevant to address sleep disorders."
Change in Children's Sleep Pattern
Several surveys have shown that more and more Indians are sleeping less in recent years. It is especially disturbing that children's sleep habits are getting increasingly erratic.
A study published last year suggests that Indian children are sleeping at least a couple of hours less than their western counterparts. The study that covered 25,000 kids across the world, observed that a changing culture adapting to late TV shows and even later dinners, lack of sufficient physical activity during the day, and the increasingly competitive and hence, stressful school environment, not to mention the inevitable homework overload, compounded sleep problems in Indian children of school-going age.
Insomnia and Sleep Apnea
Some of the sleep disorders explored in the conference included common sleep problems such as insomnia— widely known as sleeplessness, and sleep apnea where the person experiences frequent and brief breakages in breathing while asleep. Insomnia refers to the patient's difficulty in initiating, continuing, and maintaining quality sleep. Insomnia can render a person tired, irritable, forgetful, and lead to poorer concentration, lesser work quality and thereby lower productivity. Untreated sleep apnea with the common symptom of snoring, could lead to hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
Experts traced the link between-
• diet, obesity, diabetes and sleep,
• effect of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol on sleep,
• the impact of parental pressure on adolescent sleep patterns.
• ageing, diseases, medication and sleep patterns .
With better awareness on sleep hygiene such as following a regular sleep routine, not sleeping immediately after eating, avoiding late nights and not doubling the bedroom as a workroom-such as dozing on a bed with a laptop and a cell phone, the world can sleep better and be at peace.
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