Nothing like a good night's sleep

lifestyle April 03, 2018 01:00

By PARINYAPORN PAJEE
THE NATION

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Philips uses its Singapore headquarters to open a sleep and respiratory education centre



WITH SLEEPING disorders at the forefront of many medical woes, correct diagnosis is essential to ensuring the right treatment is given.

Philips recently made this a whole lot easier by opening Southeast Asia’s first Sleep and Respiratory Education Centre at its regional headquarters in Singapore to train healthcare professionals across the region to better diagnose and treat this common disorder. The centre is the latest addition to Philips’ Singapore facilities, which are housed in a 38,000-square-metre, state-of-the-art building that already boasts a number of other world-class training and innovation areas.

The Sleep and Respiratory Education Centre is aiming to go beyond raising awareness through education about the importance of sleep. Work is being undertaken on sleep solutions rooted in clinical evidence and technical data that work together to promote better health – from clinical solutions designed to better manage sleep apnoea, to modern technology designed to help people start their days naturally.

The 102sqm facility is designed to accurately simulate a patient’s sleep journey – from a life-sized mock-up of a patient’s bedroom for sleep observation to a monitoring room where sleep technicians score and analyse sleep data, and a doctor’s consultation room. The innovative facility also uses virtual reality in an Interaction Room to simulate abnormal sleep patterns that may occur in a patient during a sleep study, such as limb movements, rapid eye movements and respiratory difficulties.

It is estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide suffer from sleep apnoea and 80 per cent of them undiagnosed and that globally, 30 per cent of people experience difficulty in initiating and maintaining sleep. Sleeping well is essential to good health, and yet only one-third of people who suffer from sleep disorders seek professional help. In a recent study, one of three Singaporeans suffered from moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – a condition that can result in early death.

“We need to generate an awareness that a person who is snoring is not having great sleep. A child who snores is not cute. It means that the breathing is not smooth. And in an adult, snoring indicates that the oxygen levels are going down. These are the kinds of awareness that we need to generate in the public in order to give more patients the treatment they may need. Without that awareness, the only reason most people go to see a doctor is because their bed partner complains that he/she is disturbing his/her sleep. That’s not really the most optimal way to help them,” says Dr Han Hong Juan, consultant Ear Nose Throat surgeon and the medical director for the ENT, Voice and Snoring Clinic in Singapore.

Sleep apnoea is caused by the repeated collapse of a sufferer’s airway, leading to low oxygen levels and disruptive sleep. From a mild symptom that might cause daytime tiredness and poor work, it becomes for many a severe problem that weakens the heart. 

“It's not true that if you’re not overweight you don't have severe sleep apnoea. Some patients will also have very small chins, a lower jaw that’s smaller than the upper jaw and a very narrow upper area,” says Dr Han.

Dr Han, a guest speaker at the opening of the Sleep and Respiratory Centre, adds that the loudness of the snoring is unrelated to sleep apnoea.

“In fact we are more concerned about the silence during snoring because the silence means that there is no more airflow. When there’s no airflow at all there’s no sound but at the same time there’s no air going into your lungs so it’s like suffocating.” 

Men are more prone to having severe OSA than women because of the anatomy of the male airway. Dr Han demonstrated by placing his four fingers under his chin and asking participants to do the same. Those unable to get four fingers to fit comfortably have a higher risk of sleep apnoea – and the fewer the fingers, the more the risk goes up. Women who have plastic surgery to sharpen their jawline to create a V-shaped face are also more likely to develop sleep apnoea.

An increasing number of hospitals in Southeast Asia have opened sleep labs and those found to have problems are required to wear CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) masks wile they sleep. Cursed for being uncomfortable, the new generation of masks on show at the centre have a sleeker design that help you sleep comfortably.

While sleep apnoea often can’t be cured due to the anatomy of the airway, CPAP is often the best solution, albeit a life-long one. Medication is sometimes prescribed and for a few, surgery to alter the airway is a possible though not fail-safe solution. 

And in some cases, losing weight can help. 

“One of my patients, a man weighing 120kg and with severe sleep apnoea, was put on the PAP machine. He was very motivated because he had young children and didn’t want to die in his sleep. I told him to lose weight and he lost 50kg. We took him off the PAP machine and now he runs marathons,” Dr Han says. 

  LEARNING HOW TO COPE

- Regional healthcare professionals interested in the training programmes at the Philips’ Sleep and Respiratory Education Centre can contact Philips at src_sg@philips.com.

Information on a schedule of upcoming training courses and events can be found on Philips’ website.