Sleep Awareness Week – focus on OSA
Many baby boomers believe they will never have to slow down. Yet our research shows that they are worried about their brain health. The 50s and 60s are when something as seemingly innocuous as a sleep disorder, particularly obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) can lay the foundations for poor health for the rest of their lives.
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common sleep-related respiratory disorder and untreated OSA is associated with major adverse health and quality of life outcomes. Common sedatives may reduce OSA severity in some patients but worsen it in others. This is likely due to the underlying causes of OSA, which differ from person to person.
“A major concern regarding the use of sedatives in OSA is their potential to impair upper airway muscle activity which can worsen the condition,” says Assoc Prof Danny Eckert. “But a recent study by our sleep research team has shown that a common sleeping pill does not reduce upper airway muscle activity in people with OSA, as previously thought. This feature may certainly help some patients.”
Specifically, sleeping pills decrease a person’s ability to wake up when their airway narrows. This can actually help some patients, such as those who wake up too easily, with OSA to achieve breathing stability by allowing them to get into deeper sleep. However, for people who don’t wake easily these same pills can prolong their breathing stoppages and worsen their oxygen levels.
A future study will focus on the physiological differences that may cause these diverse results in order to identify those who wake easily from sleep and for whom certain sedatives may be beneficial versus those who are harder to wake and for whom sedatives may be harmful.
Further information on Sleep Awareness Week.