Health City opens new sleep lab

Health City has opened a new “sleep lab” to treat, diagnose and study a range of sleep disorders which doctors believe could be contributing to other illnesses. 

Patients can spend the night at the lab while doctors monitor brain flow and breathing patterns using sophisticated equipment, including electrodes attached to the head and body. 

Snoring and sleep positions are also monitored remotely by the medical team as part of the study. 

Dr. Archita Joshi-Bhatt said information from the tests could be used to diagnose and help treat disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea – a condition involving pauses in breathing during sleep. 

She said staff at the medical tourism facility, in East End, had identified a “burning need” for proper facilities to treat patients with sleep issues. 

Untreated sleep disorders are linked to a range of more serious health problems, leading to a higher risk of hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, kidney problems and stroke, the doctor said. 

She added, “Sleep deprivation can lead to trouble in making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and behavior and coping with change. 

“Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide and risk-taking behavior. It can result in poor performance on the job or at school and a two-time greater risk for an accident.” Dr. Joshi-Bhatt said the sleep lab would fill a gap in the island’s medical care services and help generate research on the prevalence of sleeping disorders in the Caribbean. 

U.S. figures suggest roughly 42 million Americans have a sleep disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect around 4 percent of people worldwide, yet most are unaware of it and only one in 10 are receiving treatment. 

Dr. Joshi-Bhatt added, “Although no definite figures are presently available for the Caribbean region, in the last year of our practice here at Health City my colleagues and I came across several patients who had a high likelihood of sleep disordered breathing, either by itself or co-existing and complicating other medical conditions.” 

Main signs of a sleep disorder 

  • Your snoring disturbs your bed partner 
  • You have trouble falling asleep at night more than three times a week. 
  • You wake up often during the night. 
  • You feel tired throughout the day. 
  • You find yourself falling asleep while driving, at work or in class. 
  • You have an itchy, crawly feeling in your legs. 
  • You wake up with a headache or a dry/sore throat. 

Common sleep disorders 

  • Sleep apnea, in which breathing stops or gets very shallow during sleep. Each pause typically lasts 10-20 seconds or more, and can occur several times an hour. 
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), characterized by a strong, often uncontrollable urge to move your legs immediately before sleep, or other odd feelings like burning, prickling, itching or tingling. 
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD), in which patients have repetitive, uncontrollable and often imperceptive muscle spasms during non-REM sleep. 
  • Narcolepsy, sometimes called “sleep attacks,” means falling asleep at unusual times and in awkward places. 
  • Insomnia, which includes difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early and/or poor quality of sleep. 
  • Parasomnias a category of undesirable physical or verbal behaviors during sleep. 

Source: Health City 

Technician Deepesh Vaidya, left, and Dr. Archita Joshi-Bhatt demonstrate the sleep lab technology on Health City staff member Lisa Burke. - PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY
Technician Deepesh Vaidya, left, and Dr. Archita Joshi-Bhatt demonstrate the sleep lab technology on Health City staff member Lisa Burke. – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY