An expert has warned about a dramatic increase in sleep disorders linked to obesity. It has been reported that the amount of people referred for sleep problems in Scotland has gone up by a quarter in the last three years, and that four fifths of the patients involved were overweight.
It is thought that about two per cent of people suffer from sleep apnoea, a medical problem linked to the shape of one’s throat. People with the disorder can unfortunately suck their airway closed during sleep, which results in them stopping breathing and constantly waking them up. Too much fat around the neck can also bring on the condition, or exacerbate existing symptoms.
There have even been examples of people with sleep apnoea drifting off to sleep when they were driving, resulting in bad car crashes. The DVLA claim that about a fifth of all serious road accidents are due to sleepy drivers.
In addition, for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes, the prevalence of sleep apnoea could be as high as 23 per cent, and that the prevalence of some kind of sleep disordered breathing could be as much as 58 per cent.
Tom Mackay, an expert in sleep disorders from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, commented “We are now seeing 2,500 new patients each year. We are reaching capacity in terms of what we can cope with, and there is an undoubted link with people’s weight.” He recommends that people who think they may have sleep apnoea should make sure they are properly diagnosed.

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