We don’t realise how important sleep is, until we’re deprived of it.Not getting enough hours per night, or suffering from interrupted sleep, can affect our health, decision-making skills, work and personal lives. No wonder there are countless books on the subject, including Arianna Huffington’s ‘The Sleep Revolution’.

It may not be immediately apparent to someone that they have issues, but if they find themselves feeling sleepy in the daytime, unable to fall asleep easily, being told that they snore very loudly or that they often look tired, it might be time to consult the experts.

Luckily, there are medical facilities in Cayman that focus on the science of sleep and can help those who suffer from chronic deprivation or disorders.

These can include:

  • Waking up with a headache or a dry/sore throat
  • Insomnia· Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
  • Narcolepsy
  • Parasomnias

Health City Cayman Islands has a sleep laboratory as part of its Department of Pulmonology, which can identify sleep disorders and subsequently recommend treatments. Patients stay overnight and are monitored using polysomnography, with painless electrodes or monitors placed on the body to measure sleep and breathing patterns.

The Health Services Authority also has a sleep laboratory, which offers the option for patients to be monitored in-house, rather than at home.

At the time of the lab’s launch, HSA Medical Director Dr. Delroy Jefferson, said, “For years the HSA has been remotely managing and treating patients with sleep disorders through at-home sleep studies. Although convenient and comfortable, there are some limitations to testing in the absence of a technician and certain equipment.”

Two local ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist private clinics also list sleep medicine as one of the services they provide. Cayman E.N.T Associates, run by Dr. Frank Glatz, works with patients who suffer from sleep apnoea. According to the clinic’s website, people with this condition stop breathing while they sleep, sometimes hundreds of times per night, and sometimes for a minute or longer.

Causes of sleep apnoea can be one of the following: |· Large tongue and tonsils compared to the opening in the windpipe· Obesity· Cardiovascular problems· Throat and tongue muscles that are much more relaxed than normal· Ageing, which may limit the brain’s ability to keep throat muscles stiff during sleep.

Diagnosis may involve a sleep study test, and once the condition is confirmed, there are several treatments that can be recommended, including weight loss, cutting back on alcohol consumption, use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, or surgery.

ENT in Cayman, run by Dr. Ulrich Ecke, also diagnoses and treats sleep disorders. Home sleep studies and drug-induced sleep endoscopy (DISE) – a diagnostic tool that assesses the upper airway of snorers and obstructive sleep apnoea patients – are available through this clinic, along with:

  • Turbinoplasty and UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty)
  • Radiofrequency therapy of tongue
  • CPAP/APAP mask treatment

A proper night’s sleep is a wonderful thing, and you may not realise you’ve been missing out until now. If you are suffering from constant tiredness and irritability, consider booking an appointment with a qualified doctor. It could change your life.