March 2014

Sullivan's mission to find a cure for Sleep Apnoea - A Historical Context

When Sleep Apnoea was first discovered, the cure for it was a tracheotomy. This is now considered excessive and invasive for something that can be treated with pressurised air. Professor Colin Sullivan, the inventor of the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, had his pivotal moment one night in June 1980 when one of his patients had severe obstructive sleep apnoea, and was ordered to have an emergency tracheotomy. The patient's family refused, and the patient volunteered to be the first one to try CPAP therapy. The patient was attached to the circuit of positive airway pressure and went to sleep. Professor Sullivan increased the pressure as the patient started to have repetitive sleep apnoeic events and normal breathing appeared. 34 years later, sleep apnoea is 100% effectively treated by CPAP. This discovery has improved the quality of life for patients suffering from sleep apnoea, saved many lives and stopped the development of chronic illness such as type 2 diabetes, atrial fibrillation, hypertension and much more.

Sleep Apnoea is close to home for Sleep Centres of Australia

When studying Medicine we are always taught to treat every patient as if they were a family member. My father is not only a family member, but I also oversee his CPAP therapy and purchased him a new machine recently. When I get up and come into work everyday, I think of all the lives and all of the families that I help through getting them a good night's sleep. Recently, when staying at my parent's house, I noticed that there was a stillness about the house which when my dad was snoring was impossible to obtain. My mother now notices that my dad can stay up late and watch a full movie or TV program, whereas prior to him being treated he fell fast asleep. He no longer bares the nickname "noddy"! My dad is one of those people who did not notice any immediate symptoms. He says that he doesn't feel that much difference, despite his incredible compliance. I am of the school of thought that he just hasn't noticed - as he uses his device religiously and therefore is being treated. So if you have Sleep Apnoea, like my father; I can help you. Yours sincerely, Eamon - Clinical Sleep Scientist at Sleep Centres of Australia.

More Sleep - Less Fat

In a society obsessed with body weight, there is new research on the relationship between sleep and body fat that you may find interesting!

Researchers from Brigham Young University in Utah studied over 300 women aged between 17 and 26 years of age over several weeks.They monitored the women's sleep and physical activity, as well as their levels of body fat. The findings were published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The researchers found the following:

  • Sleeping less than 6.5-8.5 hours each night was associated with higher body fat
  • Having a consistent sleep and wake time (especially wake time) is related to less body fat
  • The quality of sleep affects body composition

The take home message is that lack of sleep can affect your body weight and composition. At Sleep Centres of Australia, we consistently see sleep results showing poor sleep quality and a condition known as Sleep Apnoea. Not a good combination for those watching their weight!