Sleep sufferers helped by new hospital clinic

Extreme tiredness, depression and even low libido are all symptoms of long-term sleep deprivation.

And now the lives of people blighted by lack of shut-eye are being helped by a special service at Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust

The sleep apnoea clinic is the trust’s newest service and has been transforming patients’ lives.

Many people don’t even realise they have sleep apnoea – where the muscles that hold the airways open collapse during sleep, causing sufferers to wake regularly and preventing good quality sleep.

Previously, patients had to travel to the London Chest Hospital, in Bethnal Green, east London, and stay overnight to have the condition diagnosed.

But now GPs at the Ear, Nose and Throat department can treat local sufferers at home.

Nurse Lesley Holland said: “I see patients in clinic at King George Hospital and arrange for sleep studies to be done. The patient can take the equipment home with them, wear it overnight, then we can read the computer chip within it which gives us all the information we need.”

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The equipment, which has been available from the start of the year, is funded by the hospitals’ League of Friends.

The read-outs have shown that some patients are waking up between 30 and 100 times an hour as they stop breathing.

Lesley said: “There are four stages of sleep, and people with apnoea may never manage to get into the deep, rejuvenating stage. They also have slow responses, and some find themselves unable to work at all as they keep dropping off all day.”

So far 35 patients have been issued with the machines and the vast majority say it has changed their lives.

“They are getting good quality sleep and not snoring,” said Lesley. “In fact, I should have marriage councillor in my job description as well, as partners are also over the moon with the change.”