Tucked away in a cozy corner of the vast premises of the Guntur General Hospital, Andhra Pradesh, a sleep lab tries to understand the mechanisms of one of the most fundamental needs of any human being – sleep! Funded by the Natco Trust in 2017, it is one of the few sleep labs available in India’s government hospitals and provides free services to common people suffering from disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea amongst others.
This is the only government run sleep lab in Guntur apart from a couple of private facilities. Sleep deprivation has a huge impact on a person’s health and can lead to many complications including depression, hypertension, metabolic and physiological disorders.
Sleep lab tries to understand the cause of sleeplessness and recommends a course of treatment. The sleep lab in the hospital is equipped with a bed, as well as equipment that can help detect sleep problems by monitoring brain activity, eye movement, heart rate, snoring patterns and body movements. During the test, the technicians and technologists monitor patients’ sleep in a variety of ways, to help diagnose disorders.
A lab technician will hook up an assortment of electrodes to the patient’s skin and scalp, along with two belts to encircle the chest and waist. These are to measure how much effort the patient exerts to breathe while sleeping, and another attachment called an oximeter measures the level of oxygen in the patient’s blood. With the use of sensor belts on chest and abdomen, one can track the oxygen usage, variations in which would imply an pulmonological imbalance.
The ECG, heart and pulse rate are used to check cardiology imbalances while brain activity like sleep rhythms and stages, irregularities in which would mean a neurological issue. The patients are required to spend the night at the lab (a minimum of seven hours is required) and are advised to relax with their eyes closed as most of them can’t sleep through the night.
After the results are out, they are diagnosed as normal, mild and severe and treatment ranging from surgery to medicines are prescribed to them. As the corporate social responsibility wing of Natco Pharma Limited, Natco Trust was founded in the year 1995, with the premise of giving it back to the society and making change happen at the grassroots level. – HANS INDIA