If you snore and often wake up at night, you need Mater Dei’s sleep study

At Mater Dei Hospital there is a sleep laboratory…not for doctors or nurses to sleep in, but to carry out tests on people who have difficulty sleeping, a condition known as sleep apnea.

During a visit to these laboratories, Parliamentary Secretary Chris Fearne said that the waiting list for this test has been reduced from fives years, to two or three months.

If you snore a lot, wake up often during the night, fall asleep at the wheel or are always feeling tired, you might need to take part in this sleeping study. Mater Dei’s laboratory is equipped with special machines and specialists who are able to recognize if someone suffers from sleep apnea or not.

“This does not mean that everyone who snores or is always tired has sleep apnea, but when you see someone who has all these symptoms it is worth taking part in this sleep study to try and treat the condition which, once treated, can help you lead a normal life”, says Professor Stephen Montfort.

Professor Stephen Montfort explained that this condition is very common especially among Maltese people who are overweight.

Over the last five years, many of the tests were being carried out at the patient’s home with the use of equipment which they are given for 24 hours to analyse their sleeping patterns. If a patient requires more treatment, he would have to spend a night or two at the sleep laboratory at Mater Dei.

“The sleep lab also functions as a place for those patients who have respiratory failure to provide them with acute treatment for their breathing problems, and this takes place daily, especially during the winter months, when work increases considerably,” said Dr Josef Micallef.

While meeting with doctors and technicians who work in this part of the hospital, Chris Fearne pointed out that while it has taken over 20 years for the concept of the sleep lab to be introduced, it has only really  started providing treatment in the last few years.

“We began five years ago with 100 patients, and today we can say that the service is being provided to 1000 patients a year. This means that more tests are being carried out and, in fact, the waiting list has been reduced from five years to two months.”

According to Dr Fearne, an average of five patients a day are referred for sleep apnea tests. He said that while in 2009, around 140 patients received treatment for this condition, in 2014, the number of patients was over 850.

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