JUNE 2024
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness


Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan

By Dr. Venkit Iyer, MD, FACS

Sleep is a normal physiological function, designed by nature to refresh and reboot the body and mind. Good sleep is essential for sound health and wellbeing. It is estimated that 50 percent of the population and 70 percent of older persons have sleeping disorders.

The exact reason why we sleep is poorly understood. Benefits of sleep are many folds, however. It restores the body and brain from wear and tear from waking hours of work and stress. Muscle growth, tissue repair, bone growth, protein synthesis, digestion and release of various hormones, including growth hormone and melatonin, take place during sleep hours. It improves memory power by washing off toxins and strengthening neuronal connections. Metabolic rate is reduced during sleep, conserving resources and energy, allowing enhanced immune functions, improved mental health, emotional resilience, and physical wellness.

Hours of sleep requirements vary, progressively declining from the time of birth as one gets old. Newborns sleep for 14-17 hours, teenagers sleep 8-10 hours, adults sleep for 7-9 hours and older people sleep for 6-8 hours. Besides the quantity, the quality and depth of sleep are also important.

We feel fresh mentally and physically after a good night of sound sleep and some of our best work is done in the morning hours. Lack of sleep causes various medical problems such as fatigue, headache, anxiety, irritability, judgment errors, accidents, stress, impaired cognitive function, and decreased concentration, productivity, and social interaction. Long-term sleeplessness leads to obesity, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart problems, stroke, infertility, and infections due to decreased immune function. About 20 percent of road accidents are due to tiredness and sleeping while at the wheel.

Factors affecting sleep can be due to lifestyle, work schedules, stress levels, illnesses, certain medications, alcohol, diet, genetics, frequent disturbances, watching television for long hours, other external factors, daytime sleeping, too much vigorous exercises, infections, diseases, and pain. Sleep apnea is a specific disorder that not only affects sleep but can also become a life-threatening condition. The person stops breathing, which in turn wakes up the person intermittently. Insomnia is a medical problem affecting a sizable proportion of older people. They have difficulty in falling asleep or maintaining sleep and have poor quality of sleep. Restless leg syndrome is a disorder where there are involuntary movements of legs at nighttime resulting in difficulty in falling asleep.

Sleep laboratories can study the sleep cycle and measure various parameters and find the cause of insomnia. One may have to spend the night at the sleep lab for the same. The results could be surprising. Those with sleep apnea can benefit from positive pressure breathing such as CPAP devices. Surgery has been recommended for selected persons with severe snoring. Acid reflux related to hiatal hernia can be corrected.

Measures to improve sleep can be minimal attention to details or more involved treatments. Simple measures are having a regular set pattern of sleep hours, a light diet with no alcohol, a dark, comfortable bedroom with low temperature, and no noise. Also, it’s best to turn off digital screens before sleep time, shower and rest beforehand, avoid strenuous exercises or stressful working before sleep hours, keep off coffee, tea and nicotine at night, and not consume medications that interfere with sleep. Snoring and the movements of your spouse or partner can be disturbing to the extent one may want to sleep in separate rooms.

It is not uncommon to go to bed at the usual time but be unable to fall asleep. The best recommendation is to get out of bed and read a non-stimulating book instead of lying awake. Another scenario is when one falls asleep but wakes up after two or three hours and is unable to sleep any more. Again, the best recommendation to get up and do uninteresting mundane desk work at that time.

Those who are still unable to fall asleep may resort to medications that help them to sleep. Most of the sleep aids available over the counter in the pharmacies have antihistamines as an ingredient with painkillers or decongestants. Melatonin is another product available. Doctor’s prescription medications for sleep may be needed for those who have more serious medical problems. These include Restoril, Ambien, Halcion, Sonata, Lunesta or barbiturates. All these medications have some side effects and are best avoided on a regular basis.

Sleep disorders and deprivation are unmet public health problems, according to Institute of Medicine, highlighting the importance of good sleep for sound health.

Dr. Venkit S. Iyer, MD, FACS, is a retired general and vascular surgeon. He has authored six books: “Decision making in clinical surgery” first and second editions; “Aging well and reaching beyond,” “The Clinic,” “Geriatrics Handbook” and “Iyer’s story book for children.” They are available through Amazon or from the author. His website venkitiyer.com has necessary links and contact information.

Editor’s Note: Khaas Baat sincerely thanks Dr. Ravindra Nathan for his valuablecontributions through his monthly health column starting with our first year of publication.


March is Workplace Vision Protection Month

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan


Vision, a precious asset often overlooked until compromised, demands vigilant protection in the workplace. Be it a construction site, laboratory or office, proactive measures are indispensable to thwart potential eye injuries. This article explores the criticality of workplace eye safety, identifies prevalent hazards and offers preventive strategies.

Given their delicate nature and exposure to diverse risks, eyes are highly susceptible to injuries in work environments. Chemicals, projectiles, radiation, and digital screens are among the culprits contributing to workplace-related eye injuries, impacting personal well-being and productivity.

Common Hazards
1. Chemicals: Exposure to corrosive substances like acids or solvents can lead to severe eye damage if not promptly treated.
2. Flying particles: Dust, debris, or fragments from construction, machining, or grinding activities pose a threat of penetrating the eye.
3. Radiation: Welding arcs, lasers or UV light can result in eye burns or long-term damage without proper protection.
4. Impact: Mishandling of tools, machinery or equipment may cause blunt force trauma, ranging from minor scratches to severe lacerations.
5. Digital eye strain: Prolonged screen exposure can cause discomfort and dryness, collectively termed computer vision syndrome.

Prevention Strategies
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Ensure all personnel wear suitable eye protection such as safety glasses, goggles or face shields tailored to their work environment's hazards.
2. Hazard assessments: Regularly evaluate workplace conditions to pinpoint potential eye hazards and implement requisite controls such as machine guards or engineering solutions.
3. Training and education: Provide comprehensive instruction on eye safety practices encompassing proper PPE use, emergency protocols for eye injuries, and hazard awareness.
4. Eye care practices: Encourage periodic breaks, particularly during extended screen use, to alleviate digital eye strain. Emphasize prompt rinsing with water in cases of chemical exposure.
5. Regular eye exams: Advocate for routine eye checkups to promptly address any vision anomalies, ensuring optimal eye health for employees.

Management Options
Simple workplace accidents, including chemicals, foreign bodies or wind-assisted impacted particles can be addressed with minimally invasive treatments with your local eye doctor.
More invasive accidents and exposures need immediate treatment using advanced diagnostics and non-surgical or surgical interventions from ocular surface correction to corneal tear injuries, lens damage and or internal eye bleeding. These not only require management at the time of injury but also long-term follow-up, especially in situations like radiation or intense chemical exposures and possibly cause scarring in the future and adversely involves vision.

Preserving workplace eye safety necessitates proactive measures, education and sustained vigilance. By prioritizing preventive actions and fostering a culture of awareness, organizations can uphold employees' vision and well-being, fostering a safer and more productive work milieu. Remember, safeguarding eyesight today ensures a clearer, brighter vision for tomorrow.

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