Due to obesity and an aging population, Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand reports an increase in the demand for sleep services, reports Stuff.co.nz.

Christchurch Hospital is grappling with soaring demand for its Sleep Service as thousands more people struggle with insomnia and sleep apnoea.

Driven by obesity, an aging population and tighter health and safety regulations, referrals to the hospital’s Sleep Service increased from 800 in 2008 to 4500 last year.

Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) are the main culprits putting pressure on sleep clinics around the country.

The publicly funded sleep service provides OSA treatment for those who meet strict criteria including having a “sleepy driver episode” while being a heavy machinery operator or professional driver and having severe congestive heart failure or uncontrollable hypertension.

Those with the disorder repeatedly stop breathing while asleep and are startled awake by a choking reflex.

Symptoms can include daytime sleepiness, snoring and obesity, but many sufferers are unaware they have the disorder.

Get the full story at www.stuff.co.nz