Why Sleep Problems often get ignored

 

Sleeplessness has a long and tortured history. A 15th-century Italian lawyer named Hippolytus de Marsiliis is said to have first documented sleep deprivation as a way to punish prisoners. To add to that this, make a note that he is the same man credited with confirming the effectiveness of slow-drip water torture. He was merely making formal what humans had known for centuries; not getting enough sleep is painful.

Mental health concept in playful style with egg characters

Mental health concept in playful style with egg characters

Today, the problem of too little sleep, and the quest for more of it, is as acute as ever. Over a quarter of the people interviewed in a new consumer survey of adults said they had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most nights, and two thirds of them struggled with sleep at least once a week. For those in charge of machinery, or who are professional drivers, this lack of sleep can be a serious problem.

Tiredness at the wheel is just one major problem that results from lack of sleep and nodding off at the wheel isn’t just frightening – it can be fatal. Just think – at 55 mph you cover the length of a football field in 5 seconds. In fact, about one-fifth of fatal car crashes involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2014 study in which specially trained investigators analysed all the car crashes from 2009 to 2013.

A good night’s sleep can require everything from the practical, such as a comfortable pillow, to having calm and peace of mind. On top of this, the modern marketplace has exploded with supposed solutions for people who can’t sleep due to them or their partner snoring, but few of them are tested or approved.

For example, Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies in 2015, and that’s expected to grow to $52 billion by 2020, according to an analysis by BCC Research. The main problem is that certain solutions don’t work as well as claimed – and that’s if they work at all.

Make sure they are either NHS or FDA approved and if possible they have evidence of authentic published medical testing. After all your health is what’s at stake so it’s not about buying cheap and saving small amounts of money. The word cheap means exactly what it says, and there are very good reasons for using it.

Millions of us have a sleep disorder such as snoring, sleep apnoea, or chronic insomnia and this can bring persistent difficulty sleeping and subsequent trouble functioning during the day – and that includes both men and women. The vast majority don’t get properly diagnosed or treated, according to research published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

Some people may be unaware of sleep interruptions, perhaps because they live alone, and often patients don’t bring their sleep to the attention of doctors because they don’t think it’s a medical problem or that the doctor won’t be able to help – and that may be exactly right.

Past surveys have shown that medical schools have formally devoted, on average, less than 2 hours overall to sleep medicine, and doctors might not routinely discuss sleep problems during reviews and visits. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that only 25% of primary care providers asked new patients about insomnia or other sleep issues, although many had signs of problems. Doctors might also find it hard to pinpoint which of the many sleep disorders is the culprit because symptoms may be unclear, and other illnesses and habits may also affect rest.

However if the problem is snoring or sleep apnoea, then the signs are very obvious, and prevention or control is of either is simple. On its own, snoring isn’t necessarily a serious concern. Almost everyone with sleep apnoea snores, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnoea.

The difference is that vibrations of the soft tissues of the upper airway produce snoring, and sleep apnoea occurs when the airway collapses and air cannot get into the lungs, interrupting sleep 30 to 60 times per hour.

There are lots of statistics to back this up. In the UK while 40% of men and almost 25% of women snore habitually, approximately 9% of men and 5% of women have sleep apnoea – but many more cases are unreported or undiagnosed. In the USA 12% of men and 8% of women are being treated for sleep apnoea. The figures are reported to be even higher in Australia but men still suffer more than women from this far-reaching condition.

Snoring and sleep apnoea are both easily treated with either a simple mouthpiece that brings the lower jaw forward while sleeping, and consequently opens the airway, or if you snore open-mouthed, by using an elasticated Chin Strap that closes the mouth and prevents you from snoring. Sometimes a combination of the two works even better for some people.

There’s a wide choice of medically approved oral appliances available – and as a consequence they don’t need a prescription. They are all good value, and easily affordable, and they can improve your life and health enormously.

John Redfern


Snoring with your mouth open damages your teeth as well as your health

 

For those of us who sleep with our mouth open and ‘catch flies’ while we sleep, there’s more bad news because scientists have found that sleeping with the mouth open can be as damaging to teeth as having a can of fizzy drink just before going to bed. This is because breathing through the mouth dries it out – removing the protective effect of saliva, which has a natural ability to kill the bacteria in the mouth that produce acid. As the acid levels rise through the night, tooth erosion and decay can begin. Having cleaned your teeth before retiring will have been a waste of time.

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The researchers believe the findings help to explain observations of many dentists who say that people who sleep open-mouthed have higher rates of tooth decay. Men are most likely to be affected, as research has shown nearly a third breathe through their mouths while asleep, compared to just five per cent of women.

Tooth decay in mouth sleepers is often worse at the back and this is because the back of the mouth tends to get drier than the front. Patients most at risk are those with either asthma or obstructive sleep apnoea. They are the ones more likely to breathe through their mouth at night – and in many cases snore loudly.

This can easily be avoided by wearing a simple chin support strap device at night when you go to bed. As one of the industry’s most cost-effective and widely used anti-snoring devices on the market today, a chin strap is really easy to fit, wear and maintain.

If you are new to products that successfully reduce and or stop snoring or you’re simply looking for a different approach then a chin strap is an absolute must to try. They have a long record of being successful, reliable and very safe – and they’re incredibly inexpensive.

This was emphasised in the national newspapers this week, as well as being featured on ITV in one of the regular daily news slots for health, where the SleepPro Chin Strap was featured and recommended – see the Video.

Clinical trials also support the facts about chin straps, and to put it very simply, they work, but it doesn’t end there.

They can also assist closed mouthed snorers who suffer from nasal blockage and/or mild sleep apnea because, when used in combination with a Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD), often just called a mouthpiece, they can help to reinforce the tongue and muscle stability needed for peaceful sleep provided by your MAD. The idea behind a chin strap is very simple and that’s why they are so effective. They work by holding the jaw firmly in place… and that’s it! Buy the two together and save money.

This simplicity helps in two ways:

Firstly it reduces the chance of your tongue falling back into the throat, where it will block airways, and secondly it reduces the risk of loose-tissue, which is centred on the neck and jaw from vibrating, as it is held in place.

These proven approaches to reduce and or stop snoring are accepted worldwide as simple, inexpensive, effective ways to secure noise free sleep.

They are comfortable to wear as one single elasticated strap fits easily under the chin and then divides and extends around the back and top of the head for a snug, comfortable fit, for which the tension can be adjusted.

As a consequence of this flexibility – one size fits all – and with the SleepPro Chin Support Strap on you’ll hardly notice it but it will prevent you from snoring, help you to sleep peacefully, and as a result you’ll wake refreshed.

 

John Redfern

 


Leading UK sleep expert says that we must raise awareness of sleep apnoea

A leading Cambridge sleep expert has said more people need to be aware of sleep apnoea after new research shows just a small minority of women go to the doctor with sleep issues. As you are aware from a recent article, almost half of British women say they are not getting enough sleep and don’t feel well rested when they wake up. It also found despite the extent of their sleep problems, only a minority of women visit their GP about sleep issues such as difficulty sleeping and snoring.

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Dr Ian Smith, director of Papworth Hospital’s Respiratory Support and Sleep Centre and assistant medical director, said women and men are quite biologically different – and this is hard-wired into our sleep patterns.

“Women are more likely to be early risers (Larks) and need to get to bed early while more men are late to bed (Owls),” he said.

The impact of sleep deprivation on appearance is much more prominent in women than men with 31 per cent of women admitting that sleeping problems have caused them to put on weight and 33 per cent said it made their skin look less healthy. Women are also more prone to insomnia.

The male upper airway is more likely to narrow during sleep and this makes snoring and sleep apnoea (pauses in breathing) more common in men.

“As a consequence, about twice as many men have obstructive sleep apnoea compared to women, but about six times as many men are referred to sleep clinics for sleep apnoea and the women who are referred have often had symptoms for longer.”

“Snoring, poor sleep and sleepiness may indicate sleep apnoea which is for some a serious condition,” said Dr Smith. “People who have repeated pauses in their breathing at night are often sleepy in the day which leads to a six fold increase in the risk of car crashes. It can also cause high blood pressure with a risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Anyone with snoring and daytime sleepiness should take action in some way as soon as possible. Screening for sleep apnoea is very simple and the treatment can be extremely effective. People started on treatment usually feel transformed with much more energy in the daytime and we know that the risks of car crashes and high blood pressure are pretty much reversed.

“Some drivers may be wary of coming forward if they have heard that sleep apnoea can affect your driving licence. This is true for untreated, sleepy people but usually we can get treatment started in just a few weeks and we can prioritise professional drivers whose work may be at risk.”

Papworth Hospital is a major heart and lung hospital in Cambridgeshire, England. It is the UK’s largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital, and the country’s main heart and lung transplant centre, and was home to the first successful heart transplant in the UK and one of the world’s first beating-heart transplants. As a result of their extensive research into the success of custom-made oral appliances, they made two key recommendations in 2014 that were published in The Lancet:

  • SleepPro Custom should be offered as first line treatment for mild OSA and any form of snoring
  • SleepPro Custom should be offered as an alternative to CPAP for the treatment of moderate OSA

SleepPro Custom is the only “evidence based mandibular advancement device “ that is available in the UK at a price within reach of the average person’s pocket, and is ideal for this serious respiratory problem.

The SleepPro Custom, and the accompanying anti-microbial version, the Custom AM, is made to an individuals’ dental impression to guarantee the best possible fit available, along with extra comfort. It is a product that has been developed in Britain, is fully recommended by the NHS, and will be made and supplied from the company’s specialist UK laboratories.

‘Most people with sleep apnoea snore, but not all those people who snore have sleep apnoea,’ explains Tim Quinnell, a consultant at the Respiratory Support and Sleep Centre at Papworth Hospital.

Snoring might not be life-threatening immediately, but its longer-term effects can be devastating. If you snore heavily, or suspect that you or your partner may suffer from sleep apnoea you should act immediately to prevent it.

John Redfern