A good night’s sleep keeps you healthy – but snoring prevents it happening

Of late you must have noticed how doctors and healthcare professionals have given extra attention to the importance of undisturbed quality sleep. Increasing number of studies have linked sleep deprivation to serious health issues, ranging from high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, obesity, mood disorders, attention deficit disorder, foetal and childhood growth retardation, besides making one accident-prone in the car and at work.

stop snoring week

There’s much more than that however, so whether you are up until the early hours of the morning watching the shows on Netflix, or simply staying up late because there’s too much work to do, one thing’s for sure – your body’s taking the brunt of your actions. But why is sleep so important? Not getting enough shut-eye can lead to other bad results as well as health and here are just some of the problems with comments from the experts in each case.

You gain weight

If you’re looking to shave off those stubborn extra pounds then lack of sleep certainly doesn’t help. In fact, it does the very opposite says nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of the Natural Health Bible for Women.

“People who are sleep-deprived have an increased appetite. Inadequate sleep lowers the levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite. At the same time it increases leels of grehlin – a hormone that increases food intake and plays a role in long-term regulation of body weight. Sleep deprivation makes weight loss harder because it causes your body to work against you.”

Your immune system is compromised

Lack of sleep is known to lower the body’s immune response. A recent study found reducing the amount of sleep time every night lowered the number of “natural killer cells” which are responsible for fighting off invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Nutritional therapist Geeta Sidhu-Robb, who is the founder of Nosh Detox, says “A lack of sleep can impair the body’s ability to fend off diseases and inflammation, which in turn, can cause us to catch more colds or slow down the processes of recovery. No sleep means your body doesn’t have time to build up its defence system – the antibodies and cells that attack viruses and unfriendly bacteria.”

Your stress levels rocket

Inadequate sleep can also affect your cortisol levels – the hormone that help us manage stress, and Sidhu-Robb adds “Lack of sleep increases stress which produces the hormone cortisol, and it can also reduce collagen in the skin, which is what keeps it looking young and provides elasticity.”

Stress and ageing skin is not a combination worth losing your sleep for.

Your heart weakens

During sleep, the heart powers down significantly – reducing both your blood pressure and the heart rate, which is important for the health of the organ. By not getting enough sleep, your heart might not have enough time to lower your blood pressure to necessary levels.

“Research shows that those who sleep five hours or less a night are twice as likely to suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease as those who sleep for seven hours or more,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville.

A study conducted by a team from Mount Sinai Hospital showed having less than five hours of sleep each night had an 83% increased risk of stroke compared to sleepers who got seven to eight hours of shut-eye.

Your brain becomes foggy

Sleep deprivation affects our ability to learn and retain new information and can lead to poor long and short-term memory, as well as poor decision-making. “When we sleep our body and brain don’t actually shut off – we have light sleep phases and deeper ones,” says Neil Robinson, Sealy UK‘s resident sleep expert. “While we sleep in the deeper phases, our brain stays busy, overseeing an internal maintenance schedule that keeps us running in top condition. This helps the body repair itself and build energy for the day ahead – our muscles and tissues recover, our immune system gets a boost and all the information we have absorbed during the day gets consolidated in our memory. Without enough hours of this type of restorative sleep, we won’t function, work, learn, create, and communicate at effective levels.”

Your skin starts to age

Sleep deprivation leads to inflammation that can lead to poor skin conditions such as dullness, dryness, spots and dark circles under the eyes, and It can also age your skin.

“We all know that we look and feel worse after a bad night’s sleep,” says Georgie Cleeve, founder of skincare company OSKIA. “There is a real biological reason why a bad night’s sleep can play havoc with your skin.

“When we sleep the brain produces a brilliant chemical called Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP for short. It’s essentially our cell battery power and runs all our cellular processes throughout the day. So less sleep equals less ATP. And that means less collagen production.”

It’s Stop Snoring Week – Be sensible and act on it.

John Redfern


The dangers of snoring and sleep apnoea during pregnancy

The period of time between conception and birth is a critically important one for the lifetime health of the easily influenced growing human baby. During this 35-40 week pregnancy span an expectant mother must be in optimal health so that she can adequately supply her unborn child with the nutrients needed for healthy development, including oxygen.

Snoring during  pregnancy

Oxygen is a primary resource necessary to make a healthy baby possible and if oxygen is cut off from the baby, they are at risk for any number of health complications.

Snoring and sleep apnoea a common problem in pregnancy, and nearly 30% of all pregnant women experience a worsening of OSA during their pregnancy. However, OSA is not commonly assessed during routine prenatal care. In one study, although 32% of patients reported snoring, less than 3% of physicians and nurses asked about snoring during a prenatal visit.

According to findings presented by researchers to the Australian Sleep Association, 50% of pregnant women will develop snoring by their final trimester – bringing dangerous health problems for both mother and baby.

The 2 main factors causing this are related to Hormones and Weight gain.

Changes in hormone levels dilate blood vessels, and cause the mucous membrane to swell in the nose, causing congestion and a narrowing of your nasal passages that results in forcing you to breathe through your mouth as you sleep, with the outcomes being snoring.

“As you gain weight in pregnancy, your lungs have less space and also a build-up of fat in the neck tissues narrows your airways which can cause more throat breathing – in other words, snoring,” says Professor Advisor of Education for the Royal College of UK Midwives, Michelle Lyne. She adds, “If snoring began during pregnancy, then it will almost definitely stop soon after you’ve had the baby. Your hormones settle down and you lose the excess weight and fluid you’ve been carrying for 9 months – which are the main causes for starting to snore when you’re expecting”.

According to US scientists, chronic snoring may be a sign of breathing problems that could possibly affect your oxygen supply to the baby. However, chronic snoring refers to women who snore regularly and badly both before they get pregnant as well as during their pregnancy.

The study showed that a chronic snorer might be up to two thirds more likely to have a low birth-weight baby, and twice as likely to need a C-section. Chronic snoring can easily be treated,” says lead researcher, Dr Louise O’Brien, from the University of Michigan’s Sleep Disorders Centre.

Sleep apnoea is at epidemic proportions in many countries and has become increasingly common among pregnant women. Oxygen restriction places the intrauterine baby at risk for: growth restriction (IUGR), diabetes or a stillbirth. Sleep apnoea and pregnancy share a few similar symptoms, blurring the line between healthy and unhealthy body changes.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) during pregnancy presents significant potential risks to both the mother and her foetus.  Symptoms of OSA in pregnant women should not be ignored.

There are four things that make OSA during pregnancy unique:

  • It affects not just one but two patients – the mother and the foetus.
  •  Pregnancy itself is often associated with symptoms that might mimic OSA, including sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue
  •  Sleep apnoea can worsen as pregnancy progresses and changes in the condition can occur rapidly. OSA should always be diagnosed and treated promptly.
  •  OSA may be temporary, and in those cases it should end after the birth. Women diagnosed with OSA during pregnancy should be checked again following the birth as the problem with all its associated health dangers may continue undiagnosed otherwise.

Approximately 85% of adults who have sleep apnoea are undiagnosed but Sleep apnoea during pregnancy is something that can be treated and the harmful effects to the baby from lack of oxygen can most certainly be prevented. There is no reason for a mother or her baby to have insufficient access to oxygen. Instead of worrying if her baby is getting the nutrients needed for healthy development, an expectant mother can prepare for an exciting future.

John Redfern


“Laugh and the world laughs with you. Snore and you sleep alone…”

Those are the often-quoted words of Anthony Burgess, the novelist and composer, but despite clever sayings like that, and nearly endless jokes about snoring spouses, snoring is literally no laughing matter.

snoring keeps partners awake

Snoring, as we know, is that very annoying sound made by vibrations in the back of the throat or nose by someone who is probably deeply asleep. It is generally more common in men, in people who are overweight, or in those over the age of 50. But anyone can snore, including skinny young women and even babies and children.

Snoring may come and go, such as when the nose is stuffed up because of a cold or a seasonal allergy, and in this particular case it may be a little irritating to someone trying to sleep in the same room as well as to the snorer who may not be sleeping well. It all passes though as soon as they recover from their temporary condition, and generally, there is no harm done.

Chronic snoring, however, and by that I mean the kind that occurs every night and sometimes throughout the night, is often a sign of something much more sinister than the common cold. When the tissues at the back of the throat become so relaxed and loose during sleep that they vibrate loudly and incessantly, they are also blocking the free passage of air in and out of the lungs. Sometimes the tissues collapse completely or the tongue falls back against them and the breathing stops altogether.

It can stay that way for a minute, even more, and when this happens, the blood oxygen level falls and the brain begins to panic – it is suffocating!

The brain has to make a choice between breathing and sleeping and luckily, sleeping usually wins. The brain wakes up, the person may gasp, gurgle or choke, but they are quickly back asleep again and the snoring cycle begins anew. This can happen dozens, even hundreds of times during the night and the sleeper often has no recollection of any of it in the morning. All he or she knows is they are tired even after a full night of “sleep.” This is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.

It makes sense therefore that those with OSA may be fatigued during the day. That repeated life and death struggle to breathe through the night is not restful and the resulting daytime sleepiness can be dangerous.

In fact, a study presented to the Association of Professional Sleep Societies in June of 2015 revealed that people with sleep apnea are twice as likely to be involved in a workplace accident and 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in an automobile crash than those who do not have the sleep related breathing disorder.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, OSA affects 1 in every 15 people, representing a significant and growing public health concern. Those with sleep apnea are more susceptible to depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure and have been shown to be more likely to die from cancer than those without sleep apnea.

Sometimes in order to determine if someone has temporary snoring from another condition or has potentially perilous obstructive sleep apnea, an overnight sleep study may be done. However if you choke and gasp for breath in the night then your partner is sure to know.

Treatment for OSA can vary but the most common treatments used today are the CPAP machine and the mandibular advancement device.

A CPAP machine, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, is a computerized blower that supplies air pressure via a tube and face mask to hold the relaxed throat tissues open while the patient sleeps. Unfortunately for numerous reasons including discomfort the rejection levels are high.

A mandibular advancement device, or MAD, is a custom fitted oral device designed to hold the jaw forward at night. By locking the top and bottom teeth together, the lower jaw, and therefore the tongue, cannot slide back and block the throat when the wearer falls asleep.

Habitual snoring signals airway obstruction and has the potential for very serious long term physical and mental health problems such as diabetes, cancer, and major cardiovascular problems as well as cognitive disabilities such as early onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Basically, snoring will ruin your health unless you do something about it.

John Redfern.


Snoring is contributing greatly to a massive increase in World Obesity

World media is focused at the moment on the benefits of adequate amounts of undisturbed sleep, and the health problems this creates. The research, led by scientists from Imperial College London and published in The Lancet, compared body mass index (BMI) among almost 20 million adult men and women from 1975 to 2014.

It found obesity in men has tripled and more than doubled in women.

Obesity and snoring

The world’s newspapers, plus the leading TV stations and Internet News Channels, have all headlined with the story this week that obesity is quite literally a massive growing world problem.

No country is excluded from this. The study, which pooled data from adults in 186 countries, found that the number of obese people worldwide had risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014. This equates to 266 million obese men and 375 million obese women in the world at the end of 2014.

It’s a vicious, ever turning circle. Health research has shown that disturbed nights due to either snoring or sleep apnoea causes late night snacking and as a consequence weight gain – and as a result the increased weight also narrows the throat to cause even worse levels of snoring.

The research also found:

  • More obese men and women now live in China and the USA than in any other country
  • Almost a fifth of the world’s obese adults – 118 million – live in only six high-income English-speaking countries – Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, UK, and the US
  • Women in the UK have the third highest BMI in Europe and the 10th highest for men
  • By 2025, the UK is projected to have the highest levels of obese women in Europe (38%), followed by Republic of Ireland (37%) and Malta (34%)

Other statistics from the study include:

  • China has the largest number of obese people in the world with 43.2 million men and 46.4 million women
  • The US has 41.7 million obese men and 46.1 million obese women

In comparison in the UK the study found 6.8 million obese men in 2014, and 7.7 million obese women.

The average adult in the United Kingdom sleeps for 6.8 hours a night, which is below the 7.7 hours people feel they need according to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), and the figures according to other sources are almost identical for the North America, Australia, and Europe

This lower sleep level doesn’t sound much but it amounts to losing an entire night’s sleep over the course of a week.

The RSPH, which represents around 6,000 public health specialists, said poor sleep has been undeniably linked to a range of conditions including:

  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • heart attack
  • depression

It has called on the Government to introduce national sleep guidance and both instigate and support policies that reduce and control sleep disorders.

“We do need to wake up to the benefits of sleep – there is a wealth of evidence that lack of sleep is damaging the public’s health,” said Shirley Cramer chief executive of RSPH.

She added: “Efforts to combat this shortfall could be as critical to optimising our health and wellbeing as maintaining an active lifestyle or having a healthy diet.”

Yet again this is conclusive evidence that snoring, sleep apnoea, and other sleep disorders damage your health. You need to do something about it yourself if the Government won’t act on your behalf.

John Redfern