Snoring is making the News everywhere as a growing problem

New figures published from research undertaken in Western Australia this week made the headlines on Channel 7 News, where it was announced that 70% of Australian men, and a growing number of women, now snore. The link between snoring and heart problems was strongly underlined. The coverage recommended various lifestyle improvements but emphasised first of all that a stop snoring mouthpiece is the key item that is needed to prevent this danger – because as they rightly say – Snoring Kills if it is ignored.

snoring and heart disease

According to NHS statistics published in the BBC publication The Radio Times this week, a quarter of the UK population snore but it is more prevalent in those aged 40-60, and twice as many men snore than women. Snoring noise is made by the soft palate and tissue in the mouth, nose or throat vibrating, and can disrupt quality sleep for both snorers and their bedfellows.

When breathing is partially obstructed in this way, snoring is the harsh sound that is created during sleep. It is a common condition that can affect any age group and could possibly be a sign of a more serious condition that’s causing it such as sleep apnoea.

The major outward signs of a snoring problem include drowsiness, irritability and a lack of focus. You should take immediate action if snoring is accompanied by symptoms of sleep apnoea such as daytime sleepiness, morning headaches or chest pain at night.

Untreated snoring caused by sleep apnoea can lead to greater risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and liver problems, and recently, it was found that the vibrations caused by snoring damaged the carotid artery. This leads to heart attacks or stroke.

Mild snoring can be curbed with some simple habitual and lifestyle changes, although these obviously take time – particularly weight loss. There are lots of health benefits to keeping your weight in check, and combatting snoring is one of them. Excess weight around your neck can restrict your airwaves while sleeping, making you more prone to snore. However heavier snoring and sleep apnoea are very much a medical problem if left untreated.

Reuters also newly report that people who have had a procedure to open blocked heart arteries, untreated sleep-breathing problems like snoring or apnoea may raise the risk of a future heart attack or stroke, researchers say.

Patients who had artery-clearing procedures after experiencing chest pain or a heart attack were more than twice as likely to have heart failure, a heart attack or a stroke in the next five years if they also had any sleep-based breathing problems.

Intermittent low-oxygen periods during sleep may increase stress or activate inflammatory responses that damage the heart, said lead author Dr. Toru Mazaki of the department of cardiology at Kobe Central Hospital in Japan.

Sleep-disordered breathing has been associated with cardiovascular risks and symptoms like high blood pressure, elevated glucose and abnormal heart rhythms, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, who is also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and was commenting on their behalf as he was not part of the new study.

It goes without saying that patients who are not sleeping well often become depressed. No one wants to spend their nights looking at the ceiling, or tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. Patients with sleep apnoea often experience depression related to both their symptoms and the severity of their disease. Control of apnoea not only leads to improvement in physical health but can improve depression according to a new report. In a further Australian study Patients were screened for depression using the Public Health Questionnaire.

It’s important that we listen to the experts and take the right steps to preserve our health, so wearing a simple mouthpiece at night, and making a few lifestyle changes, will go a long way to making a remarkable difference to both life quality and longevity.

John Redfern



Sleep disorders cost Australia over $5 billion per year and cause deaths

A study of the economic impact of sleep disorders demonstrates financial costs to Australia of $5.1 billion per year. This comprises $270 million for health care costs for the conditions themselves, $540 million for care of associated medical conditions attributable to sleep disorders, and about $4.3 billion largely attributable to associated productivity losses and non-medical costs resulting from sleep loss-related accidents. Loss of life quality added a substantial further non-financial cost.

Snoring and Apnoea

Poor sleep is known to impart a significant personal and societal burden, and as a result it is important to have accurate estimates of its causes, prevalence, and the resultant costs, so as to better inform those who are creating the future health policy.

A recent evaluation of the sleep habits of Australians demonstrates that frequent sleep difficulties (initiating and maintaining sleep, and experiencing inadequate sleep), daytime fatigue, sleepiness and irritability are highly prevalent and range from 20%–35%. Frequent was defined as ‘daily or near daily’. These difficulties were found to be generally more prevalent among females, with the exception of snoring and similarly related difficulties. While about half of these problems are likely to be attributable to specific types of sleep disorder such as snoring and sleep apnea, the balance appears attributable to poor sleep habits or choices that limit sleep opportunity.

While large, these costs were assessed for those with sleep disorders alone.

Additional costs relating to inadequate sleep from poor sleep habits in people without sleep disorders were not considered. Based on the high prevalence of such problems and the known impacts of sleep loss in all its forms on health, productivity and safety, it is likely that these poor sleep habits would add substantially to these costs and probably double it.

Sleep is a basic and necessary biological process that demands to be satisfied but it is only recently that we have begun to understand the scale of the health and social consequences of insufficient sleep and associated sleep disorders such as snoring and OSA.

Sleep loss from these problems is associated with disturbances in cognitive and psychomotor function including mood, thinking, concentration, memory, learning, vigilance and reaction times. These disturbances have adverse effects on wellbeing, productivity, and safety. Insufficient sleep is also known to be a direct contributor to injury and death from motor vehicle and workplace accidents.

In addition, strong connections have been demonstrated between shortened sleep and a range of health problems including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and total mortality risk.

The Australian Sleep Health Foundation commissioned this extensive work and the results illustrate that a considerable proportion of Australians report frequent sleeping difficulties:

  • 20% of respondents had frequent difficulty falling asleep, which was more prevalent among females and younger age groups.
  • Frequent waking during the night was reported by 35% overall, again more commonly among females but increasing with age.
  • Thirty-five per cent reported waking unrefreshed in the mornings
  • 24% reported inadequate sleep at any time
  • 22% complained of daytime sleepiness, fatigue and irritability

Snoring was widely reported by almost half those interviewed as a reason for disturbed nights, with poor quality sleep and daytime tiredness resulting for those disturbed. And in its worst most dangerous form many cases of sleep apnoea were recognized. Prevalence of sleep apnoea was derived by determining the proportion of respondents who snored loudly at least a few times a week and had observed breathing pauses during sleep at least a few times a month. An overall prevalence of 4.9% was noted, but in this case, prevalence was higher among males (6.4%) than females (3.6%).

The costs are massive whichever way examined, and individuals can do much on their own to reduce and even prevent the problem. As well as lifestyle solutions it is easy to acquire oral appliances and chin straps that not only stop snoring but also prevent the development of sleep apnoea, not just resulting in refreshing sleep, but improved health, and a longer life.

John Redfern

What is the real cost to you of sleep apnoea – treated or untreated?

There are several ways in which this question can be interpreted but the answer is always the same one if you’re considering the possible health repercussions, and that answer is high, but if it’s a financial question then the cost can vary incredibly.

Apnea the true cost

There are estimated to be over 100 million OSA sufferers throughout the world where data is recorded, but the real number is likely to be much, much higher than this. Because so many cases of sleep apnoea go untreated – an estimated 90% – accurate figures aren’t really known.

The most recent official figures that have been published give the figures of known OSA patients as follows. The USA has 18 million apnoea patients, Australia has just about two million, and the UK approximately three million. However in all these countries the figures are increasing rapidly and this is mostly due to increasing obesity problems. They are also an understatement of the real number as many cases simply aren’t reported and go untreated.

The figures for snoring are of course much higher, and on the increase for both sexes, creating similar heath dangers if left to develop and deteriorate.

An overnight Sleep Test in one form or another is available at a price in order to fully evaluate the severity of the condition, but the starting point for most people is their partner, who through close observation will soon notice whether or not the key symptoms exist.

As a partner’s sleep is often disturbed this is rarely a problem, but they often need to convince their partner that the problem really exists, as it’s common for them to be in denial. Tests can be paid for, mostly in a specialist Sleep Clinic, but more Home Testing equipment is now becoming available, and some in app form for your Smartphone. However it’s a good start for you to start by recording their disturbed sleep and show it to them as a first step.

OSA occurs when the tongue and other soft tissues relax or narrow for one reason or another during sleep and block the airway. The brain senses a problem and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath. This can happen hundreds of times in the night resulting in poor unprofitable sleep. The ‘choking’ awakenings are accompanied by gasping for breath, and then followed by a return to snoring, and these are clear to observe.

Scores of medical reports now clearly state that early recognition and treatment of sleep apnoea is important, as it may be associated with:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents

Historically, treatment has been the use of a pump-driven breathing device that forced air through a face mask, called CPAP, but this is now most often reserved for very severe cases only, as both the cost and the rejection rates are extremely high due to the many perceived disadvantages. New style, more expensive, oral appliances have taken its place, and these are ones that are laboratory made to fit the shape of the person’s dental profile.

They have been thoroughly tested by the UK’s leading NHS Sleep Clinic at the world-renowned Papworth Hospital and are now proposed by them in published documentation as the first recommendation for the prevention of both snoring and sleep apnoea, particularly the UK made SleepPro Custom, that clearly headed the league of all the appliances that were tested.

The cost of the SleepPro Custom was also found to be one that was equally beneficial as it was affordable to all – and this was deemed very important due to the widespread nature of OSA.

A similar Dentally recommended oral appliance in the USA could eventually cost well in excess of USD $3,000 including the sleep testing, and even new products that have recently been launched into the North American market from Australia state all-inclusive prices from USD $1.390 to USD $1,790.

The SleepPro Custom will be tailored to your own dental profile and made in a UK Dental laboratory for a price of £154.99 or USD $220. This is a very small price to pay for a medically proven solution that can not only improve your life but also extend it considerably.

John Redfern

Sleep – and the lack of it in Australia – plus the growing obesity problem

In the modern age, where people are constantly online, work hours are increasing and there are ever rising demands on your time, proper rest is seriously endangered. And being sleep deprived is a major cost to the economy, public safety and personal health.

Cancer girl

In Australia the cost of sleep disorders including healthcare, absenteeism, loss of productivity, plus car and workplace accidents is estimated to be $5.1 billion a year, according to the Co-operative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, and the Sleep Health Foundation.

And the cost of lost sleep is not just lost productivity and poor health outcomes. The latest figures from NSW roads show that more people are killed in road accidents because of fatigue than alcohol, and yet there are no laws that relate to driving when tired.

Fatigue was a factor in 16 per cent of all fatal crashes in NSW in 2014, according to the NSW Centre for Road Safety. In 2013, the percentage of road accidents where fatigue was a factor, at 8%, was nearly twice as high as the figure for alcohol at 4.7%.

Sleep deprivation is a particular problem for young people, due to increased school demands and the ever-present social media. To quote Amanda Huffington, a leading media crusader for better sleep; “Nearly 5000 apps come up when you search “sleep” in the Apple App Store, more than 15 million photos under #sleep on Instagram, another 14 million under #sleepy, and more than 24 million under #tired. A quick search for “sleep” on Google will bring up more than 800 million results. Computers are however not the only, or even the key reason, for poor slumber.

For a long time, experts were guessing Australia’s obesity rate. Now, a groundbreaking, international study has put an actual number on the nations’ girth, with serious implications for the growth of health problems, the way the food industry operates, and the complications of an increasing and ageing population. The study was published in the leading medical Journal, The Lancet, in March of this year, and was based on body mass index data collected from 200 countries from 1975 to 2014.

The results show that more than one in four Australians is now obese.

The number of obese people in the world increased from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014. Australia had most recently estimated the rate to be 27%, but this is the first real proof.

The study showed the proportion of obese men more than tripled from 3.2% to 10.8% globally, and the proportion of obese women more than doubled from 6.4% to 14.9% and the rate was predicted to keep increasing.

Cancer Council Western Australia education and research director Terry Slevin said obesity increased cancer risk and this study forecast a cancer epidemic. “This is an extraordinary and frightening report which must prompt action,” Slevin said. “With the success in driving smoking rates down, obesity is the most important cancer risk factor for non smokers. On average the population is getting older, and fatter and that inevitably will increase the cancer burden.” Professor Margaret Allman-Farinelli is a Professor of Dietetics in the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney said it also had implications for Australia’s young generations.

“In Australia we anticipate an aging population to be supported by a younger population, who have become overweight and obese sooner than their parents and are more likely to experience the unwanted associated chronic diseases of obesity sooner,” Allman-Farinelli said. “As an example from 1995 until 2012 the percentage of obese 18 to 24 year old women more than tripled from 6% to 20%.”

The study also showed that while the most obese regions were Polynesia and Micronesia, almost a fifth of the world’s obese adults lived in six of the high-income English-speaking countries — Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.A.

Obesity causes the neck to narrow, and the sound of snoring indicates the oxygen deprivation that is happening – resulting in massive health problems for those concerned. The key is to lose weight but in the meantime a simple oral appliance or chin support strap will open the airway and the snoring will be gone. The result will be better sleep and improved future health.

If you snore, the cost of doing this will be just a few dollars, but the cost of not doing it is simply too frightening to think about.

John Redfern