Snoring has now been proved to be Step One in the decline of your health

If you are 40 and snoring heavily, you may already have begun the steady decline into a health-threatening middle age.

Researchers have charted the downward journey into the chronic illnesses that typically burden people from mid-life. They have mapped out the first four steps and found that it begins with snoring.

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The results of this new study were released at the Sleep Down Under 2016 conference in Adelaide last weekend, and for the study in question, specialists at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne worked with a large selection of snorers whose snoring was bad enough for them to seek medical help. Almost all had underlying sleep apnoea and its progression was tracked back along with the resultant onset of various key health problems.

The study participants were aged around 55 and mostly male. The males generally had begun snoring around the age of 32, which was much earlier than the women, who started on average at 40.

When the specialists investigated their other health issues, they found links to hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and cardiovascular disease, all of which are physiologically similar and are most usually linked with obesity and lifestyle factors.

Of all the study participants, 43 per cent had hypertension, a quarter had diabetes and 23 per cent had some form of heart disease. Eight per cent of them had all four conditions, referred to as the quadrella.

In those with the quadrella, the pattern was clear with snoring happening first, followed by hypertension, then diabetes and finally heart disease. Three-quarters of those with all four health problems were male and most of them were in their 60s.

Their decline had been in process for many years and the researchers say the sequential nature of these conditions and subsequent progression is worth investigating to test the impact of early intervention. That of course means to persuade people to stop snoring as early as possible.

This slippery slope for those on the path of ill health began when they started to snore very heavily at an average age of 39. By about 43 they have signs of high blood pressure and by 52 they are knocking on the door of diabetes. By the time they hit 54, they have early symptoms of heart disease. Snoring however is now known to start much earlier than that age, primarily due to worsening lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese. This narrows the throat and causes the problem to start at an earlier age. For those of a normal weight the throat tends not to restrict until the problems of relaxed muscles starts to occur due to age.

A good night’s sleep is critical for good health and this is a deteriorating situation as the number of people with sleep disorders grows every year as a result. It was a question being pondered by 700 experts at a conference in Adelaide where key papers outlined breakthroughs to help millions of people suffering from sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea and insomnia.

It is estimated as many as 1.5 million Australians suffer from a major sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea with as many as 80 per cent of them undiagnosed. Sleeping conditions such as sleep apnoea cost the Australian community more than $5 billion a year in health and indirect costs, with the impact to quality of life estimated to be worth more than $31 billion a year.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) occurs in about 18 million Americans at a cost of over $80 billion, or about one in 15 people, and is caused by a repetitive airway collapse that prevents air from reaching the lungs. Sleep apnoea can have negative consequences if it goes undiagnosed and untreated early. As well as the conditions mentioned previously, it causes chronic tiredness, which can lead to cognitive impairment including trouble concentrating and memory problems.

The problem is rife throughout the world and has been identified recently by the NHS in Britain as a key area on which to focus.

Advice and medically approved treatment to prevent the problem of snoring, and its possible development to OSA, are available easily online without prescription. A selection of mouthpieces that are worn at night, and designed to suit the degree of the problem, can put years onto your life and its resultant quality.

John Redfern


Do you know if you just snore heavily or if you suffer from sleep apnoea?

To find out which check the short questionnaire at the end of this article.

Many people still treat snoring as a joke or something to be embarrassed about, but loud snoring, especially when accompanied by daytime fatigue may be a sign of sleep apnoea, a common disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. Sleep apnoea can leave you feeling exhausted during the day, affect your mood and your relationship with your bed partner, and even be dangerous to your health.

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Obstructive sleep apnoea is a serious sleep disorder where your breathing is interrupted during sleep – sometimes hundreds of times during the night. This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen and makes it a potentially fatal condition.

Because sleep apnoea only occurs while you’re sleeping, many people aren’t aware they have a problem until a bed partner or roommate complains about their heavy snoring, which is one of the major indicators.

Anyone is susceptible to sleep apnoea, men more so than women, and it even occurs in children. You may not know if you or your partner have sleep apnoea but there is simple way to find out. Obviously one can go for expensive sleep tests, but these also involve going through the right medical channels and being away overnight for a detailed assessment to be done, or you can check quickly with the test before you do that. In most cases simply using an oral appliance will both limit and even prevent it happening. These do not require a prescription and are available easily online, are medically recommended, and made to fit your own dental profile.

What is sleep apnoea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a chronic condition in which there are repeated blockages in the throat causing pauses in breathing. If there are more than five of these events per hour of sleep, each event lasting 10 seconds or longer, a patient is diagnosed with OSA. Some patients have events every minute during sleep; some have events lasting 60 seconds or longer and most of these patients are unaware of this deadly condition.

A typical sleep apnoea episode will see your airflow stop, and as a result, the oxygen level in your blood drop. Your brain responds by briefly disturbing your sleep enough to kick start breathing, which often resumes with a gasp or a choking sound. If you have obstructive sleep apnoea, you probably won’t remember these awakenings. Most of the time, you’ll stir just enough to tighten your throat muscles and open your windpipe.

Here is a quick assessment to determine your predisposition for sleep apnoea. It is called the STOP-BANG Sleep Apnoea Questionnaire.

STOP (Snore, Tired, Observed, Pressure)

Do you SNORE loudly?
Do you often feel TIRED, fatigued or sleepy during the day?
Has anyone OBSERVED you stop breathing during your sleep?
Do you have or are you being treated for high blood PRESSURE?

BANG (Body Mass Index, Age, Neck, Gender)

Are you obese or very overweight with a BMI over 35?
Are you 50 years of AGE or older?
Is your NECK circumference greater than 16 inches?
GENDER: Are you a male?

SCORE:

If you say YES to 2 questions or less: There is a risk of mild sleep apnoea –
If you say YES to 3-4 questions: There is a risk of moderate sleep apnoea
If you say YES to 5-8 questions: There is a risk of severe sleep apnoea

Oral appliances, which are available without prescription online, are recommended for both mild and moderate sleep apnoea, but in severe cases you should be advised by your Doctor as to the best course of action.

John Redfern

To see Sleep apnoea in action watch this video by Nucleus Medical Media


Do you snore heavily? High blood pressure? Do you suffer from Diabetes? These related conditions are affecting more and more people.

At the start of this year this year it was reported that poor diabetes care was leading to avoidable deaths, record rates of complications, and huge costs to the health services. It has become a worse problem in the last 6 months.

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10% of total healthcare money is spent on this illness and most of the money involved goes on managing the complications not preventing them. This is widely recognised to be a worldwide problem and not one to be found just in Britain. Both Australia and the USA are also grappling with similar major increases in the condition.

Diabetes is closely connected with weight gain and disturbed sleep results from this lifestyle problem. Excessive weight will narrow the throat as well as causing the muscles to weaken and this problem increases as we age so it needs to be prevented earlier. Snoring or sleep apnoea is one of the results.

We now know that people with sleep apnea are nearly twice as likely as normal sleepers to develop diabetes, and snorers are 27% more likely to do so. Those with daytime sleepiness are also about 50% more likely than those without that symptom to develop diabetes.

There are currently estimated to be 3.5 million adults with type 2 diabetes in the UK, and this is an increase of 1.5 million adults compared with just 10 years ago when there were slightly over 2 million people with the condition. At this rate of growth it is predicted that there will be five million people with the disease in 2020, which is five years earlier than previously anticipated. The increased costs to individuals and Health services will be massive.

Despite wide press coverage, this problem is ignored and continues to grow. Prescriptions for type 2 diabetes have risen by a third in England in the last five years from 26 million to 35 million a year, according to NHS data. In addition, during the first six months of 2016, the number of prescriptions for type 2 diabetes was already up by more than 8% compared with the same period the year before.

Getting good sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise to remain healthy during the aging process. However, although any serious sleep disturbances such as snoring have been recognised to cause problems for nearly all aspects of health, it is often ignored when treating diabetes.

If you snore or have symptoms of sleep apnoea it’s important to take preventative measures now because if ignored, it may prove to be too late.

A recent study of 6,000 US adults has shown that disturbed sleep contributes to overeating and weight gain, raising blood pressure, which causes diabetes, and also that oxygen deprivation can also cause the onset of raised blood pressure and Diabetes. According to the research anyone with night-time breathing issues like snoring or sleep apnea often has high blood sugar and is almost twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Martin McShane, from NHS England, said recently: “These figures are a stark warning and reveal the increasing cost of diabetes. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it’s time to get serious about lifestyle change.”

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, says: “Over the past decade, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has increased by over 1 million. With a record number of people now living with diabetes in the UK, there is no time to waste and the government must act now”.

Improving sleep, stopping snoring, controlling sleep apnoea and eating more healthily combined with losing weight are all key factors in the process. As a result, NHS England has said that up to 20,000 patients will receive weight loss interventions by the end of this financial year as a result of GP referrals onto the Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Many sufferers have identified that they snore and taken the highly sensible first step of equipping themselves with an oral appliance to prevent the problem, as recommended by the NHS, who approve certain tested oral appliances such as SleepPro, and either issue them direct or by referral to more severely affected patients.

All SleepPro stop snoring appliances are available online without the need for a prescription. They are high quality yet inexpensive items and they are medically approved worldwide.

John Redfern


Snoring or sleep apnoea – there’s a whole world of differences involved

It’s not hard to imagine how noise, weather, an unsettled child or a bad day at work could influence how you sleep, but what about the effects of where you live, your ethnicity, your gender, your education, or even your income?

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It’s been proved there’s a complex web of interactions involved and studying the connection between ethnic groups and sleep apnea could help sleep specialists understand aspects of the condition that still remain unexplored and may help individualise the approach to different patients.

However, can a factory shift worker who comes from a non-English speaking background and lives in a rough part of town be more likely to have poorer sleep than a professional from a well-to-do suburb earning a stable income? Not withstanding the sleep-disrupting pressures that many professionals can face, the answer is very possibly yes. International research has pointed to links between disadvantaged social circumstances and poor sleep.

In the United States, the number-one risk factor by far for sleep apnea is an increase in body weight, but ethnicity may also play an important role. One key study by Pennsylvania researchers found poor sleep quality was strongly associated with both poverty and ethnicity.

The study surveyed 9,714 people on their sleeping habits and found that African-American and Latino participants demonstrated increased odds for reporting poor sleep, as did people who were unemployed, unmarried or had high stress levels.

In two presentations at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston last year, scientists reported that the amount and quality of sleep people get each night vary across racial and ethnic lines, with one study showing that Afro-Americans and Asians don’t sleep as much as others, and another study showing that foreign-born Americans are less likely to report having sleep problems than those born in the U.S.A.

In a further study of patients observed at the Detroit Receiving Hospital Sleep Disorders Center, the severity of sleep apnea was shown to be higher among African-American men under 40 years old and between 50 and 59 years old. However no difference was found between African-American and other groups of women.

It was discovered also that it doesn’t take much weight gain for Asians to develop the same severity of sleep apnea compared to those of Caucasian descent. This is likely related to differences in the typical bone structure of the head and face. In other words, it takes less weight gain for many Asians to develop the repetitive obstructions during sleep behind the tongue and soft palate that happen in sleep apnea.

Access to treatment for sleep disorders has also been found to vary greatly with circumstances throughout many parts of the world.

Further research was conducted in 2015 by Dorothy Bruck, emeritus professor of psychology at Victoria University and a sleep psychologist with the Sleep Health Foundation.

“Socio-economic status is a big determinant of health in general and sleep is no exception to that,” Dr Bruck said. Aboriginal people with a confirmed sleep-related breathing disorder, for instance, were more likely than non-Indigenous sufferers of the condition to live in a remote community, the study found and they were also more likely to be younger and female.

David Hillman, a sleep physician and chair of Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation says the way factors such as socio-economic status, race, gender and other life circumstances interact with sleep is an area that warrants further research.

Dr Hillman says men are more likely to experience issues such as sleep apnoea and snoring, but women are more likely to experience disrupted sleep and insomnia in particular. He says one of the reasons for this is that women are more prone to experiencing depression, which can interfere with quality of sleep but other factors behind the difference between the genders are less clear.

We are all individuals and as a result may demand a different solution to our snoring and sleep problems, but with such a wide range of different stop snoring solutions now available online, it is much easier to get help.

John Redfern


Sleep disorders ruin your skin as well as your health

Human beings spend more than a third of their lives asleep, so it should not really be a surprise that a lack of it can be behind so many major health problems. Sleep is an incredibly important part of living a healthy life and anything that gets in the way of a sound night of sleep needs to be addressed and remedied.

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Two of the main problems are snoring and sleep apnea and both are dangerously ignored by both the individual and the health services.

Under-diagnosis of sleep disorders is known to be the cause of a wide range of serious health conditions, from depression to heart attacks, and health professionals needed to understand that sleep problems can be at the heart of many issues. This includes mental health problems, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and, of course, major safety issues due to fatigue.

This list has now been extended and it is known that sleep loss over a longer period can actually lead to causing more than the usual number of wrinkles and make you look older. As we’re all aware just one night of missed sleep can leave us with dull skin and puffy eyes.

Those who suffer from disturbed sleep due to snoring and similar issues have also been shown to have increased signs of skin ageing and slower recovery from environmental stressors, like exposure to the sun.

Researchers found big differences in the skin quality between good and poor sleepers. Those who didn’t get enough sleep showed increased fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slacker and less elastic skin.

“A lack of sleep is extremely hazardous to both the interior and the exterior of skin,” says advanced skin care specialist Debbie Thomas. “Skin appears sallow and eyes become puffy after a few nights of missed sleep but doing it regularly leads to fine lines and dark circles. This is because when you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol that breaks down collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm and plump.”

Poor sleepers have increased signs of skin ageing and slower recovery from a range of environmental stressors, like exposure to the sun. Researchers found big differences in the skin quality between good and poor sleepers. Those who didn’t get enough sleep showed increased fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slacker and less elastic skin.

The problem affects both men and women, as do all the other health problems, but women are perhaps more sensitive to it.

When asleep your body works its magic. “When you’re fast asleep, the body goes into repair mode and regenerates skin, blood and brain cells, as well as muscles,” says Lisa Artis from the Sleep Council.

“If you sleep badly, you are likely to become stressed, and this can cause the capillaries to tighten affecting the flow of nutrients to the skin and scalp, causing the skin and hair to look dull,” adds Lisa. “Stress creates a hormonal response whereby the body produces extra adrenaline, which has a major impact on skin function – think drier skin, lines and sagging skin.”

In one study in the British Medical Journal, people rated photos of sleep-starved faces as less healthy and less attractive than pictures of well-rested faces. A Sleep Council survey also found that 1 in 10 women felt so tired it affected their appearance every single day. Shadows and bags under the eyes, washed out and pasty skin were the top complaints.

“It also found that more than 9 out of 10 women agreed the best tonic to looking and/or feeling better was a good night’s sleep,” says Lisa.

The problems of both snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea are easily prevented and this can not only prevent it happening but also wind the clock back and repair some of the harm already done.

Leading health professionals recommend the use of oral appliances to achieve this and this includes the NHS in the UK, and the equivalent medical authorities in all leading countries worldwide. Oral appliances are available online without prescription and easy to fit and wear, being similar to a sporting mouth guard. Similar disruptions to sleep due to the grinding and clenching of teeth are also preventable by using specialist mouth guards at night.

John Redfern