We all love to eat well at Christmas – but is it good for us?

Of course it is.  It’s one of life’s great pleasures and all that lovely festive food and drink is only for a couple of days after all. However overeating on a regular basis can lead to serious health problems, as it will cause you to have poorer quality, disturbed sleep which can be dangerous.

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The latest research has now proved that sleep loss leads to extra calorie consumption – and the extra weight that is gained in the throat will make you snore, which will of course ruin your sleep and so on…and on…and on.

It’s a vicious circle – and you’re not the only the loser as it can disturb your partner or other family members too.

A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who don’t get enough sleep consumed an extra 385 calories the following day. The findings are based on research by King’s College London, who also reviewed 11 older studies and compared people who didn’t get enough sleep and those who did and also looked at what they ate afterwards.

Some previous research studies had shown that if you woke in the night, it was quite likely that you’d get out of bed and make yourself a a drink, or more likely have a snack of some sort.

Unlike the ‘midnight munchies’, the research team didn’t find that sleep deprived people necessarily ate more. Instead they found that their choice of food the next day was sometimes different to those who had a healthy amount of sleep. This meant they tended to opt for food that was higher in fat and lower in protein. They didn’t see any change in the amount of carbohydrates they ate.

The result of this change led to an increase in calorie intake, with the risk of unwanted weight gain, because people in the studies didn’t use up any more energy, regardless of their sleep habits.

There may be some truth in the saying ‘early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise’.

Lead author Gerda Pot from the Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division at Kings College says in a statement: “The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure and this study adds to accumulating evidence that sleep deprivation could contribute to this imbalance.

Sleep deprivation followed by increased calorie intake could lead to sustained weight gain over the long term. “Reduced sleep is one of the most common and potentially modifiable health risks in today’s society in which chronic sleep loss is becoming more common,” says Gerda Pot.

One of the main results is heavy snoring due to the excess weight gained on the neckline, and often combined with ageing muscular structure, which allows the throat to close on itself more readily.

Catherine Collins, a registered dietitian who reviews articles for BootsWebMD, says the extra calories will almost certainly come from snack foods. “It will be biscuits, it will be cakes, it will be crisps and savoury snacks that tend to be lower in protein but have more fat – and probably more calories in proportion as well,” she tells us.

She says this is the first review that quantifies the calorific effect from poor sleep. “That is quite a substantial part of your 2,000 calories a day, which is why people are overeating. Three-hundred-and-eighty-five calories – put it in perspective, that’s like 2 packets of crisps, or it’s a decent sized bar of chocolate. It doesn’t seem a lot but here’s more than one snack there.”

The heavy snoring, or even obstructive sleep apnoea, results in oxygen deprivation, and if it is not controlled it has been proved that there is a huge list of potential problems. This includes stroke. Cardiovascular problems, hypertension, diabetes, short attention span, irritability, daytime tiredness and an increase in earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Regardless of this most snorers and sleep apnoea sufferers ignore the problem and don’t prevent or control it by the use of the easily obtained simple oral appliances that are medically approved but need no prescription – they are easily available online at easily payable prices. They are great value when it is considered what they prevent.

Merry Christmas. Enjoy a ‘Silent Night’ – and do it often by acting now to stop snoring and prevent its dangers happening to you.

John Redfern.

 

 

 

 


Sleep apnoea treatment may lower hard-to-control blood pressure

People who suffer from high blood pressure can have different challenges, but up to 40% suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, often termed as OSA. There’s now a very clear message emerging from all the recent medical research into the problems of high blood pressure, and it is this:

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A study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine indicates that having therapy for sleep apnoea could potentially have a positive impact on sleep among patients who suffer from hypertension.

President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler stated, “High blood pressure that is resistant to treatment with medications is a strong warning sign for the presence of OSA, a chronic disease that increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Over one-third of patients with hypertension and nearly eight out of 10 patients with treatment-resistant hypertension have obstructive sleep apnoea.

So if you snore heavily, or have severely disturbed sleep where you gasp for air, then don’t ignore it because it will get worse and not go away. Lots of cases go undiagnosed because many people simply aren’t aware they have OSA but their partners will be as they will have observed them stop breathing, and even gasp for air without realising or remembering that they’ve done it. They will suffer from tiredness all the next day as a result.

Sleep apnoea, a potentially severe sleep disease that makes patients stop breathing repeatedly for short periods of time while sleeping, is among the most common diseases that cause pulmonary hypertension. These findings just might explain why sleep apnoea, which causes a person to have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping, impairs the quality of life of so many who have high blood pressure.

During the study, researchers discovered a real improvement in daytime sleepiness, depressive symptoms, and fatigue after initiating treatment and even more so in those patients who suffered from resistant hypertension.

A person is classified as having resistant hypertension if they are taking a diuretic and at least two other blood pressure medications, but their blood pressure still isn’t improving. It is generally agreed that if a person is taking multiple medications in a desperate effort to get high blood pressure down, they could be putting themselves at a higher risk for a cardiovascular event.

About 900 patients with sleep apnoea and hypertension were involved in the study and 15% were confirmed to have OSA in some degree of severity.

Although the authors of the study have indicated that they don’t know of any other previous studies examining changes in sleep function outcomes with PAP therapy in patients with hypertension, there has been research suggesting that OSA and high blood pressure have a definite association.

Experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine have suggested that high blood pressure that is resistant to treatment with standard medications is a strong warning sign that sleep apnoea could be present and that it could increase an individual’s risk for heart disease and stroke. They encourage anyone with high blood pressure to analyse their risk for sleep apnoea and treat it accordingly.

Mild to moderate versions of sleep apnoea are now well catered for by the use of a medically approved specialist custom made oral appliance, such as SleepPro Custom. It is similar to a sports guard and is worn when sleeping. It moves the jaw forward slightly which keeps the airway open and lessens the oxygen deprivation, resulting in deeper more rewarding sleep.

Severe OSA needs to be treated with a special breathing mask that supplies oxygen, but may patients reject these due to discomfort and other reasons. They are asked to use an oral appliance if this is the case as treatment of this type is far better than nothing at all. If you’re unsure of what to do then you should discuss it with your Doctor or local Sleep Centre who may wish for you to take an overnight Sleep Test. These are often done at the Centre – but many simpler tests are now available that can be done at home.

Remember that the presence of OSA and high blood pressure makes you more susceptible to heart failure, stroke or sudden death. When diagnosed early, treatment can reduce the symptoms and the risk of early death.

John Redfern


Ever find yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth? Stop it.

Clenching teeth in a stressful situation is common, scientists say, but there’s a related medical condition that’s much more severe. Called bruxism, which means “to gnash the teeth”, it can cause sore jaw muscles and headaches. In severe cases, people can clench hard enough to crack a tooth.

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Over the long term, bruxism sufferers gnash their teeth so much that it can cause them to wear down. In severe cases, people can clench hard enough to crack a tooth.

We’ve all heard the old phrase ‘Grit your teeth and get on with things’ but in this case you should be determined that it’s something that you need to stop doing. Your teeth are not meant to be clenched and in contact all the time. They should only briefly touch each other when you swallow or chew. If they are in contact too often or too forcefully, it can wear down the tooth enamel, which is the outer protective layer that covers each tooth. Without this to protect the inner parts of your teeth, you may have dental problems.

Clenching or grinding your teeth regularly can also lead to severe and unpleasant pain in the jaw or in the muscles of the face. Bruxism in the majority of cases happens during sleep, but there are some people who also suffer from this when they are awake.

Who has bruxism?
It is thought that about 50% of us grind our teeth from time to time but it is be only serious in about 1 in 20 cases. About 30% of children grind or clench their teeth, but grow out of this with no lasting effects to their adult teeth.

What causes it?
There are many reasons for bruxism such as emotional stress (e.g. anger and anxiety), some drugs (e.g. stimulants), having to concentrate hard, illness, dehydration, the wrong diet, sleep problems, teething (in babies), bad tooth alignment and problems with dental work. Some people can also get bruxism as a side effect of anti-depressants and if you let your doctor know of this side effect, you may be changed to a different drug

How do I know if I have it?
You may not know that you grind your teeth while you are asleep. A bed partner may be the first person to notice grinding sounds and noises. Other clues may be morning symptoms of a dull headache, jaw muscles that hurt or are tight, trouble opening the mouth wide, long lasting pain in the face, damage to the teeth and broken dental fillings.

To be sure that you suffer from sleep bruxism, a simple home sleep study may be needed. A sleep study looking for bruxism by itself is not common, but it may uncover other sleep problems such as chronic snoring or even signs of some degree of the dangerous obstructive sleep apnoea.

Can it get worse?
Many cases of bruxism are mild and cause little harm. If so, the person usually does not know that they are grinding their teeth. But more serious cases may damage the teeth and result in facial pain and poor sleep. Nightly sounds can also wake other people sleeping nearby such as roommates and sleeping partners. If you know that you have this problem, then you should take action to prevent any serious consequences.

How is bruxism treated?
There are no medications that will stop sleep bruxism but most dentists will suggest that a mouth guard can be made to alleviate or even totally prevent the resulting problems and pain. It is like a sports mouth guard, but It will help protect the teeth, muscles and jaw joint from the intense pressure of clenching and grinding. It will not stop bruxism, but it will lessen the damage to your teeth, and eliminate the aches and discomfort of doing so.

The protective guard is worn when sleeping and they are not just recommended by dentists, but by practically every other medical authority or association, including the Sleep health Foundation, the many national Health Services, and reputable, trusted online services such as WebMD.

How do I get a Night Guard?
Night Guards, or occlusal splints to give them their correct dental name, can cost anywhere from around £150 up to £500 (US$150 – US$650) if supplied and fitted by your dentist, and they can obviously not just save pain but a lot of on-going dental expense. Effective, recommended versions are however easy to purchase online and are much less costly. They are simple to obtain from experienced medically approved companies such as Meditas who operate worldwide, who will supply a SleepPro Night Guard to fit your dental profile from as little as £37.99 (US$ 50), and will also include a second ‘back up’ copy for half price which makes a lot of sense.

John Redfern


If you’re sleep-deprived you’re costing your country billions

Sleep-deprived workers are costing the world economy billions every year and those involved also face a much higher risk of an earlier death as a result.  The calculation is based on tired employees being less productive or absent from work altogether says a new study of 62,000 workers.

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The study evaluated the economic cost of insufficient sleep in the UK, US, Canada, Germany and Japan, and said the loss equated to an average of 1.86% of economic growth across the total number of countries evaluated.

The main impact was on health, with those sleeping less than six hours a night 13% more likely to die earlier than those getting seven to nine hours sleep each night.

Even though the impact of tired workers in the UK may sound bad, it still ranked better than both the US and Japan which lost the most working days due to lack of sleep. According to the study, the ‘healthy sleep range’ is anywhere between seven and nine hours per night.

In rank order, starting with the worst measured, the figures are as follows:

  1. The USA loses 1.2 million working days a year, costing the country $411bn (£328bn) or 2.28% of GDP
  2. Japan loses 600,000 working days a year, costing them $138bn or 2.92% of GDP
  3. The UK loses 200,000 working days a year, costing the country about £40bn, or 1.86% of GDP
  4. Germany loses 200,000 working days a year, costing $60bn, or 1.56% of GDP
  5. Canada loses 80,000 working days a year, costing them $21.4bn or 1.35% of GDP

It is anticipated that similar figures, or perhaps worse for some, exist in all the other more advanced nations such as Australia, New Zealand, other European countries, and those in Asia.

Separate figures published for Australia state that 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 AUD $31 billion a year. It is growing worse as a problem year by year according to the Australasian Sleep Association.

The new report called on employers to recognise and promote the importance of sleep, even urging them to build nap rooms for staff to use. It said they should also discourage staff from “extended use” of electronic devices after working hours, and individuals were advised to wake up at the same time each day and exercise during the day to improve their sleep.

“The effects from a lack of sleep are massive. Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and well-being but it has a significant impact on a nation’s economy,” said Marco Hafner, a research leader at Rand Europe and the report’s main author.

Mr Hafner said that even small changes could make a big difference, adding that if those people in the UK who were currently sleeping under six hours a night increased this to between six and seven hours, it would add £24bn to the UK’s economy immediately.

In the US alone, the average worker loses 11.3 working days or $2,280 (£1,700) of productivity per year due to sleep deprivation, according to a report done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It has become so important now in the US that some companies pay their staff to sleep.

The staff at insurance group Aetna, are paid an extra $300 each year to get a good night’s sleep. Such is the US firm’s concern about the impact of sleep deprivation on employee performance, that it encourages its workers to sign up to a scheme that rewards them for getting at least seven hours of shut-eye per night. Aetna staff that participate earn $25 for every 20 nights in which they sleep over seven hours or, up to a limit of $300 in 12 months.

Introduced in 2014, 17,300 of the firm’s 49,500 employees participated last year, an increase from 12,300 in 2014. Staff are trusted to manually record how long they have slept every night. The firm’s staff are also given extra funds if they do exercise.

Insomnia, snoring, and sleep apnoea are the biggest causes, made worse by other things such as stress, alcohol, eating late and ‘blue light’ activity. All of these can be controlled and inexpensive, medically approved stop snoring appliances are available easily online.

John Redfern