Did you forget? – The clocks went forward one hour Sunday

This month we’ve seen lots of attention put on sleep, from it being celebrated as ‘National Bed Month’ to many countries celebrating a special World Sleep Day on Friday 17th March, with this year’s official slogan being “Sleep soundly, nurture life.” Now we’re going to change the clocks.

Funny couple in bed

Spring will officially be here. The nights will become lighter, the temperatures will start getting (slightly) warmer, and during this Sunday night, 26 March 2017 we will see the UK move to British Summer Time: at 1am to be precise.

Daylight saving time (DST) or summer time is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour so that in the evening daylight is experienced for an hour longer, and normal sunrise times are sacrificed. Regions with summer time adjust clocks forward by one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time.

‘Spring forward, fall back’ is usually the only way that anyone can ever remember if the clocks go forward or backward. Except it’s ‘Autumn’ for us in the UK, not ‘Fall’, obviously.

So the clocks are about to go forward, which is somewhat of a double-edged sword. It is obviously a good thing and something we’ve all looked forward to, but it also means that we lose an hour in bed, which is definitely a very bad thing. You might only be missing an hour of sleep, but it can have a negative effect on your body clock, and it can take up to a week to re-adjust and get back into your normal routine.

Sleep deprivation often hits the headlines and we are frequently told we need 8 hours a night. But how much sleep do we really need? Are we sleeping less than we used to and is today’s society really sleep deprived?

A recent meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine aimed to answer these questions. They reminded us that while we have every reason to think our sleep has never been better, we seem to have increasing complaints of fatigue and insomnia, and heavily disturbed sleep for many reasons, but particular sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep anoea, or the noise of our bedfellows snoring loudly.

Many of us have disturbed nights that leave us tired and irritable the next day. The rest of us may be sleeping for the recommended 8 hours – but is it quality sleep? It is increasingly being realised that poor sleep, both in terms of quality and quantity, has negative consequences for physical, mental and performance risk.

Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are dangerous, costly, and impact our health and overall well-being. New research puts forth sleep as a major public health concern, and shows that the effects of a good night’s sleep are as beneficial for our happiness and well-being as winning the lottery might be.

In the USA insufficient sleep has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a major public health concern. It is currently estimated that between 50 and 70 million people in the United States have a sleep disorder, and one analysis revealed that over a third of adults do not get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation leads to traffic accidents and occupational errors that can, in turn, cause industrial or environmental disasters and has many adverse health effects. According to the CDC, not getting enough sleep may lead to a range of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, or cancer, as well as generally increasing the risk of dying prematurely. A lack of sleep simply makes us unhappy and may even lead to depression.

Australia recognises the same problem and describes it as an epidemic. Research by the Australian Sleep Health Foundation has found between 33 and 45 per cent of Aussies have poor sleep patterns that lead to fatigue and irritability, and it’s putting them at risk of low productivity, damage to their mental health and unsafe behavioural patterns. The Official Sleep Day Ambassador has been offering tips to support sleep and help sustain health and wellbeing in the country, where they state that over 30% of adults now average less than 6 hours of sleep per day.

The message is the same everywhere – if you’re not sleeping well do something about it before really serious damage is done.

John Redfern.


My sleep apnoea causes me to stop breathing while I’m sleeping. Is this dangerous?

With more and more people now being aware of obstructive sleep apnoea, which has a rapidly growing number of sufferers, this is now a question that is asked often. However, approximately 80% of those who are believed to have obstructive sleep apnoea, commonly called OSA, still ignore it and leave it undiagnosed, thinking that it is not dangerous. Unfortunately that is a huge mistake and a severe danger to their health.

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Snoring is a normal sleeping habit for almost 50% of people today. However, some noisy sleepers may actually stop breathing for 30 seconds or even longer many times during the night. Even if you snore very heavily that does not automatically mean that you have OSA – but if you do have OSA you will definitely be a snorer.

If you stop breathing while you’re sleeping, you probably have obstructive sleep apnoea, which affects millions of adults. This kind of sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue of the throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, resulting in snoring. Patients with sleep apnea may stop breathing for a period of time that lasts anywhere from ten seconds to two minutes and these interruptions in breathing occur multiple times throughout the night.

These interruptions are called apneic events and can trigger a loud snorting or choking that wakes you up to take a breath. This occurs due to your heart rate slowing because of the lack of oxygen intake. This lower level of oxygen is picked up by the brain, which then sends a signal to speed your heart rate up and rouse you from sleep in order to take another breath, often causing you to snort, choke, or gasp. This cycle repeating throughout the night can lead to sleep deprivation and exhaustion the following day as your sleep cycle is consistently interrupted.

Sleep apnea has been linked by clinical research to numerous medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes, depression, ADHD, headaches, high blood pressure, and even heart failure.

OSA can be caused by many things and should be taken very seriously. While sleep apnea may happen to anyone, it is more common in men over the age of 40 who are overweight. This condition is also very common in overweight women as well as individuals with a nasal obstruction or with gastrointestinal disorders.

It should be looked into by a health professional even though self-treatment can be undertaken for it in a less severe form. If your sleep apnea is severe and is causing consistent disruptions, you may need to seek one or more of a variety of treatment options. The main options are:

CPAP: A CPAP, or continuous positive airflow pressure machine, is one of the most common treatments that is used for obstructive sleep apnoea, although many patients who try it subsequently reject it. They find it difficult and uncomfortable to use for a variety of reasons.

A mask is placed over your nose and mouth that is hooked up to a machine that pumps a constant stream of air into the airway, keeping it open and preventing your breathing passages from becoming obstructed while you sleep.  The NHS now recommend that rather than reject it and have no prevention treatment, that chronic sufferers use an oral appliance rather than have no treatment.

Oral devices: These may be small and acrylic and worn inside of the mouth like a sports mouth guard and cause the repositioning of the lower jaw. Oral appliances are only effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea and commonly work by bringing your lower jaw or tongue forward during sleep to open the airway during sleep. Various types are available and they can even be made to specially fit your dental profile,

Sleep apnea may be more than just a common annoyance, as it has been linked to more serious conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and depression. It can also impact your ability to perform daily tasks, as it can reduce sleep quality resulting in exhaustion. If you are suffering from apneic events, talk to your doctor in order to discuss lifestyle changes and treatment options that may help prevent your condition from worsening.

John Redfern


One third of us are said to suffer from Bruxism – but what is it?

Bruxism is the habit of clenching, gnashing or grinding your teeth. 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.

Woman put mouth guard on teeth

Woman put mouth guard on teeth

When happening during sleep, bruxism is considered as a sleep-related disorder, and people who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnoea.

If teeth are in contact too often or too forcefully, it can wear down the tooth enamel, which is the outer layer that covers each tooth. Without this to protect the inner parts of your teeth, you may develop dental problems. Clenching or grinding your teeth regularly can also lead to pain in the jaw or in the muscles of the face. Bruxism mostly happens during sleep, but some people also suffer from this when awake.

Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.

Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Jaw or face pain or soreness
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Pain that feels like an earache,
  • Dull headache originating in the temples
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek

We don’t completely understand what causes bruxism but possible physical or psychological causes may include an incredibly wide range of factors including tension, stress, sleep apnoea, abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth, stomach acid reflux, Response to pain from an earache, and even complications resulting from a disorder such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

In most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to damage to your teeth, restorations, crowns or jaw, headaches, facial pain and disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth.

In many cases, treatment isn’t necessary. Many kids outgrow bruxism without treatment, and many adults don’t grind or clench their teeth badly enough to require therapy. However, if the problem is severe, treatment options include certain dental approaches, therapies and medications.

If you have bruxism, your doctor or dentist may suggest ways to preserve or improve your teeth that will prevent or correct the wear to your teeth.

The principal recommendation will be a Splint or a Mouth Guards. These are designed to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding and are constructed of acrylic or soft materials and fit over your upper or lower teeth.

Correcting teeth that aren’t properly aligned may help if your bruxism seems to be related to dental problems. In severe cases when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns. In certain cases, your dentist may recommend braces or oral surgery.

It’s important to protect your teeth and prevent the problem worsening as soon as possible and splints are an inexpensive way of doing so. For under £15 you can purchase a splint that will shape to your dental profile using the ‘boil and bite’ method. For a little more money you can have made a custom-fitted version that fits just your upper set, or by special request the lower set, dependent on which is required. Both types are worn at night.

Either type will protect your teeth from further damage and help you sleep better. Many sufferers start with the ‘instant splint’ and then move on to the custom night guard for longer-term protection.

John Redfern


There is further proof that snoring damages the body and can kill you.

New evidence has been found which says that snoring can cause you to have a stroke as well as leading to a higher risk of bronchitis

    • The vibration from regular snoring causes damage and inflammation to the throat
    • This increases the risk of artherosclerosis and the chances of a stroke
    • It is considered as a factor in the development of chronic bronchitis
  • Stop snoring with SleepPro

Snoring can be infuriating if you are on the receiving end. But next time you feel forced to kick your partner out of bed for keeping you up all night, or take refuge in the spare room, bear in mind that anything more than an occasional snore could be a sign that they need medical help as it may have very serious negative health consequences.

Snoring always ranks as one of the most annoying habits with couples and it can affect you personally even if you don’t actually do it yourself. If you have a partner who snores, then you may find yourself suffering from a lack of sleep because of it, and this can lead to a number of problems, including increasing your risk for all kinds of different diseases and conditions.

However a less well-known fact from new emerging scientific research is proving that snoring isn’t just bad for you because it disrupts your sleep… it may also be bad for you because of what it can do to your throat! Far from something to be brushed off, these nocturnal noises are rarely benign.

The constant vibration of habitual snoring causes damage and inflammation to the throat, and may be linked to thickening of the carotid arteries, which run up the sides of the neck supplying the head with blood.

Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, say that this increases the risk of artherosclerosis, which is the ‘furring’ of the insides of the blood vessels, and as a result it greatly increases the chances of stroke.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic interruptions in breathing. It has long been linked to heart disease and a range of other serious health problems.

The condition is thought to affect about five per cent of the world’s adult population to some degree, with 250,000 Britons suffering what is considered to be a severe form of it. However, almost half of the population are thought to be habitual snorers, without OSA, and similar figures exist for most other developed nations. Australian Health figures recently quoted it as being 44% with the figures for the USA even higher than the UK.

In the Henry Ford study, experts reviewed data for more than 900 patients, aged 18 to 50, who had been evaluated by the institution’s sleep centre. None of the volunteers suffered from OSA. They completed a survey regarding their snoring and had scans of their carotid arteries.

Compared to non-snorers, snorers were found to have significantly thicker arterial walls, an early sign of cardiovascular disease.

Surprisingly, those with high cholesterol, diabetes and those who smoked did not have thickened carotid arteries, leading the researchers to suggest that snoring was the biggest health concern for these people.

The same vibrations in the throat have been suggested as a factor in the development of chronic bronchitis, inflammation of lower airways accompanied by a persistent cough and the production of mucus or phlegm.

Analysis found that individuals who snored six to seven times per week were 68 per cent more likely to develop the condition. The association was strongest in individuals who were overweight, but smoking was not a factor.

There are stop snoring remedies available online to prevent the problem, and no prescription is needed, but the fact of the matter is that if you are a habitual snorer then you need to take action quickly. Don’t let snoring affect your health when it can be such an easy problem to fix!

John Redfern