Australia’s Health specialists warn noisy sleepers

‘Don’t ignore the heavy snore’

‘Kaua e wareware i te ngongoro taimaha’

Although insomnia and severe snoring problems are widespread in Australia and New Zealand only one in every three sufferers seek the help they need.  Health specialists from the Sleep Health Foundation are using Sleep Awareness Week, from July 4th – 11th, to highlight their serious concerns that too many people in are living with undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders that steal both their health and happiness.

Warning about snoring

Sleep Health Foundation partners with Sleep Disorders Australia, the Australasian Sleep Association and other related research bodies throughout Australia and New Zealand, and their statements are endorsed by the World Association of Sleep Medicine.

“It’s a sad fact that more than one third of adults have sleeping problems, but it’s even more concerning that most of them are suffering through their bad sleep and waking unrefreshed without realising help is at hand,” says Professor Alister Neill, President of the New Zealand Branch of the Australasian Sleep Association and spokesman for Sleep Health Foundation.

“This poor sleep is adversely affecting their health, their mood, their relationships, their diet, their driving, their motivation to exercise and their ability to do their job safely and effectively. Every aspect of life suffers.”

Studies show that sleep problems like heavy snoring disrupted sleep, inadequate sleep duration, daytime fatigue, excessive sleepiness and irritability are experienced by 25-35 per cent of all adults on a daily or several times a week basis. About half of these problems can be attributed to specific treatable sleep disorders, particularly insomnia and the increasing occurrence of the snoring condition, obstructive sleep apnea.

In Australia, specific sleep disorders cost the economy $5.1 billion a year, including $800 million in direct health care costs. Poor sleep because of poor sleep habits or choices adds to this cost. The Sleep Health Foundation says sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life for up around one third per cent of the world’s population.

The Sleep Health Foundation says it is helpful for people to realise there are three crucial elements to good sleep – duration, continuity and depth.

“Sound sleep is a critical function of good health along with a balanced diet and adequate exercise,” Dr Neill says. “If you’re not getting it then your health and happiness will be bearing the brunt. Your sleep needs to be uninterrupted, long enough to feel rested and alert the next day and deep enough to be restorative and refreshing.”

The main objectives of Sleep Awareness Week is for people to focus on improvements they can make that will bring major life benefits. This includes advice for people to keep regular sleep hours, avoid sleeping in and take care not to nap too late or too long. It also suggests that they should consider what effect environmental conditions like temperature, noise, light, bed comfort, and electronic devices could be having on their shut-eye. Professor Neill says, “It may be that you can make one or two small changes that dramatically improve your sleep and how you feel the next day.”

Above all this year’s Sleep Awareness Week warns noisy sleepers:
‘Don’t ignore the heavy snore’
‘Kaua e wareware i te ngongoro taimaha’.

A gasping snore in particular could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a night-time breathing condition that affects energy levels, mood and general health.  Professor Neill says “There are effective treatments for snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness that can get you back to better health in no time.”

You should act as soon as possible and not ignore the problem. Easy to wear oral appliances and Chin Straps are available and are medically recommended worldwide, Customised oral appliances are also available for those suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnoea and using this type of mouthpiece is likely to prevent it developing to a more severe form which affects health and necessitates the use of CPA (Pumped oxygen combined with a face mask that is used throughout the night).

If you snore – do as they say. Don’t ignore it.

John Redfern