Can Snoring be cured by Surgery? Do we really need to go to this extreme?

Some people say that surgery for snoring or sleep apnoea should never be done and others say it’s
better than any other cure. So whom should you believe?

Well, I read an interesting report this week from one of America’s leading ear, nose and throat
specialists who discussed this prickly subject thoroughly after doing years of research with hospitals
and the specialist ‘sleep doctors’ who seem to abound in the USA. The author acts as one of the
leading educators of doctors and medical students in connection with innovative surgical procedures
for sleep apnoea. So he probably knows the subject better than most and is worth listening to.

What was interesting to hear from a man making his living from surgery, and I must admit surprising,
was that in his opinion it should be the very last resort to cure snoring problems, however serious
they may be. He refers to other contributory factors of which we’re all aware; obesity, eating late at
night, enjoying a few drinks too many but then goes on to make a very clear statement.

“Before you even consider surgery, you should seriously consider trying at least one or both of the
two other standard treatment options, which include CPAP and dental devices.”

He continues by saying that the only condition that can stop you benefiting from these two options
is nasal congestion; and once that problem is solved, and you can breathe better through your nose,
the chances that you’ll do well with CPAP or a dental device/mouthpiece increases significantly. They
are described as excellent options to explore before having invasive and possibly dangerous surgery.

We’re all aware that snoring is a serious and widespread condition but it can often be stopped, or
certainly improved upon, without drastic and expensive surgery. That is definitely a medical opinion.
Any Doctor or Dentist will advise you to firstly focus on contributory lifestyle factors, and also to try
simple, low-cost, proven techniques first.

That’s where a mouthpiece comes into it’s own. It’s easy to get one and you’ll hardly be spending
a fortune as the leading recommended standard products are made here in the UK and can be
purchased for as little as £30. That certainly seems a pretty cheap solution to what can be a serious
problem. CPAP machines are more expensive of course and a lot of people find it difficult to wear the
breathing mask for such a long period of time. If you’re not sure what to do about a snoring problem
then remember that you can always get advice from your dental or medical practice.

At the end of the day any sort of surgery is a major step and if it can be avoided, it should be. There is
always risk with any surgery, there’s often discomfort, and there’s certainly a hefty price tag.

In conclusion, try something safer, cheaper and easier before even considering surgery. As we’re
often told – it’s the simple things that work best.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our video for more info

Snoring Sprays – can they help with such a major problem?

A recent survey of 2400 people found that almost three-quarters of those who were interviewed (73 per cent) said they were ‘sleep deprived’ and 8 per cent even felt like ‘death warmed up’ each morning, with snoring being the major factor to emerge in the key findings.

Commissioned by the Swedish retailer IKEA, the National Slumber Survey found that ‘snoring’ was the biggest complaint for 60 per cent of bed sharers, then followed by ‘getting up during the night’ (34 per cent), partners who ‘break wind loudly’ (30 per cent) and ‘sleep talking’ or ‘chatterboxes’ (20 per cent). Some people obviously have several of these problems so help is definitely needed.

However, I think we’ll just focus on snoring, as the ‘other problems’ are a little out of our area!

There seems to be an ever-lengthening list of anti-snoring sprays available and they are making serious claims of success – but unfortunately, most of the on-line reviews seem to give quite widely varying results. A major problem seems to be that although it works for a few nights, the beneficial effect of the spray lessens as time goes on. The sprays obviously make the interior of the mouth or throat ‘taut’ so as to cut down the vibration, and one major conclusion is that there seem to be those brands that work better for one but not for the other person—and vice versa.

Altogether, the ant-snoring spray is perhaps a little hit-or-miss.

However it may have a role to play in the anti-snoring armoury for some people. If you’re a light snorer, and can find a spray to suit you and that works, then it may have its uses. If you’re going on a visit to friends or family for a couple of days, or taking a weekend break, then it could be worth a try. It takes up very little space and might just suit you on these occasional events. Nasal sprays are certainly not a permanent cure for snoring – at the most, it’s short-term relief.

Not everyone who tried a snore spray said that they achieved the desired effect. One review said that it worked the first night, and did not work after that, for some reason. There were those who said that it did not work for them at all and that the product was not worth what they paid. There was another patient who said that he consumed two bottles of anti-snoring spray just to try to get it to work, but it still did not bring any relief. Maybe it was a little bit reminiscent of the famous phrase from the film Casablanca but this time it’s “Spray it again Sam!”

Overall a few people seemed to be disappointed. Those who snore and have not tried sprays yet seemed to feel sceptical about this type of product because of all the negative reviews that they had heard and read. However, half of those who tried these sprays are happy and satisfied with the result in one way or another, but there was a lot of variation by brand.

On this evidence the conclusion for snoring sprays is perhaps best summed up by ‘suck it and see’.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info.

Snoring may lead to behavioural problems for kids

A new study suggests that young children who snore excessively or have other breathing issues at night may have a greater risk of behavioural and emotional problems later on. This has obtained massive press coverage throughout the world and it has been widely accepted.

According to this new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, any sleep-related breathing problems like these may seriously increase the chances a child will become hyperactive, overly aggressive, anxious, or depressed.

In adults, sleep-related breathing problems have regularly been closely linked to daytime sleepiness, accidents, and the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic disorders. The effects of sleep-related breathing problems on children are less well understood, perhaps until now.

A team of Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York commenced by following the health and development of more than 11,000 children that were born in South West England between April 1991 and December 1992.  In addition, over time, their parents periodically answered questionnaires about health and behavior patterns.

This new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is the largest yet to examine the question. For this study, they followed more than 13,000 children to age seven from infancy.

Based on parents’ reports, 55 percent of the children in the study had symptoms of some kind of breathing problems at some point during infancy or early childhood. Eight percent of the children were in the “worst case” group described by the researchers. They had breathing symptoms that “peaked” between the age of two and three, and then carried on.

The team found that overall, children with sleep-disordered breathing, regardless of the age at which they had it, were more likely to develop symptoms of behavioral or emotional disorders, including anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), by the age of seven.

The results were extremely overwhelming – there was clear evidence.

Overall, the chance of these children experiencing those disorders was about 5.5 percent greater than the children who experienced no breathing problems. The worst-case group represented the biggest risk, with nearly 18 percent facing possible emotional disorders by age 7.

While other variables like parents’ income, race, birth weight and whether mothers smoked during pregnancy could have all contributed to the outcomes, the researchers said that the strongest effect definitely came from sleep-disordered breathing.

For example, among the “worst case” kids, sleep-disordered breathing was linked to an increase of 72 percent in the risk of behavioral and emotional symptoms at age seven, even considering all the other factors.

So if that’s the evidence – what is being done as a result of it?

It being an American study, though based on British children, they as usual lead the way. It is now recommended that paediatricians should screen all children for snoring and, if warranted, refer them to a sleep centre for further testing and evaluation.

There are a number of potential treatments for youngsters who have breathing troubles related to sleep. In many children we know that enlarged tonsils or adenoids often cause the problem, and removing them can improve night-time breathing. For other children, night-time breathing problems can be exacerbated by weight, and losing weight will often lead to improvement.

So obviously this is something for parents to be aware of and make any contribution they can – particularly as far as diet is concerned.

The study underlines that it’s important to pay attention to your child’s breathing during sleep. Let your doctor know if your child snores or briefly stops breathing.

As Doctor Claire McCarthy, an assistant professor in paediatrics at Harvard Medical School stated, “A video can be worth a thousand words. These days, with so many smart phones having video cameras, it can be easy for parents to show their family doctor what they see and hear.”

Seeing, after all, is believing.

By John Redfern

Aid Snoring With a Snoring Aid

The Oxford Dictionary defines an ‘aid’ as help – typically of a practical nature. So, very simply, a snoring aid is something that reduces or eliminates snoring and helps us to sleep much better.

Sleep is of course a very important part of everyone’s life and if you are a snorer, you are most likely to wake up still feeling tired and sleepy. This is actually caused by the lack of proper oxygen distribution throughout the body. So as that’s the root of the problem any real ‘aid’ needs to solve or assist the problem of inadequate or uneven levels of oxygen; in a nutshell, we need a better night’s sleep.  That’s certainly not rocket science, although some of today’s professed solutions leave me wondering.

If we live alone we may not even be aware that we snore, let alone know the intensity of it – and if we don’t, we may wish to stop snoring out of consideration for a partner or alternative household members. As the problem is often made worse by sleeping on the back, many a timely dig in the ribs can remind us to turn over and minimise the problem. However it’s hardly a cure, may not always work, and it can certainly cause real relationship problems. Of course it’s not new.

In the early 1900’s they even developed special sleepwear to stop an individual sleeping on their back. The designed a simple solution to this and used a sharp uncomfortable object attached in such a position to prevent it happening. Not too popular I would think – and certainly no demand for it in to-day’s market. Although I did know someone who tried placing a cricket ball into one of his socks, which he then pinned into the coat of his pyjama jacket. I never had the heart to ask him if it ever worked – or just gave him chronic backache. I guess it’s one possible way of interpreting the phrase ‘a pain in the back side’.

Maybe some of today’s professed cures have not moved too far forward however. The range of possible solutions is ever widening and the costs vary terrifically.

At one end of the scale we find surgery being used; expensive, perhaps risky, and certainly with no guarantee of success. From there we can list anti-snoring pillows, anti-snoring creams, chinstraps (which always remind me of my visit to The London Dungeon where similar things seemed to abound), nasal strips and nasal sprays, anti-snoring rings that it is suggested work like some sort of acupuncture, and even a wrist device that works like an alarm, waking you when the decibel levels get too high. How that can contribute to a good night’s sleep I just can’t imagine.

The most popular and seemingly most successful of the snoring aids is the mouthpiece – one of the few, of not the only item, that will ever be recommended by a doctor or dentist. The best advice therefore is to consult them – because then you’ll be getting really professional aid for the problem.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info.

What’s a good night’s sleep – eight hours – or four hours twice?

If you wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep again – it could be good for you. There’s a growing body of evidence from both science and history that suggests that an eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

In the 1990s, a psychiatrist named Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. It took time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week they had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, and then woke for a few hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

Just after this, a historian at Virginia Tech published a paper, based on 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct sessions.

He found more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books, literature, and from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. Just like the psychiatrist’s experiment, the references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

What did people do during those middle hours?

Well it would seem they were quite active. They got up, visited neighbours, and even went to Church. Most people however stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. And these hours weren’t entirely solitary – people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they can have more enjoyment” and “do it better”.

Why did it disappear?

It seems that this first and second sleep pattern began to disappear during the late 17th century, starting with the wealthy urban classes of Western Europe, and filtering down across the next 200 years to the rest of Western society. By the 1920’s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.

Another leading historian has put forward ideas of why this happened.

“Associations with night before the 17th Century were not good,” he says. “The night was a place populated by people of disrepute – criminals, prostitutes and drunks. Even the wealthy, who could afford candlelight, had better things to spend their money on. There was no prestige or social value associated with staying up all night.”

That changed following the Reformation and the counter-Reformation. Protestants and Catholics became accustomed to holding secret services at night, during periods of persecution. If earlier the night had belonged to reprobates, it was now the opposite. This trend migrated to various other groups, but in those days only for those who could afford to live by candlelight.

With the advent of street lighting, however, socialising at night began to filter down through the classes – and that happened sooner than you may think.

In 1667, Paris became the first city in the world to light its streets, using wax candles in glass lamps. It was followed by Lille in the same year and Amsterdam two years later, where a much more efficient oil-powered lamp was developed. London didn’t join their ranks until 1684 but by the end of the century, more than 50 of Europe’s major towns and cities were lit at night.

Enjoying the ‘Nightlife’ then became fashionable and spending hours lying in bed was considered a waste of time.

There was other strong evidence of this shifting attitude. It is even contained in a medical journal from 1829 that urged parents to force their children out of a pattern of first and second sleep.

Most people seem to have adapted well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body’s natural preference for segmented sleep and Russell Foster, a Professor of Circadian [body clock] Neuroscience at Oxford, shares this point of view.

“Many people wake up at night and panic,” he says. “I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern.”

But the majority of doctors still fail to acknowledge that a consolidated eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

Foster says: “Over 30% of the medical problems that doctors are faced with stem directly or indirectly from sleep or the lack of it. But sleep has been ignored in medical training and there are very few centres where sleep is studied.”

So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, think of your pre-industrial ancestors and relax. Lying awake could be good for you. Maybe.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info.

Snoring Mouthpieces • Good News all round

If you’ve ever slept next to a snorer you’ll realize that it is no joking matter! It’s one certain way to remove romance from the bedroom and it can cause real friction in relationships…even end them!

Snoring loudly is a major problem and is very closely connected to today’s lifestyles. Due to this there are many ‘miracle cures’ claimed, and they’re all looking to make an easy profit. So it’s very important to get some good advice, consult your doctor or dentist, and find the real root of the problem. It’s always tempting to buy a cheap, gimmicky product claiming to be the ultimate solution – but beware, because it’s never that easy.

There are lots of possible causes of snoring. Your tongue may be moving around and obstructing the airway causing it to vibrate as air passes it by, you may have a problem with the shape of your nasal passages, or simply small nostrils that cause you to breathe through your mouth, or a simple constriction of the airway in your throat when you lie down to sleep through position of the jaw.

So something needs to be done. What can you try? The anti-snoring device that is most often approved by doctors and dentists, including NHS Sleep Centres and Hospitals, is the mouthpiece.

It’s simple, efficient, low-cost, and has the highest rates of success. The mouthpiece operates very simply by keeping the jaw, and the tongue, in the correct position. A couple of nights to get used to it can be followed by nights of blissful sleep and the renewal of harmony in your relationship! All for £30 or so plus VAT. You should be careful not to pay more than that. Just like the TV Show of the same name – The Price is Right. Beware of  the expensive ones – and the cheap imitations too.  This has certainly got to be the bargain of the century at a very low price – particularly because if you’re not happy with the results then companies such as SleepPro, whose products are medically approved and are very often recommended by the NHS, will refund the cost of their Standard product with no argument.

There are two principal varieties of mouthpiece available to you at the moment but watch this space – technology never stands still.
Firstly there’s the standard version which uses ‘boil and bite’ technology to make sure that it’s both comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. Many people have found the SleepPro Standard is enough to stop their snoring without the need for the more expensive upgrade to the next level. Some cheaper versions are not so comfortable as they don’t mould to you and don’t adjust the jaw.

If you need a thinner version, that’s designed for real comfort, and is made based on an impression of your teeth, then opt for the SleepPro Custom. Even at its higher price it’s still great value at half the price of copycat versions. The Custom is made in a sophisticated dental products laboratory here in the U.K. based on your dental impressions and jaw position and IT will be the perfect fit. Stop the snoring and hardly know it’s in there.

By John Redfern

Sleep Awareness Week Can Save Lives

National Sleep Awareness Week™, which takes place March 5-11, 2012, is an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep – but only in the USA. It may be something we need here in the UK.

Sleep disorders are common in both men and women. The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders represent an under-recognized public health problem and have been associated with a wide range of health consequences including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, stroke, and at-risk behaviours.

Most Common Sleep Disorder

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is the most common of all sleep disorders. Estimates are that 50% of those who suffer from sleep apnoea also have a snoring problem. According to the National Commission of Sleep Disorders Research, roughly 38,000 cardiovascular deaths annually are in some way related to sleep apnoea. The links include high blood pressure, hypertension and stroke.

Sleep apnoea is a disorder that affects breathing during sleep.

Apnoea comes from a Greek word that stands for “want of breath.”

Sleep apnoea is a chronic health problem and is also a progressive condition which means it can potentially worsen over time.

These cessations of breathing can last anywhere from a minimum of ten to thirty seconds and upwards to as much as four hundred per night in those with severe sleep apnoea. Some individual are so plagued by the condition that they are awakened every thirty seconds a night with another apnoea episode.

Important Sleep Apnoea Facts

Sleep apnoea is very common disorder and People that have an untreated case of sleep apnoea face a risk of stroke that is four times as likely as those who are not afflicted. Untreated sleep apnoea sufferers are also three times as likely to have heart disease.

On the average night’s sleep, a sufferer of obstructive sleep apnoea may experience 60 apnoeas per hour. This accounts for an average of 400 apnoeas per night!

People that are afflicted with sleep apnoea face a steep increase in chances of being part of a traffic accident. Due to the sleeplessness and lack of ability to concentrate that are associated with apnoea, sufferers are six times more likely to die in a car accident.

Thousands of deaths occur on an annual basis that relate to cardiovascular problems that in one way or another are connected to sleep apnoea. These problems include high blood pressure, hypertension and stroke, among others.

As these statistics show, sleep apnoea is not a problem to be taken lightly. The risks of mortality faced by those with untreated obstructive sleep apnoea are simply not worth it when you consider all the types of sleep apnoea treatment available. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that they suffer from sleep apnoea unless someone else brings it to their attention.

If you snore get advice now from your doctor because lots of help is readily available. As they correctly say in the United States – Check it out!

As well as saving you from many sleepless nights – it could save your life.

By John Redfern