New DVLA report blames Sleep Apnoea for 20% of Motorway accidents

Further to similar statements by Government Motoring Departments in other countries such as the USA, the DVLA in Britain has made a statement that a greater awareness of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) could save lives.

Surprisingly, very few of the major UK media sources have picked up on either the report or the story, with the exception of The Telegraph, and some publications in the specialist commercial motoring press like Fleet News.

Further to a new guide to the condition, the DVLA have underlined the fact that OSA is thought to cause as many as one-fifth of accidents on Britain’s motorways, and as a consequence needs greater recognition amongst all drivers, particularly commercial, as this increased knowledge and higher awareness could doubtless save lives.

Sleep apnoea recently has been closely linked to a number of fatal driving incidents involving commercial vehicles, including the death of a Newcastle pensioner who was hit by a bus and killed in 2011 after the driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel. The bus driver was later diagnosed with OSA.

Drivers of commercial vehicles are thought to be particularly likely to develop this highly dangerous and life-disrupting sleep disorder as it has been found to have a much higher likelihood of being found amongst middle-aged men with sedentary jobs such as driving.

As a consequence the DVLA has produced a document highlighting the key facts around driving and obstructive sleep apnoea which is targeted at all drivers but especially those handling HGV vehicles. The report was developed on behalf of the DVLA and group of specialist OSA experts, and it has taken into account input not only from clinicians, but also from leading members of the haulage industry.

Professor John Stradling, a participant, and spokesman for one of the UK’s leading Sleep Clinics made the following statement this week: “It is vital that we do not push the problem underground by making it difficult for commercial drivers to admit that they have symptoms. We have worked closely with the DVLA to agree a consistent process that highlights the importance and the longer term benefits of seeking treatment quickly.”

However, OSA can be treated very quickly, and very easily, and when the main symptoms such as snoring are controlled, quality of life can be improved. However, if it is left untreated, sleep apnoea is likely to impact on a person’s general health and is known to reduce life expectancy.

The biggest worry in seeking treatment is that commercial drivers have fears about losing their licence, and as a consequence their job, but this may not be something that necessarily is a result if help is sought quickly.

The Head of Policy for the DVLA has made the following official statement:

“We understand from talking to our members that many drivers have concerns about seeking medical advice for fear of losing their licence. However this document provides answers to many questions about OSA and also offers advice on how to access treatment as quickly as possible.”

The DVLA stress that safety is their key concern – both for drivers and others – and their main objective is to encourage drivers to come forward straight away if they are experiencing any of the key symptoms such as heavy snoring coupled with regular pauses in their breathing during sleep.

The DVLA emphasises that once drivers are receiving treatment, and the main symptoms are brought under control, driving can be resumed without jeopardizing the life and safety of themselves and other road users.

The conclusion is to seek professional help quickly from experts and to preferably consult with your Dentist – or your GP. There are simple proven appliances readily available that are NHS Approved . These items include easy-to-use products such as mouthpieces and chin straps to wear whilst asleep. These are readily available and will rapidly eliminate the symptoms.

For further Government advice and information use this link OSA and Driving where you can download the new DVLA leaflet ‘Tiredness can Kill’.

By John Redfern


Do you suffer from sleep apnoea? If so – your Dentist is the key

Snoring cannot only be an embarrassing problem for some people but it’s also a medical condition that one should get rid of as fast as possible.

Today, there are a host of devices, treatments, solutions and products that are available in the market, but sadly not all of them are effective enough to bring a permanent solution to a problem which can also vary greatly in intensity – with obstructive sleep apnoea perhaps being the worst type that has been identified.

One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnoea is very heavy snoring. The simple dictionary definition of the word apnoea is that it is ‘a temporary cessation of breathing during sleep’, the term originating from ‘apnoia’, the Ancient Greek word for breathless.

As we all know well, it is vitally important to get a solid night of sound sleep; in fact, so important that a person’s overall health and their ability to function effectively during the day depend on it very much indeed. However, when our normal breathing patterns are badly disrupted during sleep, it’s not unusual for a person’s health to deteriorate alongside this.

Although today the problem of snoring is very easily solved for many people, as previously stated, in some extreme cases it can also be a sign of a much more serious medical condition known as sleep apnoea, a disorder that causes a person to actually stop breathing during their sleep.

One of the main indicators of sleep apnoea is that there will be a frequent incidence of abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep, and these can be quite frightening to an observer as each one can last for several seconds. They will happen throughout the night and be repeated many times. These episodes of apnoea are caused by a blockage, in some form or other that occurs within the airway, and this impedes the natural flow of breathing. This is often the fault of relaxed tissue in the throat that causes the airway to be closed – not a blockage by some foreign object that makes this happen.

If you are a loud, habitual snorer, and are perhaps aware of this type of incident through being told by your partner, then you should act to resolve the problem – and not delay. You should get professional help because it will not go away on it’s own. There are easy solutions available.

One main treatment for sleep apnoea is known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in which the patient is fitted with a device that keeps the airways open during sleep. It’s been proved already that CPAP can reduce the levels of daytime sleepiness and a study from the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital in the UK now shows that CPAP also has a beneficial effect on high blood pressure or hypertension.

But it’s often not popular with sleep apnoea sufferers and that can be a problem. Not only has it been found to deter many sufferers from seeking treatment, but also amongst those who have – many have tried and rejected it for a variety of reasons.

A solution to this resistance is seen to be emerging – particularly in the USA where sleep apnoea has long been seen as a really serious health problem – with the well-earned and appropriate nickname of ‘The Silent Killer’.

The trend has been set by the leading Dental Practices in the USA and it has been found to be a successful solution with many of their patients who suffer from this major and dangerous sleep disorder.

The solution is proving to be the Custom snoring mouthpiece as OSA sufferers simply accept it far more readily – and although not the ultimate in OSA treatment, which is always regarded as CPAP, this makes for a sensible alternative. After all – without it – you will remain totally untreated.

The following statement is by a leading Chicago Dental Practitioner but his point of view is widely voiced and accepted throughout the USA and Canada – and is now being followed and recommended as a treatment and solution by some leading UK Dental Practices.

“If you or a family member is aware of a snoring problem, a custom snore guard can be made to help reduce or eliminate snoring woes”.

“They resemble an athletic mouth guard, worn by many sportsmen, which is a small oral appliance worn during sleep to reduce snoring by moving the jaw forward and preventing the tongue from closing off the air passage. With your air passage open and unobstructed, snoring is greatly reduced which results in a quiet, restful sleep for you and the members of your household.”

A few minutes time with your Dentist will set you on the way to safeguard your health and eliminate many of your possible future problems.

Many sleep apnoea patients go undiagnosed – thought to be as many as 80%. OSA is well known to be closely related to diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and even possibly some forms of Cancer. Recent research has also shown close links to Alzheimer’s disease.

Discuss a Custom Mouthpiece with your Dentist. They are readily and quickly available from specialists such as SleepPro, via your Dentist, who can quickly organize an efficient, comfortable, well-fitted mouthpiece for you. It’s a very simple, inexpensive, and known effective solution to your sleep disorder and what may eventually prove to be a highly dangerous health problem.

By John Redfern


Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Increases Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

In a recently published study, the sleeping habits of 10,701 people were studied for 5.3 years to see if there were any incidences of sudden cardiac deaths. Most of the over millions people who suffer from this disorder are undiagnosed.

During the course of the study, 142 participants died of sudden cardiac death. Most of these participants were aged 60 years and above, and had 20 or more apnoea episodes per hour of sleep. They also had oxygen saturation below 78 per cent during sleep.

Researchers of the study found that the risk of sudden death increases by double for people with sleep apnoea.

The authors of the study released a press report wherein they stated that when people breath properly during their sleep; their oxygen saturation level is 100 per cent. If due to improper breathing while sleeping, this oxygen saturation level goes below 78 per cent, the risk of sudden cardiac death increases significantly. They also revealed that people with sleep apnoea usually die from sudden cardiac arrests between midnight and six-o-clock in the morning while people without sleep apnoea mostly die of sudden cardiac arrests between six-o-clock in the morning and noon.

Sleep apnoea has also been linked with other cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, and atrial fibrillation. In its most severe form it can be treated by losing weight, implementing sleep posture changes and using devices that deliver air pressure through a mask placed over the nose while a person sleeps.

Latterly, due to the severe dislike of these breathing masks and machines, many specialists have been recommending the more readily acceptable oral mouthpiece as a useful solution – they are easier to use, instant, and highly affordable. The recommendation though is for the custom version as opposed to the off the shelf version.

Sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder that can affect anyone. Recently it has received much attention. Nonetheless many people who have sleep apnoea have yet to have the “who me” moment. The reason the moment is so elusive for so many is that they don’t have a strong feeling that they have any problems sleeping. In some ways it’s like high blood pressure. You can have a serious problem, but be completely unaware of it until you have your blood pressure checked.

Who are most often affected by sleep apnoea?

People with sleep apnoea are most likely to be: men, overweight, over 60 years, those who consume alcohol or take sleep medicines, smoke, or have chronic rhinitis. Of course having combinations just makes it more likely.

Sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder that can affect anyone. Recently it has received much attention. Nonetheless many people who have sleep apnoea have yet to have the “who me” moment. The reason the moment is so elusive for so many is that they don’t have a strong feeling that they have any problems sleeping. In some ways it’s like high blood pressure. You can have a serious problem, but be completely unaware of it until you have your blood pressure checked. By the way, when WAS the last time you checked your blood pressure?

In most cases, except for the tell-tale symptoms, which I will mention momentarily, the only way you might know you have sleep apnoea is if someone has complained that you snore like a Saturn 5. In many cases the person sleeps through the apnoea event without waking up or sensing that anything is out of the ordinary.

How can I tell if I have sleep apnoea?

There are two types of sleep apnoea, obstructive and central but the most common by far is obstructive.

The most common symptom is daytime sleepiness. As humans, we have very complex sleep cycles, and these cycles must run uninterrupted for you to be fully rested and refreshed. Sleep apnoea interrupts these cycles everywhere from 5 to 30 times per hour, which can turn 7 hours of sleep into just 1 or 2 hours of effective sleep, and this makes you feel tired and sleepy while you’re awake.

The next most likely symptom, aside from someone telling you that you snore horribly, is waking up with a dry mouth or slightly sore throat. This symptom indicates you were breathing through your mouth most of the night.

What causes obstructive sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea occurs most often when a person is sleeping on their back. It occurs because when you are in that position, and as the muscles of the throat relax, the passageway for airflow begins to collapse. The diaphragm continues to contract but there is no airflow into the lungs. During exhalation what air is in the lungs is exhaled normally and during the next inhalation the collapse happens again. Eventually, a shortage of oxygen causes you to move slightly or turn your head, the muscle tone of the throat returns briefly and you breathe normally for several breaths. Then it happens all over again.

Through slight adjustment of your jaw, the mouthpiece mentioned previously helps to keep your airways open during sleep and prevents the apnoea.

Is it really a big deal?

YES Number 1

A study published on June 11, 2013, in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, found that in people (mean age = 53 years) with severe sleep apnoea, i.e. occurring more than 20 times per hour, there was a 60% increase in the risk of sudden cardiac death during sleep. In people with more than 20 episodes per hour, there was an 81% increase in risk, compared to those without apnoea.

YES Number 2

In a presentation given at the May, 2013 American Thoracic Society 2013 International Conference, a link was established between sleep apnoea and Alzheimer’s disease. It was noted that Alzheimer’s disease improved once treatment for sleep apnoea began and it may be that treatment for sleep apnoea might evolve into a form of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

YES Number 3

Sleep apnoea has also been associated with increased risk for hypertension, diabetes, and liver dysfunction.
So spread the word. Sleep apnoea, although it is destructive to your health, should not be neglected because it is very easily treatable.

By John Redfern


What causes snoring? The Daily Mail tries to find the answer and the solution.

Perhaps you’re reading this after suffering yet another night of disturbed sleep thanks to snoring. It is estimated that between a third and a half of the UK population snores – perhaps even as many as 30 million people.The noise we associate with the problem is generated by vibration, as air rushes past the slack tissues in the mouth, nose or throat.

Although the Daily Mail only evaluated 6 snorers in total for this lead article in the newspaper, it was done extremely thoroughly and it has produced some interesting conclusions and recommendations.

The project was carried out on their behalf by a leading authority, Dr Guy Leschziner, who is currently a sleep physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, and also at London Bridge Hospital Sleep Centre.

“The classic image of the snorer is the overweight older man, but it affects everyone, Snoring is viewed as a bit of a joke – but for many people it can have a major impact on their health, as well as causing marital strife, It can also induce real anxiety in single people because they worry their snoring will put new partners off.”

“The problem is many people don’t really know what provokes their snoring.”

He goes on to describe all the possible key triggers that may be instrumental in someone snoring heavily, and there are many – including a thick neck with extra fat, sleeping on your back, a deviated septum, an allergy or cold, and numerous lifestyle factors such as alcohol, sleeping pills and obesity.

He emphasises how serious the health consequences of snoring can be, and how important it is to find the appropriate treatment for each individual – and proceeds to evaluate 6 persistent snorers as an example of this.

The six persistent snorers were put through a ‘snoring MOT’ to establish the cause — this included a nasal endoscopy, where a flexible tube with a camera is inserted through the nostril, and a sleep apnoea test to measure how many times they stop breathing in an hour. A score of 10 is classified as sleep apnoea.Candidates were also assessed for daytime sleepiness.

Dr Leschziner and Miss Elfy Chevretton, an ear, nose and throat consultant, analysed the results, giving a fascinating insight into this universal problem.

Each of the named participants had their lifestyle and problem examined in detail, right down to their height, weight, and resultant BMI – and an expert analysis was made for each one of them. This uncovered contributory problem areas such as narrowed nasal passages, a deviated septum, a broken nose, short oversized neck, large tonsils and even a cat allergy – all of which were major contributors to the problem of snoring in each case.

A suggested treatment followed that was based on their full case analysis and the recommendations varied according to each individual’s problem, including surgery in one case, where there had been a badly broken nose.

Some were advised to stop smoking, lose weight, or make other sensible lifestyle adjustments that were part causes to the condition.

Most of them had some level of sleep apnoea where the CPAP method is the usual recommendation but of course many individuals find this hard to maintain due to either claustrophobia, or one of the several side effects involved. Current opinion is that where CPAP is difficult for the sufferer to use then they should use a mouthpiece instead, as this is preferable as next option and will help the problem without the side effects. For some it was also suggested they should try a chin strap if that suited them better due to having an open mouth whilst sleeping.

In the case of sufferers who had jaw problems, for whatever reason, the mouthpiece was the first recommendation each time, and in one case, that of overbite, a custom device was suggested instead of surgery.

All the individuals had different problems and different causes but the recommendation was always the same – do something about it.

The key recommendation to all snorers was to stop ignoring the problem and to either take specialist advice, or get treatment in one form or another, or to do both.

It can, and will save lives – yours if you are the one who snores.

By John Redfern


Rugby Latest: The 2013 British & Irish Lions tour Australia – with Mouthpieces

Never has a Lions Squad been so well prepared for what can only be described as the toughest Tour destination possible – Australia.

Every day the BBC will focus on the detail of the Squad’s day with surprising content revealed on Day One. Getting up at 6.45am for the first training session of the day taking place in the portable cryotherapy chambers, which subject you to temperatures as low as Minus160C and speed up a player’s physical recovery, must be a bit of a shock to anyone who has not experienced it before.

The Team is thoroughly equipped in every way as you can imagine and the resultant baggage can apparently only be described as incredible.

Here’s a quote or two from Prop, Adam Jones, of Ospreys and Wales.

“The first day we met up in London we had to make sure we’d got all the right kit. There’s a hell of a lot: six sets of Adidas training kit, eight T-shirts, a couple of pairs of shorts and tracksuits, a jacket to wear to the stadium for the anthems, two Thomas Pink blazers, six shirts, two pairs of shoes, underwear, you name it. Just as well we don’t have to check all that in ourselves.”

Basically they had everything that they could possibly need in terms of both personal and support equipment – and I mean everything.

Adam continues “I was rooming with (England prop) Mako Vunipola during our first week down at the Vale of Glamorgan base we use with Wales, and I can confirm the rumours are true. He is a phenomenal snorer. I snore myself but I’m not a particularly deep sleeper so with Mako barely three feet away from me, the ear plugs were well and truly wedged in.”

It sounds like the hotel could be well and truly shaking….or maybe not.

“We left camp on Thursday and spent a few nights at home before returning to London on Sunday for a bit more training and then the farewell dinner. I had to make an emergency trip to the dentist while I was home. It was nothing to do with my teeth though. I lost my mouthpiece. I think I put it in my car after my last game for the Ospreys and it’s disappeared.”

So I had to get my mouth measured up to get a new one fitted, so they can send it out to me. A bit of a pain, but probably just as well, as I only had one spare, so I need some new ones”

He should have gone to SleepPro ….. who wish you guys Good Luck down under….and as a matter of fact, we have them now in Red, in White, and in Blue…. conveniently patriotic to mark the occasion.

By John Redfern