Hearing loss linked to snoring and sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea and heavy snoring is independently associated with a 31 per cent increase in high frequency hearing impairment.

Sleep apnoea is positively linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, amongst numerous other serious health problems, but a large U.S. study has now found that the sleeping disorder is also linked to hearing loss.

Listening

Sleep apnoea is the temporary cessation of breathing during sleep, which in some cases is due to obstruction of the upper airway by enlarged tonsils causing loud snoring and fighting for their breath.

The study investigated data gathered from almost 14,000 U.S. participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study. About 53 per cent of respondents were women and on average the subjects were 41 years old. All of them dad completed detailed in-home sleep studies and audiometric (hearing) testing. About 10 per cent of the study volunteers had sleep apnoea and 30 per cent had some form of hearing impairment, according to the study.

People in the study were more likely to have hearing impairment if they were of Cuban and Puerto Rican backgrounds, had a higher body mass index or BMI (an indication of being overweight), were people who snored, or had been diagnosed as having sleep apnoea.

The study authors found that sleep apnoea was associated with a 31 per cent increase in high frequency hearing impairment and a 90 per cent increase in low frequency hearing impairment. Sleep apnoea was also linked to a 38 per cent increase in both high and low frequency hearing loss. Speech tends to fall in the low frequency range so the results are both serious and widespread amongst snorers and apnoea sufferers.

The findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego, California last week and further studies into the wider community are now being planned.

Habitual, loud snoring is a key symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea, (OSA), a disease that affects 12-18 million Americans and is known to increase the risk of many health problems including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction and depression. The actual number of sufferers is definitely much higher and may be 70-80 million, as most cases of OSA are known to be untreated and undiagnosed – in fact, the key indicator of the problem, heavy snoring, is foolishly ignored.

Only one thing can be concluded from the study the lead Researcher said: “There is the potential that treating sleep apnoea may improve hearing loss.” and she went on to say that people with sleep apnoea should be screened for hearing impairment since it is shown to be associated with the disorder.

For many sleep apnoea sufferers relief lies in an effective treatment called oral appliance therapy which uses a “mouth-guard” like device worn only during sleep to hold your jaw forward and open your airway. Pioneered by dentists, oral appliance therapy began its surge into sleep apnoea treatment plans in the early 1990s.

Now, more than 20 years later, a growing mass of research is proving that oral appliances are a highly effective alternative to the inconvenience and difficulties of using CPAP, (a mask based oxygen supply), and that patients are more likely to use oral appliances, even seven days a week, to get a good night’s rest, improve their health, and even prolong their lives.

So if you’ve got hearing problems, and you snore, do something about it.

John Redfern


Britain needs to wake up to its sleep problem

Over the last week or two there’s been a great deal of attention from the nation’s media on the problem of disturbed sleep – even the lack of sleep altogether.

Scientists from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Manchester and Surrey universities warn collectively that today’s society has become ‘arrogant’ and ignores the fact that cutting sleep leads to health problems. They go on to say jointly that people, and governments, need to take the problem seriously. Cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, infections and obesity amongst many other things have all been linked to reduced sleep caused by a number of key factors – snoring being one of them.

Our body clock drives huge changes in the human body. It alters alertness, mood, physical strength and even the risk of stroke and heart attack in its daily rhythm. It stems from our 4 billion year evolutionary past when we were active in the day and then resting at night.

Young boy in bedroom using laptop and listening to MP3 player

Deposit Photos – The Digital Bedroom

Scientists warn that modern life and 24-hour society mean many people are now “living against” their body clocks with damaging consequences for their health and well-being. They have concluded that we’re getting between one and two hours less sleep a night than 60 years ago and are not trying to put this right.

This is an acute problem in teenagers and they had found some who sleep by popping their parent’s sleeping tablets in the evening and then downing three Red Bulls the following morning. The evidence suggests modern technology is now keeping all us up later into the night and cutting our sleep – not just our children and teenagers.

The ‘Blue Light’ problem

Prof Charles Czeisler, from Harvard University, said energy efficient light bulbs, as well as smartphones, tablets and computers had high levels of light in the blue end of the spectrum which is “right in the sweet spot” for disrupting the body clock.

In addition, opticians say people are so addicted to smartphones they may be increasing their risk of eye damage. They are warning that overuse of phones and other devices like computers, tablets, and flat screen TVs can lead to long-term damage.

6th Form students to start classes in the afternoon.

Some results are extraordinary, and in one case, Sixth Formers at a private school in Surrey are to begin their lessons in the afternoons to allow them to sleep later in the mornings. The pioneering decision will mean that A-level classes will finish at 19:00. Teenagers have a biological disposition “to going to bed late and struggling to get up early”, the school said.

Our 24-hour society now mean that many people are now “living against” their body clocks with damaging consequences for their health and wellbeing. One of the main causes of sleep loss, or poor quality sleep, is snoring – a problem that may be caused by numerous things; being overweight, lack of exercise, natural ageing, smoking, excess alcohol in the evenings, and numerous other lifestyle factors. Shift work can increase the problem along with poor sleep regimes as we’re finding amongst many social groups today.

It’s easily put right. The solution is in your hands, or in this case your mouth, when you acquire an oral appliance to wear at night. It’s a simple mouthpiece like a sports guard that will ensure healthy, restful and more satisfying sleep.

By John Redfern

Image: Depositphotos_4768703_original


Does snoring ruin your sex life?

According to the results of a recent poll published in a leading UK Newspaper the answer is definitely ‘YES’ – and the results of the poll were devastatingly clear.

Which sums up your Relationship (1)

Which of the above photos do you think best sums up your relationship?

• More than 20% of both sexes claimed that snoring put them off being intimate with their partner
• Almost 30% of men said it had taken the spark out of their sex lives, and nearly 50% were embarrassed by their snoring
• Nearly 40% of couples admitted that it had pushed them into separate bedrooms and had even led to break ups and divorce in some cases
• Nearly half of women claimed that snoring had an extremely negative effect on their relationship overall, not just in bed, due to fatigue and irritability
• In the older age groups, from 45-54, the results were even more positive, and they stated that snoring had totally ruined their sex life, and 1 in 5 even claimed that it had caused a total relationship breakdown

It has been long known that in addition to these things that snoring contributes to erectile dysfunction and decreased libido, and this adds to the problem in a big way.

There’s nothing like a disturbed night’s sleep caused by a snoring partner to inject lots of friction into a relationship and this recent survey certainly proved it, according to the experts in sleep research, and relationships, who carried it out. Disturbed sleep was found to be seriously detrimental to relationships, and even just one poor night had an impact.

During the period of the study the people who slept the worse, on average, found that they were much more likely to argue with their partners on the next day. In interviews, the sources of the conflict were evaluated and irritability and fatigue were the key triggers. Heavy snoring had often forced them to sleep apart and move into separate bedrooms – for ‘survival’ reasons. Worryingly though, 70% of men and 66% of women found that this made them ‘emotionally distant’ from their partner.

One respondent said “My husband has had to sleep in a separate bedroom due to his snoring for years now. Sadly his snoring has taken the romance out of our relationship. We go to bed separately and get ready in separate rooms in the morning.”

The survey was also covered in leading US Newspapers, including The New York Times, who stated: “Instead of spontaneous interaction, couples have to make a planned effort to meet up. Over time, the loss of sexual activity can lead to a lack of intimacy and bonding”.

Spending time in bed together is crucial for couples because it is devoid of the distractions of work, children and obligations. In addition to sex, couples cuddle, touch, and chat, all of which are an important part of the bonding process that holds relationships together.

They recommend that to avoid the early untimely demise of your sex life, the guilty partner should get some form of treatment for the underlying problem – snoring. Doing so will not just improve your relationship, but also address the problem of sleep apnoea, which affects many snorers and is a rising problem due to our lifestyles.

The good news is that both snoring and sleep apnoea are very treatable. In most cases, snoring, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido and other health issues that may be preventing sex can be easily treated and reversed.

By John Redfern

 

 


How Women sleep differently to Men – and why it matters

It has been known for a long time that women take longer to fall asleep and new research from the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) has verified it. As well as being slower to get to sleep, they feel ‘sleepiness’ more than men and have an increased risk of insomnia. On the other hand, when asleep, they spend much longer in deep sleep.

Insomnia

Much of the understanding of why sex differences in sleep exist and also how these differences may affect treatment lag far behind any other areas of knowledge with regards to sleep and sleep disorders. Much of what we have in medical literature focuses only on snoring and sleep apnoea, long regarded solely as a male problem – but certainly not true.

Hoping to correct this lack of information, some of the leading names in women’s sleep research were brought together by SWHR to gather information on the the matter, including sleep experts from both Harvard and Stanford Universities. They found that hormonal shift seems to play a big role; and these times for a woman are when she appears most vulnerable to insomnia, both monthly, and also around the menopause. Restless legs syndrome is also much more common in pregnant women than in men, children, or women who have not had children, but the exact hormonal connection however is yet to be established.

Women are bringing sleep-related concerns to their doctors, but the statistics aren’t pointing to the real problems that exist. Sleep apnoea is a prime example of this.

Men with the condition are likely to report snoring, snorting, or waking up and gasping for breath. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to report fatigue, depression and un-refreshing sleep.

All this underlines that much more detailed research is required into women’s sleep disorders as well as the current work that mostly deals with men. Sleep apnoea of course is far from exclusive to men, and the number of women sufferers is growing – but is this through an increase in the number of sufferers or improved diagnosis?

Further to this in the UK, Sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley of the University of Surrey told the British Science Festival how bed-sharing causes rows over snoring and duvet hogging, and this often robs women of precious sleep. One study found that, on average, couples suffered 50% more sleep disturbances if they shared a bed.

Dr Stanley points out that historically we were never meant to share our beds. He said the modern tradition of the marital bed only began with the industrial revolution, when people moving to overcrowded towns and cities found themselves short of living space. Before the Victorian era it was not uncommon for married couples to sleep apart, and in ancient Rome, the marital bed was a place for sexual congress but not for sleeping.

He said poor sleep was linked to depression, heart disease, strokes, lung disorders, traffic and industrial accidents, and divorce, yet sleep was largely ignored as an aspect of health.  Dr Robert Meadows, a sociologist at the University of Surrey, said: “People actually feel that they sleep better when they are with a partner but the evidence suggests otherwise.”

In his study he found that when couples share a bed and one of them moves in his or her sleep, there is a 50% chance that their slumbering partner, more often the woman, will be disturbed as a result. Despite this, couples are reluctant to sleep apart, with only 8% of those in their 40s and 50s sleeping in separate rooms, the British Science Festival heard.

By John Redfern


Community initiative by West Ham United puts the focus on health

Having watched my regular weekly dose of soccer on BBC, which amounted to the highlights of the weekend games, I watched as part of that an interview with Tony Carr, MBE, the Director of Youth Team Development at Premier League Club, West Ham United.

West Ham paid tribute to Dylan Tombides, a promising Australian youth international who died aged 20 in London on Friday, following a three-year battle with testicular cancer, and was honoured by his club before Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

It is not just Tony Carr’s work for the club though that deserves special mention. He is a tireless worker for charity – not least for youngsters with diabetes – which is something that is often related by experts to snoring and sleep disorders. Three years ago, Carr was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. After learning to live with the condition and proving it should be no barrier to a healthy and active life, Carr has been involved with a number of awareness events.

As a result the club have set up regular fitness training events hosted by both coaching staff and players that the local fan base are invited to attend, and it reminded me of some recent events in the United States where a similar thing occurred.

Aaron Rodger of the Green Bay Packers

NFL fans were stunned when football legend Reggie White – known as the ‘Minister of Defence’ throughout his career with the Green Bay Packers – died in 2004 at the age of 43 from issues related to obstructive sleep apnoea.

To quote Diabetes Health:

“As a problem that disrupts the healthy sleep of millions of Americans and puts them at risk of a host of health problems, sleep apnoea is especially common among former professional football players, although like most of the population, they usually don’t know they have it.”

As a consequence, to raise awareness of the devastating and potentially deadly disorder, the ‘Hall of Fame’ has launched SAPP – the Sleep Apnoea Prevention Project, with the objective of encouraging everyone with undiagnosed sleep apnoea to take measures to improve their condition.  Because obstructive sleep apnoea is often linked to obesity, it makes sense that it is an especially big risk for former NFL players, who are encouraged to ‘beef up’ during their playing years but are plagued with obesity in retirement.

It’s an everyday problem for many in the United Kingdom too, as we age or become overweight. Different than snoring, obstructive sleep apnoea is caused by blockages of the airways during sleep, often from excess tissue in the throat or muscles that have grown slack with age. Those who have it essentially stop breathing during sleep, sometimes as many as a hundred times a night, which prevents the deep, restorative sleep that is essential to good health. Instead of waking refreshed, they wake up exhausted.

Awareness of this condition is especially important, because despite the warning signs – snoring, daytime exhaustion, headaches and sexual dysfunction among them – many of those living with sleep apnoea have no idea.  Often the first to report it is the partner, who cannot sleep for their snoring and hears them gasping for breath in the night.

Without treatment in one form or another, the only outcome is a shortened lifespan, so it makes sense to take steps as soon as possible to prevent the problem to catch it. Simply by wearing a simple oral appliance, very like a sports mouth protector, the problem is often overcome at a very early stage in the simplest of ways. The appliance moves the jaw forward slightly during sleep and keeps the airways open, so the brain is not deprived of regular oxygen.

More sports led initiatives of this nature are really needed, and have amazing value in pointing out that preserving good health is so key – and often so simple.

By John Redfern


Snoring and lack of sleep are major problems in Britain

Two more leading companies have published findings in the last week that focus on this area, and their names may come as a surprise, as neither one of them is a part of the health industry, or even connected to it.

The first is Febreze, who are known primarily for products that improve air freshness, and who have published a report stating that stress, bad dreams and partner’s snoring means millions of us are struggling to nod off every single night of the week, and worse still at weekends. They claim that almost nine in ten of us have nights of disturbed sleep because of these problems, with more than a third saying they rarely have a full night’s good sleep.

It amounts on average, to almost two hours of vital shut-eye being lost on three different nights a week due to restlessness for one of the above stated reasons, and in total that’s nearly six hours each and every week which amounts to around 12 full days each year.

Couple arguing

Around one in three even admitted they get really angry or resent their partner for sleeping soundly next to them while they are lying awake and struggling to sleep.

Overall the lack of sleep is affecting their mood and productivity, with almost two thirds also admitting people have even commented to them on how bad they look after a disturbed night’s sleep, whilst more than eight in ten also admitted that they struggle to concentrate at work after a night of tossing and turning, with 22% making mistakes, or even struggling to make it in to work, with another one in ten nodding off en route.

Joining them in publishing facts on this same subject were a company aptly named Late Rooms, a website for hotel bookings, and offering exactly what its name says.

Their report underlined the fact that if you’ve ever been woken up by your partner’s loud snoring, then you’re certainly far from alone; in fact it applies to approximately one third of women, although only 15 per cent of men. On the whole men snore more, and louder, but it’s not restricted to them as a problem, and more women are growing aware of the fact that they do it too.

The findings state that only a quarter of the population gets an uninterrupted night of sleep on a regular basis – and a massive 3 out of 4 people don’t. This causes health and mood problems, even affects your looks and is often harmful to close relationships.

A well-known Throat and Nose Specialist, in commenting on the findings, said that snoring “can be a serious cause of marital and relationship disharmony.” He went on to add: “The majority of patients I see in my clinic are men, although there are women too, and they almost always have a story about how their snoring is affecting their relationship. Either they end up sleeping in separate beds several times a week, or they don’t and it simply causes major arguments.”

We are all aware today that snoring can so easily be prevented and it’s important to act to resolve it before it escalates to a major health or domestic problem, or even becomes life-threatening if it develops further.

By John Redfern