Do you have obstructive sleep apnoea? Is it legal for you to be driving?

Falling asleep at the wheel is a criminal offence and could lead to a prison sentence. The reason for the sleepiness actually makes no difference. The risk of motor vehicle accidents is higher in people with sleep apnoea but treatment leads to considerable reduction in motor vehicle accident risk.

Car accident

Another new study finds that obstructive sleep apnoea is associated with a significantly increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, but this risk is reduced when sleep apnoea is treated effectively. Results show that patients with sleep apnoea were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a motor vehicle accident,

The study also found that the incidence of motor vehicle accidents was reduced by 70 per cent among sleep apnoea patients who received the correct treatment. Study results are published in the March issue of the journal Sleep and have attracted much attention around the world.

In the United States the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common sleep disease afflicting at least 25 million adults in the U.S and similar percentages exist in most other countries with men having a higher rate of OSA, and most being untreated.

Commercial drivers in countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United States have had to come to terms with strict new medical guidelines recently. If they are diagnosed with OSA, and the condition is properly treated with CPAP or a suitable and approved oral appliance, then they may continue to drive.

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) in Britain has stated that a greater awareness of OSA could save many lives each year and have attributed 20% of motorway accidents, often with fatalities, to this disorder.

The current UK Government Directive is that if you have OSA without having daytime sleepiness and it does not impair your driving, you can continue to drive and do not have to notify DVLA.

In recent weeks, Meg Nunn, the MP for Sheffield Heeley was made aware of an accident to one of her own constituents whose nephew had been killed when a lorry ploughed into his car. Since that time she has written to many media to highlight the growing problem of dangerous driving through sleepiness caused by OSA. Although the driver responsible had visited his doctor to complain of the problem, no evaluation had been made and the GP had attributed it to stress.

There is an immeasurable cost to the families of those involved in fatalities, and there are financial implications too. A fatal accident is estimated to cost almost £2 million, with a serious accident at over £0.2 million. Rapid diagnosis and treatment is absolutely essential.

Given that OSA is associated with many other conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, massive savings to the nations involved can also made in the reduction of medication for those conditions.

Current estimates suggests that OSA is prevalent in over 15% of HGV drivers and remains a huge problem, but it is not one without a solution, and a quick one at that.

Approved oral appliances for mild to moderate OSA include British-made SleepPro Custom. The SleepPro Custom was recommended as the best oral appliance for sleep apnoea after stringent testing of a selection of oral appliances that were conducted in 2014 at the NHS Papworth Hospital, the leading UK Hospital for sleep disorders of this kind, This appliance is now available in an anti-microbial version as Custom AM protecting health even more – and the first OSA oral appliance to do so.

For a very small price, medically approved appliances like SleepPro Custom can help you live as much as 20% longer, and as a bonus, help to avoid dangerous motoring accidents that hurt others too.

UK & Ireland                         USA & Canada                   Australia & New Zealand

John Redfern

 


Do you or your partner snore – Doctors warn of major memory problems. Alzheimers could strike 5 years earlier – and Dementia 10 years earlier.

All the major worldwide press and magazines have been headlining the subject this week after new research highlighted this major problem, and it comes at a time when even UK Government is concerned by this massively growing problem.

Older woman refusing medication at home

GP’s currently are undertaking an identification scheme in which NHS England’s aim was for 67% of patients to have a formal diagnosis by 31 March 2015. Although offering GPs £55 per diagnosis, only 59.3% of patients thought to have dementia in the UK have been given a formal diagnosis, and it has fallen well short of targets according to the figures from the GP Health and Social Care Information Centre.

If your partner snores heavily at night, you might simply be tempted to give them a dig in the ribs and go back to sleep, but that noisy irritating sound might actually be an early warning sign of dementia. Researchers have discovered that people who have breathing problems while they are asleep are much more likely to experience an early decline in memory and other brain functions.

In a worrying study, they found that people with sleep apnoea, a condition often typified by heavy snoring, saw mental decline more than 10 years earlier than for those who had no sleep problems. The results also suggested that the onset of Alzheimer’s might be accelerated among those with sleeping problems.

  • People who snore are more likely to experience early memory decline
  • Those with sleep apnoea saw a mental decline over a decade earlier
  • Sleep apnoea is where the throat narrows in sleep, and in doing so causes you to snore and interrupts your breathing
  • Onset of Alzheimer’s may be accelerated if you have sleep problems

Almost 700,000 Britons suffer from sleep apnoea, which is most often found in middle-aged, overweight men, but is fast developing now in more women. The loose tissue from being overweight causes the muscles in the airway to contract during sleep, which cuts off the air supply, and usually results in a heavy snore. Obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA, causes disrupted sleep and daytime exhaustion, pushing up blood pressure to dangerous levels and is closely related to both heart disease and diabetes.

Study author Dr Ricardo Osorio, of New York University, said: ‘Abnormal breathing patterns during sleep such as heavy snoring and sleep apnoea are common in the elderly.’

The research team studied the medical histories of 2,470 people, aged 55 to 90. Their investigation, published in the journal Neurology, found that people with sleep breathing problems were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment at an average age of 77.

Those with no breathing problems, in comparison, did not typically see a decline until age 90 – more than a decade later. Among that group, those who had sleep breathing problems also developed Alzheimer’s disease five years earlier than those who did not have sleep breathing problems, at an average age of 83 compared to 88.

The scientists also found that treating the problem saw significant results.

Dr Osorio said: ‘The findings were made in an observational study and as such, do not indicate a cause-and-effect relationship, The research team team did not establish exactly why heavy snoring might cause early dementia, but previous research has also established links between sleep disruption and dementia.

British charities last night welcomed the findings.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘Most of us don’t think of snoring as something to be concerned about but frequent, loud snoring could be a sign of sleep apnoea – a disorder that affects breathing during sleep.’

Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK, added: ‘This study adds to evidence that disrupted breathing during sleep could be a risk factor for memory and thinking decline in older age. A good supply of oxygen to the brain is vital to keep it healthy and it is interesting to see that treatment of sleep apnoea was associated with a trend towards a later onset of memory and thinking problems.’

Do something about snoring NOW – and don’t forget – or later you might.

John Redfern


Does Technology help you to sleep better?

Some of it is expensive – but read on for news of free apps courtesy of SleepPro.

Nothing throws your day more than a lack of sleep the night before – whether caused by snoring, sleep apnoea, or another sleep disorder. It can ruin your concentration, make you impatient, and cause memory lapses and worse. Over the long term, sleep deprivation can lead to depression, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Depositphotos_12404037_SleepPro_NSZ_15

It can also be deadly. According to Health Authorities worldwide, people who only sleep 6 to 7 hours per night are twice as likely to be involved in a car accident as those who sleep 8 hours or more. Sleep less than 5 hours per night and you are four or five times more likely to be in a car accident. 30% of adults say they sleep an average of 6 hours, and millions more will have a sleep disorder at some point.

However, can technology can actually help sleep – and if so, at what price?

1. Sleep-recording gadgets. There’s been an explosion of gadgets that are designed to monitor your sleep and help you improve it. The market for these gadgets is predicted to be heading for large sums by 2017. ($125m/£85m)

Sense, for example, is a little orb that sits in your room monitoring noise, light, temperature, humidity and air particles, and can wake you up at the ideal part of your sleep cycle. A tiny clip attached to your pillow tracks your movements. In the morning, it can tell you through an Apple app how much sleep you really got, and if something in your environment is disturbing your rest. It’s currently available for pre-order on Kickstarter for $99/68 and will cost $88 /£60 when it ships in November.

Some similar monitors already available include Beddit ($149/£101), which also tracks your heart rate and breathing, and SleepRate ($100/£68), which has an app full of useful information plus a wearable heart rate sensor. Aura ($300/£205) is another upcoming gadget that not only monitors your sleep, but it cycles through light and sound programs to try and improve your sleep.

2. Sleep-recording apps. You may already have a sleep-improving gadget sitting next to you at night. I’m talking, of course, about your smartphone.

A sleep-recording app coupled with your smartphone’s sensors can give you a good idea of your sleep patterns. You usually just have to put your phone on the bed near your pillow and let it do the rest. However, never put your phone under your pillow or cover it with a blanket. The phone could overheat and catch on fire.

Some popular sleep-tracking apps are Sleep Better (Android, Apple; Free), SleepBot (Android, Apple, Free), Sleep Recorder (Windows: Free) and Sleep Cycle Alarm (Android, Apple; $1/£0.65). They all track your movements during sleep.

Do you snore – or do you talk in your sleep? Does your wife, husband or partner swear that they don’t snore? Sleep Recorder is an interesting Windows Phone app that records audio while you sleep and could help you answer those questions.

As well as recording your sleep cycles, Sleep Recorder also maps out where you’ve spent the night and uploads recordings to the cloud where they can be shared with others. Sleep Recorder is a unique app for your Windows Phone that can not only solve sleep related curiosities but also help identify sleep issues.

There is a free version of Sleep Recorder that is ad-supported in the Windows Phone Store. However if you want to buy a version that is advertisement free, Sleep Recorder Pro is also on the website at a special price of of $0.99 (£0.65).

Sleep Better includes a journal to keep track of sleep-affecting factors like diet, exercise and even your dreams. So it’s good for tracking down lifestyle choices that may be hurting your sleep.

SleepBot tracks your sleep like the others but also includes sound recording so you can detect problems like sleep apnea or find out what night-time sounds cause you to move around.

Sleep Cycle Alarm is the one to get if you generally sleep OK but seem to always wake up at a bad time. It uses your movements to predict the perfect time for you to wake up, and includes plenty of restful alarms.

Of course, using technology near bedtime is still a problem. The blue light from most screens tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime even when it isn’t. That’s why many sleep experts recommend shutting down your gadgets at least two hours before bedtime.

John Redfern

 


Oral appliances save relationships where a partner snores

In a recent survey more than a quarter of Americans recently confessed that a snoring bed partner makes them annoyed or angry and the figures for the UK are no different.

Couple Relaxing Together In Bed

According to a survey conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) one in five people who were interviewed also stated that a snoring partner could easily drive them out of their bed as they so always needed a good night’s sleep.

People who snore frequently may find their intimate nights interrupted and their relationship as a whole at risk. Forty per cent of women claimed that snoring in the opposite sex is a turn-off, and nearly one in 10 adults admitted that snoring had hurt at least one of their romantic relationships.

It’s not limited to older age groups either. The demographic group aged from 35 – 44 reported the highest incidence of having sleep problems due to a snoring partner:

  • 43 % claimed their partner ruined their night’s sleep
  • 35% said it really annoyed them and made them irritable
  • 24% said they slept, or wished to sleep in separate rooms

Kathleen Bennett, AADSM president, made the following comment in a press release that accompanied the research findings. “Because it can be highly embarrassing, snoring can often be the elephant in the room when it comes to addressing relationship frustrations and health concerns.”

spouses of untreated sleep apnea sufferers. The AADSM is attempting to build awareness for oral appliance therapy (OAT) as an effective snoring and sleep apnea treatment option.  They wish to educate thousands of consumers about sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment, positioning the field of dental sleep medicine for more growth opportunities as patients seek out more information about sleep apnea and OAT.

In addition to causing couples to sleep apart, 45% of women said they worry about the health of their bed partner when they snore.

Snoring is a tell-tale sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a life-threatening condition that causes sufferers to stop breathing during sleep for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk for serious health problems ranging from congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and heart disease to diabetes, depression and impotence.

Using a continuous positive airway pressure machine, which includes a constantly running motor, tubing and a facemask, has traditionally treated sleep apnea. It is hard to adjust to and sleep with, but it is now more often recommended that milder cases of sleep apnea are treated with OAT – oral appliance therapy.

OAT uses a small mouthpiece device worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway, which the AADSM says makes it a “sexier” treatment than a CPAP mask. Those women surveyed were twice as likely to prefer OAT to CPAP for a bed partner. Custom-made oral appliance devices prevent the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position. OAT is a proven, effective OSA treatment, and the devices also come with the perks of being silent, portable and simple to care for.

By using a device that is less cumbersome and more discreet, it is preferred both by the snorer and their partner, with many couples claiming that oral appliance therapy saved their marriage by giving the snorer more energy and better health, and allowing them both to sleep better and remain in a shared bed.

John Redfern