If you snore heavily is it definitely safe for you to drive?

Being healthy isn’t always about hitting the gym, eating sensibly, and living life in the slow lane; there’s one component of health and wellness that is usually overlooked – and that is sleep. Sleep is vital to one’s well being and more often than not, getting enough sleep can be a nightmare.

For some it’s about following a strict routine and getting to bed at a certain hour. For others, sleep apnoea is often the monster hiding under the bed covers and it’s that which keeps them from getting the rest they need.

Sad man at road accident scene, horizontal

Research conducted by the AA has found that a fifth of motorway collisions in Britain are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel and one in ten crashes on all of Britain’s roads – around 23,300 a year – are also linked to fatigue. Once diagnosed, drivers must inform the DVLA that they have OSA. Once treated however, driving can resume. There is no loss of driving license. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated, OSA can lead to a serious accident, injury and even death of the driver or others on the road.

Their findings also suggest that sleep disturbances may contribute to health disparities among adults.

Symptoms of sleep apnea can be tricky because, like most conditions, even if you have all the tell-tale signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have it. The symptoms of sleep apnoea include loud snoring, choking during sleep as well as feeling exhausted during the day and having to nap on a regular basis. Other factors such as raised blood pressure are also a symptom.

Many people including professional drivers have OSA but are totally unaware. However eventually it’s possible that due to the high number of recent serious accidents on both road and rail, that all commercial drivers, and also train drivers, will soon need to be evaluated for symptoms of OSA.

It’s becoming a very hot topic in North America and what happens there first usually follows elsewhere. According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects more than a quarter of commercial truck drivers.

In the USA further research was carried out as part of the Sleep 4a Healthy Life program, with the following key findings:

  • 28% of drivers have untreated OSA
  • These drivers are six times more likely to be in an accident
  • These drivers are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke
  • Companies spend twice as much on their medical expenses

Research has shown that untreated sleep apnoea increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents, but those who perform the U.S. Department of Transportation medical certifications for commercial vehicle drivers are still getting up to speed on how to screen for this disorder. The recent deadly Amtrak wreck in Philadelphia underscores the importance of responsible screening, diagnosis and treatment for drivers with sleep apnea.

Every year, tens of thousands of fatalities occur on U.S. highways. Heavy to medium trucks accounted for many of them. As the result of long hours spent on the road, commercial vehicle drivers are at increased risk for motor vehicle accidents. Researchers have studied the effect of sleep apnoea and short sleep duration on commercial drivers and found a decrease in neurobehavioral performance particularly when reduced sleep duration and severe sleep apnea are combined,

The daytime sleepiness is made acute as a result of seriously disturbed sleep and this makes handling all machinery and driving vehicles dangerous. Commercial drivers appear to be even more at risk according to the figures. Most commercial drivers are male, and OSA is twice as common in males than females. Medical experts also state that the lifestyle factors of a commercial driver involve prolonged sitting, and this contributes greatly, to the chance of having OSA.

When there is little movement in the legs during most of the day, fluid builds up in the legs and when one goes to lie down to sleep, that fluid travels upward into the neck and can cause an obstructed airway, which is sometimes the cause of sleep apnoea in adults.  Diet is a factor as well since obesity is also linked to sleep apnea. Many professional drivers get their meals at truck stops, which may not help.

However, 90% of those who have OSA are in denial and it goes untreated. As for Snoring – well that’s just something funny isn’t it?  Or is it?

John Redfern

You Don’t Have to Be Obese or Male to Have Sleep Apnoea

For those of you who are unaware: obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA, is a disorder where your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, pushing you out of deep sleep into the lighter kind. This can happen if the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the breathing muscles or, more commonly, if the airway collapses or is blocked. When these blockages, or apnoeas occur, the brain is deprived of oxygen and this can result in numerous health problems if it is left untreated. The key symptoms are heavy snoring, and frequent regular gasping for breath whilst asleep.

beautiful young woman in white bed in the morning, does not want to wake up. Not enough sleep.

Wake up to the problems

These can include a wide range of cardiovascular problems including heart attacks and strokes, Type 2 Diabetes Type, cognitive disorders including earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and daytime tiredness that is dangerous when using or controlling machinery or equipment at work.

Up to 10% of UK women are thought to have this problem, most of them undiagnosed, and as many as 15% of Americans may be living with the same undiagnosed condition. Studies suggest that twice as many men have the condition, but this is probably because women are more likely not to recognise they have a problem and put tiredness down to other matters.

The Sleep Health Index found that a higher proportion of individuals were told by a doctor that they have sleep apnoea than some previous reports. The Index found that 10 % of the US population had been told by their physician that they have sleep apnoea but Epidemiological research estimates that approximately 25 % of the adult population has the condition which suggests that another 15 % of those with sleep apnoea still remain undiagnosed. In the UK only 4% of men and 2% of women have been diagnosed and it could be an equally sizeable problem.

Sleep disturbances are often more subtle in women, with symptoms that could have many causes. The problem usually arrives around menopause, for example, often misleading their doctors, but many suffer due to being very overweight. Up to 30 per cent of people with sleep apnea aren’t overweight however and 10 to 20 per cent don’t even snore according to some researchers. As well as snoring being the primary identifier, signs of OSA in women can include fatigue, dull morning headaches, low mood, irritability or insomnia.

If left neglected, OSA can become very severe and demands highly supervised medical treatment. The “gold standard” treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and a mask that pumps a flow of air into your nasal passages to keep the airway open. This is worn throughout the night as you sleep.

A major problem is that as many as 65% of people who own a CPAP are “non-compliant” — skipping nights, taking it off during the night, or stopping altogether. That’s the problem doubled, because untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, and car accidents from sleepiness at the wheel. Your body will feel the effects of oxygen deprivation even while you’re awake, some research suggests, and more so if you’re female.

Wake up to the solution

However, if it’s treated earlier, medical intervention may not be necessary, and the treatment is easy and inexpensive. A simple mouthpiece worn at night is all that is required. These are medically approved worldwide and both Doctors and Dentists recommend them.

Not only will the use of a mouthpiece, or oral appliance, control mild to moderate OSA, but can also reverse the problems previously caused if use is started early enough with the correct product. To make sure it’s medically approved is important.

Man or woman, if you think you may have untreated OSA, check out the details for suitable oral appliances and act quickly – your life may depend on it, and the benefits will soon be apparent.


John Redfern

Dentists discover the medical benefits of oral appliances to stop snoring

Snoring is a common problem the world over, with about 4 in 10 men and 3 in 10 women being affected. The word ‘snoring’ generally elicits a comical response although the reality is that prolonged, untreated snoring can lead to numerous serious health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, depression, fatigue, impaired brain function and major liver damage.

Single male sprawled out all over the couch sleeping with the TV on. Shows either relaxation or with the mans weight a lazy lifestyle.


Being overweight is a major cause of snoring

It goes without saying that the long-term health impacts of snoring are far from funny and impossible to ignore. Thankfully, as medicine has advanced, oral appliance therapy has been properly recognised.

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea are common in the population and these disorders continuously increase because of the ongoing obesity epidemic in many countries. Today, there are 25 million snorers in the UK -40% of the population, and over 2.5 million people are believed to have undiagnosed OSA – 5% of the total population

Symptoms include daytime sleepiness, poor sleep quality, headache, insomnia and restless legs. In the longer term, a more severe sleep apnoea is associated with serious consequences, such as high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, traffic accidents and early death.

This week Dentists and Sleep Specialists from around all over the world gathered in Seattle for the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). The main objective of the AADSM is to further advance oral appliance therapy (OAT) as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and the event featured several professional development opportunities to help dentists stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in dental sleep medicine.

“With the growing volume of research supporting the benefits of oral appliance therapy, dental sleep medicine is gaining prominence in the medical community,” says Kathleen Bennett, the AADSM President.

“The AADSM Annual Meeting serves to increase the understanding of oral appliance therapy as an effective alternative for sleep apnoea patients who don’t adhere to CPAP—the traditionally prescribed treatment.”

The meeting is an opportunity for all concerned from across the globe to share new research on dental sleep medicine.

This year’s highlighted research abstracts included details of the major impact made by Custom-made Mouthpieces on lowering blood pressure in OSA sufferers who struggle with CPAP. It was clearly shown that OAT clearly helps to reduce high blood pressure in those patients with Hypertension. Custom-made oral appliances significantly lowered both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of these patients, and even went as far as normalising blood pressure in 59% of patients, which is an important step in improving other areas of personal health.

Medically approved oral appliances such as the SleepPro Custom, which have been developed by Dentists and are NHS Approved, are available online, and have proved in controlled tests to be the most effective in cases of mild to moderate OSA and snoring. This mouthpiece has proved itself at the same time to not only be the most cost-efficient, but also to contribute massively to the recovery of personal health, and in doing so, save lives. It is also now available in an anti-microbial version called Custom AM that gives full germ protection orally.

If you snore more than once a week for a prolonged period of time, you are considered to have a long-term snoring problem that needs addressing immediately. Left untreated it may result in critical health problems. If you pause, or gasp for breath when sleeping, it may be even worse than you think and could be sleep apnoea.

So, if this sounds like you or someone close to you then take some action – and don’t delay – DO IT NOW

It’s easy to obtain a customised appliance or alternatively get in touch with a medical professional to see how this problem can be solved

John Redfern

Sleep safe and sound with SleepPro’s new added protection from germs

The prevention of germs is the modern way of helping you keep a healthy mouth. It helps you to keep your teeth, and means you need to have less dental treatment. As you will know the two main causes of tooth loss are decay and gum disease. The better you prevent or deal with these two problems, the more chance you will have of keeping your teeth for life.

Portrait of calm family in a peaceful sleep

Portrait of calm family in a peaceful sleep

It is very important that you keep up a good routine at home to keep your teeth and gums healthy and for that it’s always recommended that you:

  • Brush your teeth well last thing at night with fluoride toothpaste before using your SleepPro mouthpiece
  • Clean in between your teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss – as brushing alone only cleans about 60 per cent of the tooth surface
  • Use a mouthwash that contains antibacterial ingredients to help prevent gum disease, and contains fluoride to help prevent decay.

In the same way that Fluoride helps teeth resist decay, the same principles can be applied to your SleepPro stop snoring mouthpiece. It’s important to keep it hygienic – not only will it prevent germs and subsequent decay, but it will also extend the life of your mouthpiece.

With this in mind you should clean your existing mouthpiece regularly with tablets such as Fresh & Clean. Each pack contains 20 tablets and is ideal for daily or at least weekly use to keep your SleepPro fresh and clean – they do exactly ‘what it says on the tin’.

These tablets have been specifically developed for cleaning oral devices such as removable braces and appliances, and unlike over the counter dental cleaning products these will not degrade and discolour the plastic.

However, as part of the constant strategy to provide improved products for our customers, SleepPro have focused closely on this important aspect of oral hygiene. As a result, they have added a special anti-microbial protection polymer when making two of our most popular appliances.

It is made and supplied by the world’s foremost company in this field – British – as we are – and long experienced with this technology. A product that is protected in this way has been shown to prevent 99.99% of known germs.

The most important benefit of an antimicrobial additive, aside from offering protection, is that it does not change the product into which it is integrated.

  • It will not affect the aesthetics of products.
  • It will have no negative impact on performance.
  • It will not wear off or wash away.

This protection has now been built into the two latest versions of SleepPro Custom and SleepPro Easifit, named Custom AM and Easifit AM to set them apart from the basic version, and for what is only a tiny price premium of an extra £10, they’ll provide you with complete protection from germs for as long as you use that mouthpiece.This new AM technology will not only make your SleepPro mouthpiece more hygienic, but it will keep it fresher for longer, as well as protecting both the surface of the appliance and helping to preserve a good comfortable fit. It will provide long-lasting hygienic protection by creating a surface barrier upon which microbes cannot survive and it will also extend the lifetime of the product you use.

They’re fully approved by the NHS who regularly issue them direct to snoring and sleep apnoea sufferers in many hospitals – and as well as stopping you from snoring, they’ll now protect you from most germs and infections.

These new additional versions of the two appliances have all their usual benefits, but the added anti-microbial content makes them more hygienic for added protection and oral freshness. Unique to SleepPro, this long-lasting protection extends the life of the mouthpiece and reduces the need for cleaning whilst protecting you from the many thousands of possible germs.

These appliances with anti-microbial protection are available now at a little extra for so much more – and you’ll never need cleaning tablets again.

SleepPro Easifit AM                   SleepPro Custom AM

John Redfern


Depression and Sleep Apnea are shown to be closely connected

It’s been widely reported throughout all the International Press this week that men who snore not only disturb their partner and ruin her well-earned vital rest, but might also end up depressing themselves in the process.

Sleep problems are a well-known symptom of depression, but a new study also raises the possibility that they could be the cause of depression as well.


Men who have obstructive sleep apnoea have a higher risk of depression, a study has revealed. Even though the cause-and-effect relationship between the two has still not been totally proved, researchers believe that there is a strong connection between sleep apnoea and depression in men.

Researchers examined a sample of nearly 2,000 Australian men between the ages of 35 and 83 and found that those with excessive daytime sleepiness were 10 per cent more likely to be depressed compared to those without.  According to the researchers from the University of Adelaide and the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, the relationship held up even after taking other risk factors into account.

Of the men examined for the study, none of them had been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea when they began, but 857 of them were assessed for the condition after joining.  Those who were found to have it were twice as likely to be depressed than those who didn’t have the sleep disorder.

Some of the men had very severe sleep apnoea and excessive daytime sleepiness.  Researchers found that the men in this group were 4.2 times more likely to be depressed compared with men who had no sleep issues whatsoever.  Those who suffered from both conditions were also 3.5 times more likely to be depressed than men with only one of them.

The men were evaluated on two separate occasions for depression.  The first time was at the beginning of the study and the second test followed about five years after the first.  That allowed for the researchers to see if the sleep problems could be linked to any recent diagnosis of depression.

The men who had severe sleep apnoea that was found during the study were 2.9 times more likely to become depressed during those five years.

While the link between sleep and depression is still hazy at best, the results definitely provide actionable information for doctors, the study authors concluded.  After patients are diagnosed with depression, they should also be screened for sleep apnoea, even if they don’t seem sleepy, the researchers said.  While it is not yet exactly clear how sleep is linked to depression, it is obvious that those who are depressed often have sleep problems that also need to be addressed by physicians as a part of treatment for patients with depression.

Treating sleep apnoea is vital for good health but is often ignored by the sufferer and therefore remains undiagnosed until far too late. Sleep apnoea can be a dangerous, even fatal, condition because it significantly affects heart function (arrhythmia, stroke, and heart attack) as well as being closely linked with Diabetes Type 2, early onset of Alzheimer’s and hypertension.

A specially fitted oral appliance can solve these problems for the mild to moderate sufferer – so don’t delay if you know that you snore heavily and gasp for breath when sleeping. This problem can be controlled with ease if you use a specially fitted oral appliance like SleepPro Custom, but those sufferers with chronic conditions should urgently seek specialist medical advice and they may need CPAP treatment.

It’s a problem that affects women as well as men – but is twice as prevalent in the latter. This serious sleep disorder can affect anyone but age, obesity and body mass increase the risk. As men are generally larger and heavier than women, their weight can cause the airway to collapse more easily, obstructing the air passage, and cutting off vital oxygen to the brain.

You can solve it by getting an oral appliance, and by doing this you could save your life as well as your marriage.

John Redfern

The results of the above study were presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2015 International Conference in Denver, CO this week.


The NHS Diabetes bill rises to £10 billion a year

In a week where the newspapers in the UK were dominated by the news of a Royal birth that was then followed by the General Election, one newspaper still managed to lead with a front-page story on the above serious health problem.


Diabetes now has over 4 million sufferers in Britain – and to put that in perspective it amounts to nearly three times more than the total number of SNP voters – and as many as UKIP and the SNP added together.

How hard can it be to work out that treatment for OSA needs to be a priority – and not just in Britain – but in all countries. In North America the problem is bigger still. Pre-diabetes afflicts nearly 57 million people, putting them at risk for diabetes, which in turn increases the odds of cardiovascular disease and serious damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels.

The new research study study showed that patients with pre-diabetes can lower their risk of progressing to diabetes when treatment is given, and allowing a full night’s sleep. This statement was made by lead researcher, Sushmita Pamidi, M.D., a former fellow at the University of Chicago who is now on the faculty at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

“Our results should provide a strong incentive for anyone with sleep apnoea, especially pre-diabetic individuals, to improve adherence to their treatment for cardio-metabolic risk reduction.” she said.

A primary lifestyle cause for OSA is being over weight or obese and this is something that any individual can tackle, although it may take valuable time to achieve results. The problem even exists in children where a growing number are having their tonsils removed to treat sleep apnoea – a condition in which the walls of the throat come together or collapse during sleep to block the airway.

A spokesman at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Dental Hospital in Melbourne, said up to 60 per cent of obese children suffer from sleep apnoea compared with 1 per cent of children at a healthy weight and this leads to a wide range of other illnesses if not resolved. The UK has the world’s fifth highest rate of type 1 diabetes in children aged up to 14, according to an international league table compiled by the charity Diabetes UK two years ago. It found that only Finland, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Norway have higher rates.

In essence, if you think that you may have sleep apnoea, which is signalled by loud snoring and daytime sleepiness, then do something about it fast before it’s too late. Either check with your Doctor or Dentist and take the appropriate tests, or in the very least acquire a medically oral appliance such as are now easily available at low cost.

The SleepPro Custom is an ideal example and is recommended by the leading NHS Sleep Disorder Centre at Papworth Hospital as the No.1 choice to treat mild or moderate sleep OSA. Snoring stops immediately and a better night’s sleep produces the obvious results for all concerned, whilst the possible future problems brought about by OSA are brought under control.

John Redfern

Blocked nose causing you to snore?

We probably don’t think about ‘how’ we breathe as it is a natural function and happens anyway. However, how we breathe is very important, and especially so at night – but not just at that time.


During sleep, the body naturally tries to breathe through the nose. When nasal congestion forces mouth breathing during sleep, greater negative pressure develops behind the uvula and soft palate. This negative pressure increases the vibration of these noise-makers” during sleep, helping to create the sound we know as snoring which can happen anytime.

We are designed to breathe through the nose. If for any reason nasal breathing is not possible our body’s self-preservation mechanism forces us to breathe through the mouth. There are several reasons as to why some people find it difficult to breathe through the nose during sleep.

  • Small size of nostrils
  • Nasal collapse
  • Nocturnal nasal congestion
  • Nasal obstruction due to anatomic abnormalities

These features increase nasal resistance and this may be a contributing factor in the occurrence of sleep disordered breathing, upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) and this can happen day or night.

A long hard day at the office after an early start can often result in us falling asleep on the way home and sometimes with embarrassing results.

To highlight an instance of this, the anti-social problem of snoring in public places was underlined last week when rail passengers in one region were given adhesive nasal strips to help prevent it. Research had asked people what was the most annoying thing that had to be endured during rail journeys and 60% said it was clearly snoring, which affects as many as 40% of us, and can reach ear-splitting decibel levels on occasions.

However the major downside of wearing these nasal strips publicly is that everyone can see them, as well as knowing why you’re wearing them, so what’s the alternative.

Nasal based snoring is a common problem but easily avoided by using a small and virtually undetectable device called a nasal dilator to keep the nasal passages open. They are regarded as more effective than nasal strips that can be easily dislodged, and of course are very noticeable. A nasal dilator is hardly seen as it fits inside the nose rather than across it.

Small or collapsing nostrils can prevent you from successfully breathing through your nose. This encourages mouth breathing, and it is the air hitting the back of the throat that causes the snoring noise. By using simple nasal dilators you can easily remedy this problem and over the years the simple to use nasal dilator has proved to be one of the most popular and easy to use devices to enhance nasal breathing. This device is not just for snorers but can be used by anybody who suffers from nasal resistance.

This small low cost device is composed of two cone shapes that have a simple connector at the base that fits neatly inside the nostrils and keeps them open. It is comfortable to use and provides a clear passage for easier breathing and better sleep, and in doing so eliminates snoring. Whether you use them at home, or ‘just in case’ during rail and plane journeys – they’ll eliminate any snoring and breathing problems.

John Redfern

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.


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