Sleep Refreshes by 'Resetting' your brain cells

We all know that sleep is a necessary part of our existence but when people suggest that sleep ‘refreshes’ us, what exactly does this mean?

A new study by the team at the National Health and Development in Maryland USA suggests that during sleep neural signals travel in reverse, as the signals travel in reverse it acts as a form of ‘editing’.

These kinds of signals act as a way of refreshing the brain and a way for the brain to contemplate and store memories.

The over saturation of brain cells that occurs in times of sleep deprivation make it increasingly difficult to receive and process new information.

Sleep acts as a sort of tune-up for your brain, this is the reason that many of us are able to make better decisions after a sound night’s sleep.

From a practical perspective, just imagine the feeling you have when you work in to the early hours of the morning, your brain often feels bogged down with information, this is because your brain has been overloaded with information and needs rest to be able to process and store these memories. This is why it may feel as though information isn’t settling in, because your brain has already reached its metaphorical full capacity for the day.

The study contains a neurological explanation for the refreshing feeling we all have after a good night’s sleep. This is just one of many of the emerging studies that have appeared in recent weeks detailing the positive effects of a regular sleeping pattern, as well as the potential hazards associated with sleep deprivation.
By Richard Owen


Heavy Snoring & Sleep Apnea

There is a difference between regular, habitual snoring and sleep apnea. Not all snorers will suffer from sleep apena but it can be a symptom, particularly for the louder snorers among us.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or a low intake of oxygen during sleep. Each pause is called an ‘apnea’ which can last anywhere from 10 seconds to a couple of minutes in severe cases.

The gaps in breathing can often occur dozens of times within an hour of sleep. The most common form of apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which occurs because of a physical blockage in the throat or nasal passages. This makes snoring a common feature of sleep apnea, as the soft tissue in your throat causes a blockage that prevents oxygen passing freely.

Often the sufferer of the disorder is unaware of the disorder, so it’s often pointed out by a member of the family or sleeping partner.

So if you are heavy snorer it’s worth taking note, that this in turn could be a symptom of sleep apnea. The reason for concern is that sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous disorder causing high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and even stroke.

If you have a reputation around your house as a noisy snorer it’s worth asking others to look out for the condition if you haven’t spotted it already, look out for pauses in breath intake followed by a gagging or choking sound, often the sleeper inadvertently wakes up without knowing what has transpired.

Treating the problem

The majority of moderate sleep apnea cases can be treated with a stop snoring device, by using one of these devices you can dramatically improve your sleep quality. However in severe cases we do recommend consulting a medical professional first, one of the most highly recommended methods is the continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) which clears the patient’s airway during sleep by pushing pressurized air through the throat.

Sleep Apnea is a serious condition, that may require medical advice sooner rather than later.


Join our Partners Against Snoring group!

Are one of the many long suffering snoring partners looking to vent their frustrations?

SleepPro have set up a group for your convenience, let your feelings known if your partner is keeping you up at night (for the wrong reasons).

Let your feelings known, name and shame your partner or even post a video demonstrating just how horrible snoring can be.

We think that partners deserve a place to vent their frustration so we have set up a Google plus community for anyone looking to let their feelings known or looking to gain some of the best advice on how to stop snoring and how to improve your sleeping pattern.

PAS

All you have to do is sign up at http://bit.ly/16czGon share your information, share your thoughts and troubles, in turn we’ll share some of our most helpful tips to help cut out the snoring.
By Richard Owen


News From The Edinburgh Science Festival

NHS must wake up to ‘deadly’ sleep apnoea

Medical experts reporting today have made statements to The Scotsman and warn that the NHS is not investing enough in services to treat the many thousands that are affected by the condition.

More funding is needed to treat Scots with a serious sleep disorder which can put their lives – and the lives of others – at risk, experts say.

Sleep apnoea, which can cause people to stop breathing in their sleep and leaves them extremely tired during the day, is on the rise due to increasing levels of obesity. But experts speaking at the Edinburgh Science Festival today will warn that the NHS is not investing enough in services to treat the thousands affected by the condition.

They say it can lead to people suffering serious accidents at work or on the road due to extreme sleepiness during the day.

The event – called “The Perils of Sleep” – will discuss the science behind sleep and what can happen when things so wrong.

Speaking ahead of the debate Dr Renata Riha, from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s Department of Sleep Medicine, said obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which affects between 2 and 4 per cent of middle-aged people in Scotland, was a major issue.

The condition is caused by the muscles and soft tissue found at the back of the throat collapsing inwards during sleep, thereby narrowing or blocking the airways and stopping sufferers from breathing normally. About 80 to 90 per cent of the 2,500 people seen at the clinic in Edinburgh each year have sleep apnoea, Dr Riha said.

Sleep apnoea brings real dangers – and not just to your health

“It causes excessive daytime sleepiness. It can present a risk in terms of sleepiness while driving and at work. It can impair memory, mood and concentration and put a strain on relationships,” she said. “There are a large number of people who are undiagnosed.”

The numbers seeking treatment are rising due to increased awareness of the condition and also rising levels of obesity, which can cause sleep apnoea.

Dr Riha said the condition could endanger patients’ lives, but also the lives of others.

“The number of people I see in clinic who have had near-miss accidents where they have fallen asleep, or have actually had a crash and that is the first time they come to see me. It is really serious,” she said.

Dr Riha added: “We see and treat a lot of bus drivers, train drivers, pilots – people who are in very important positions and responsible for the public getting them from A to B.”

But despite the serious consequences and the effectiveness of treatment using special machines to keep the airway open, Dr Riha said services had been underfunded in Scotland and around the UK.

Dr Riha said the Scottish Government and health boards needed to put more money into sleep medicine. “The entire operation is underfunded and poorly understood.

“Although we have been very fortunate recently to obtain some additional funding it probably still isn’t enough,” she said.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are working with partners to ensure patients with sleep disorders are identified, assessed and appropriately referred for treatment and long-term management.”
By John Redfern


Unhealthy Britain – the NHS lags behind Europe

New research suggests the UK is lagging behind progress being made by similar countries on many indicators for ill health.

Health data over 20 years was compared with figures from 18 other countries in the research published in the Lancet. Although average life expectancy has risen by four years since 1990, it says the UK needs to increase its strategies for tackling preventable problems such as heart disease and stroke.

We are living longer but not in good health

UK Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he has a plan to address the lag. The team of experts from the UK and the University of Washington in Seattle said the UK had a high burden of smoking-related illnesses, and greater priority should be given to reducing lung disease.

There must be extra focus on Smoking, Alzheimer’s Disease and Snoring.

There was also a large rise in the number of recorded deaths related to Alzheimer’s Disease. Snoring and sleep apnoea is also overlooked as a serious contributor to poor health as we age.

Many deaths happen because the NHS is not good enough at preventing people getting sick or because the treatment given does not rival that seen elsewhere in Europe, says Mr Hunt who is responsible for health policy in England.

He says up to 30,000 lives a year could be saved if England performed as well as its European neighbours.

Mr Hunt has announced plans to cut the death toll caused by the UK’s five avoidable big killers – cancer, heart, stroke, respiratory and liver disease.

The big five avoidable killers

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Lung disease
  • Liver disease

He wants more people to go for regular health checks to spot diseases earlier and he is calling for better joining up of NHS services so that patients don’t get lost in the system.

In the 20 years from 1990 to 2010 that The Lancet study examined, average life expectancy increased by 4.2 years in the UK to 79.9 years. But the premature death rate had hardly changed in the UK for both men and women aged 20-54.

Among the leading causes were heart disease, cancers and chronic lung disease.

These are linked to avoidable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, snoring and obesity, which are still all too common in the UK, say Chris Murray, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, USA, and colleagues who carried out the analysis of global data. But progress is being made on conditions like diabetes, where the UK appears to be ahead of many of its European neighbours and other high-income countries like the US and Canada.

Prof Murray says the UK also faces fresh challenges, like its growing burden of disability from alcohol use, the rapid growth of snoring and sleep apnoea due to lifestyle, and a 137% rise in deaths linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

He and his team also acknowledged that making firm conclusions based on data from different countries was inherently problematic – not all record the same information and each has its own unique issues and policies that made interpretation and comparison difficult.

Leading UK health risk factors

  • Tobacco smoke (including second-hand smoke)
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Too little exercise
  • Alcohol use
  • Poor diet

Many of these can be identified through heavy snoring and are closely related to these factors – something that can be easily taken in hand.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested people in the UK were living in good health for longer.

But the UK still measures up poorly compared with other countries – it ranked 12 out of the 19 countries in the Lancet study.

Britons have 68.6 years of healthy life, whereas people in the top-ranked country, Spain, have 70.9 years of healthy life on average.

Public Health England, a new division of the Department of Health that will come into being in April 2013 along with the NHS organisational reforms, called the report a wake-up call.

How many healthy years will you live?

 

Rank Country HealthyYears LifeSpan
1 Spain 70.9 81.4
2 Italy 70.2 81.5
3 Australia 70.1 81.5
4 Sweden 69.6 81.4
5 Canada 69.6 80.6
6 France 69.5 80.9
7 Austria 69.1 80.6
8 Netherlands 69.1 80.6
9 Germany 69 80.2
10 Ireland 68.9 79.9
11 Greece 68.7 79.6
12 UK 68.6 79.9
13 Portugal 68.6 79.4
14 Belgium 68.5 79.5
15 Luxembourg 68.4 80.2
16 Norway 68 80.8
17 USA 67.9 78.2
18 Denmark 67.9 78.9
19 Finland 67.3 80.1

By John Redfern


Daylight Savings Time: A problem for our sleeping pattern?

With just one week left until daylight savings time many of us will lose out on an hour of sleep, many people will wake up this Sunday morning feeling unusually tired (even after Saturday night’s festivities).

Studies at the Alexius Sleep Centre insist that many of us lose out on as much as 40 minutes of sleep, this kind of fatigue can last for several days afterwards, particularly as many of us are heading in to on Monday morning.

Many of us will need to make up for this sleep debt by getting between an early night on Sunday, although the one hour time change may seem trivial, when it comes to your body clock it becomes much more significant.

Losing this hour isn’t the only problem that’s associated with Daylight Savings Time either, many of us will struggle to sleep with these longer days. Many people struggle to sleep with the sunshine streaming through the curtains early in the morning, even though many of us are looking forward to the summer it can be a difficult time for those of us who often suffer from sleep deprivation.

The fact is that no matter how cold and miserable winter is to the British public, it makes for much better sleeping conditions, research has illustrated that the perfect sleeping conditions usually consist of having a cold dark room.

A Positive Outlook:

What the summer time does mean for our sleeping pattern is that more of us have the opportunity to live a more active lifestyle, hopefully the warmer weather will allow many of us to get the appropriate amount of exercise, leading a more active lifestyle (think running, cycling etc) has a significant effect on our sleeping pattern and will make dropping off a much easier process.

Hopefully the change in temperature and the longer days will have a positive effect on our sleep cycles, rather than a negative one.
By Richard Owen


WINNING THE BATTLE OF BEDTIME – An important new TV Programme

Is your child sleep-deprived? Do they have problems getting to sleep? Does your toddler wake up often during the night? Is your teen addicted to the screen? Watch Channel 4 at 8 p.m. every Tuesday starting on 19th March for the next few weeks and find out the problems – and some of the solutions.

Professor Tanya Byron and the Bedtime Live team have the skills and experience to help get the nation’s kids and teens to bed.

Any you can contribute to the show if you are prepared to answer a few questions online. Here’s what Channel 4 say:

Are you the parent or carer of a child with sleeping problems?

We’d like to ask you some questions about the child who has the most trouble getting to sleep in your house.

The survey will take about 5 minutes to complete. We won’t ask you for personal details, but we may share overall findings from the survey anonymously on Bedtime Live.

Thanks very much for taking part and contributing to the TV show in this way.

Take the Sleep Survey

As any parents of a young child who is a problem sleeper will confirm, permanent tiredness and constant irritability can put a huge strain on your relationship. In fact, according to a survey, lack of sleep is a big factor in divorce and separation for a third of couples. Snoring causes the same problems as we all well know – either by you or your partner. Add sleepless children to the mix and it’s even more of a problem.

Ahead of a new series on the subject, a poll carried out for Channel 4 suggests the average parent surveyed got fewer than six hours of sleep a night. It also found that three in 10 couples that had split up said sleep deprivation since having their child was a factor in the breakup. Nearly 45% said they had dozed off in a place they shouldn’t have or was unsafe, with one in 20 admitting to falling asleep at the wheel of their car.

Children waking throughout the night, as well as the struggle to get children off to bed at a respectable hour, were equally important issues for parents. Nearly half of the 2,000 people questioned said getting their child to sleep at a consistent time was a nightly battle.

The key to establishing an age-appropriate bedtime was to look at what time children needed to get up and work backwards from that. If you refer to the NHS guidelines they state that youngsters aged between three and five need 11 hours of sleep, 10-year-olds need 10 hours, and 14-year-olds nine hours. Sleep needs remain just as vital for teenagers as for younger children, and scientists have been moving towards the view that they should start their day a little later than younger children to allow their brains to fully wake up. But social pressures and the lure of tablets, phones and Facebook keep many up way past their recommended bedtimes.

Tune in – it’s compulsive – and important. It may save your marriage in the same way as stopping snoring does. It’s all about a good night’s sleep.
By John Redfern


‘Sleep Apnoea is a slow killer’ say the world’s leading experts

Friday March 15th 2013 was designated as ‘World Sleep Day’ and to mark the occasion a major world conference was held recently to discuss the many serious sleep problems that exist in different societies today.

It gave the Conference a special title – Time to wake up to sleep disorders.

With increasing workload, change in food habits and timings and sedentary lifestyle, the number of people suffering from sleep disorders is on the rise. Poor sleep not only makes one tired during the day but also contributes to decreased quality of life. Leading experts, on World Sleep Day, observed on March 15, say sleep disturbances lead on to huge anxiety and memory problems among many other health issues.

The theme projected to everyone this year is ‘Good Sleep, Healthy Ageing’.

A leading expert says, “Patients may either suffer from insomnia, difficulty in falling asleep – or alternatively hypersomnia, where patients do the opposite and sleep excessively. For the past eight to 10 years, we have seen and tracked this increase in sleep disorders.”

Sleep apnoea, which is an obstruction to breathing during our sleep, is prevalent even among children, he stated. The incidence of sleep apnoea is on the rise as in some countries in the developing world, such as India, around 24 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women above 45 years of age suffer due to sleep apnoea.

Last month, at this first international conference on snoring and sleep apnoea, Dr Mohan Kameswaran, a senior ENT surgeon, said sleep apnoea was a slow killer as it strains the cardiovascular and central nervous system.

Obstructive sleep leads to uncontrolled hypertension and if the patients are not diabetic, chances are there that they might become diabetic in future and are also very prone to heart attacks”.

The problem is worldwide and growing rapidly. In a recent study, 1 in 24 adults in the US have confessed that they have dozed off while driving.

Health officials, who conducted the study, believe that the number is probably higher, as some people don’t realize it when they nod off for a second or two behind the wheel – and others just don’t admit it.

Anne Wheaton of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a study released on Thursday, found that about 4 per cent of adults said that they nodded off or they fell asleep at least once while driving – and that was just in the previous month before the interview, Fox News reported.

CDC telephone surveyed 147,000 adults and conducted the massive study in 19 US States and the District of Columbia during a two-year period.

CDC researchers found that drowsy driving was more common in men, people in the age group of 25 – 34, or amongst those who averaged less than six hours of sleep each night, and also – for some very strange and quite unexplained reason – Texans.

The US Government estimates that only about 3 per cent of fatal crashes involved drowsy drivers, but other estimates put that number as high as 33 per cent. To prevent drowsy driving, health officials recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, treating any sleeping disorders and not drinking any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Easier said than done until we realise that mild and moderate cases of this type of snoring, which are highly dangerous, are also easy and cost-efficient to treat with a simple oral mouthpiece or MAD. This is a Mandibular Adjustment Device that simply adjusts the position of the jaw during sleep and prevents it happening.

This type of Oral Appliance Technology, developed jointly by Doctors and Dentists, and approved and recommended by the NHS, is available without prescription although you should make sure to tell your GP of the problem.

SleepPro offer a range of British designed and made mouthpieces, styled and developed to overcome any degree of sleep apnoea except the most serious, where your GP will need to give you further advice and help on the type of treatment that is necessary.

By John Redfern


Treating Sleep Apnea 

Common treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) include advice on lifestyle changes, the use of an MAD and the use of breathing apparatus while you are asleep.

Lifestyle changes – Mild cases only

Mild cases of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) can usually be treated by making lifestyle changes, if they apply, such as:

  • losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  • stopping smoking
  • limiting your alcohol consumption

It is recommended that men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol a day. In addition, If you’ve had a heavy drinking session, you should avoid alcohol for the next 48 hours.

‘Regularly’ means drinking these amounts every day or most days of the week.

One unit of alcohol is equal to half a pint of normal-strength beer, a small glass of wine or a pub measure (25ml) of spirits.

Stopping smoking can also help sleep apnoea to resolve

Sleeping on your side, rather than on your back, may also help to relieve the symptoms of OSA, although it will not prevent the condition.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – Moderate to Severe cases

Moderate to severe cases of sleep apnoea may need to be treated using a type of treatment called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This involves using breathing apparatus to assist with your breathing while you are asleep. A mask is placed over your nose, which delivers a continuous supply of compressed air. The compressed air prevents the airway in your throat from closing.

Many versions of CPAP equipment cause nasal dryness, nosebleeds and a sore throat. However, some recent versions include a humidifier which helps to reduce these side effects.

CPAP is available on the NHS and it is an effective therapy for treating very severe cases of OSA. It reduces blood pressure and the risk of stroke by 40%, and lowers the risk of heart complications by 20%.

However many patients find it both difficult and uncomfortable as a course of treatment to pursue due to the many possible side effects which include:

  • Mask discomfort
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose or irritation
  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Headaches and ear pain
  • Stomach pain and flatulence (wind)

If you have any of these side effects from COAP, you must discuss them with your sleep specialist who may be able to suggest an alternative treatment.

Mandibular Advancement device (MAD) – Mild & Moderate cases

A mandibular responding splint (MRS) is sometimes referred to as a mandibular advancement device or MAD. It is a dental appliance, similar to a gum shield, and is used to treat mild sleep apnoea and although extremely successful where used It is not recommended for more severe sleep apnoea.

An MRS is worn over your teeth when you are asleep. It is designed to hold your jaw and tongue forward to increase the space at the back of your throat and reduce the narrowing of your airway that causes snoring.

‘Off-the-shelf’ MSRs are available but most experts recommend either a MAD that is adjustable such as the unique sleepPro SFA, or their full Custom mouthpiece that is quickly made to your precise requirements, and at a very affordable price compared with those made by dentists.

Not sure if you have OSA – or just snore heavily?

Check further with The British Lung Foundation and look on their website which offers a simple online checklist that will help to advise you – see how you rank on the same method recommended by the BLF for use by your GP.

Look up the BLF Test that is suggested to GPs – The Epworth Scale
By John Redfern


Snoring linked to chronic bronchitis – more so if you smoke as well.

Chronic bronchitis occurs when there is inflammation and obstruction of the air passages and symptoms include a cough that produces phlegm and shortness of breath.

People who snore a few times a week are at a greater risk of developing chronic bronchitis and the media, including The Daily Telegraph and GMTV have really covered the subject for once – instead of the whole subject of snoring being ignored – despite all the proof of its serious impact on health.

The Daily Telegraph Telegraph reported on 9th March 2013 that “people who snore five times or less have a 25 per cent higher chance of developing bronchitis.”.

In addition GMTV added that a study has found that “those who snore six or seven times per week are 68% more likely to develop the condition than those who never snore”.

The reports are based on a four-year study following over 4,000 people, to see if they developed chronic bronchitis.

Where did the story come from?

Several Universities in the Far East, plus Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, and the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine in the US, carried out this research and Ii was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal: Archives of Internal Medicine.

What kind of scientific study was this?

This was a study that looked at whether people who snored were more likely to develop bronchitis.

The researchers enrolled 5,015 people aged 40 to 69 between June 2001 and January 2003. The volunteers had a medical examination and were questioned about themselves, their health, lifestyle and their family disease history. The interview also included questions about whether they snored and how often (infrequently, once to three times a week, four to five times a week, or six to seven times a week). Those who reported that they coughed and produced phlegm on most days for three or more months of the year, or that they had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease, or asthma, were excluded from the study. This left 4,270 people for analysis.

Researchers followed these participants for up to four years, and asked them to fill in questionnaires about their health every year, to see if they developed chronic bronchitis. The researchers defined chronic bronchitis as coughing and production of phlegm on most days for three or more months of the year, for at least two successive years. Those who still met inclusion criteria after the first two years of the study were included in the second two years.

The researchers then looked at whether the proportion of people who developed chronic bronchitis differed between snorers and non-snorers. Snoring was classified as: never, five times a week or less, or almost every night (six to seven times a week). The researchers took into account factors that might affect risk of developing bronchitis, including age and smoking. They also looked at the joint effects of snoring and other risk factors for chronic bronchitis, including smoking, occupation, and body mass index (BMI).

What were the results of the study?

There were 314 new cases of chronic bronchitis during the four years of the study. People who snored six to seven nights a week were more likely to develop chronic bronchitis than people who did not snore. Although those who snored five times a week or less were at increased risk of chronic bronchitis, this increase did not reach statistical significance. People who smoked and snored were almost three times more likely to develop chronic bronchitis than people who did not smoke or snore.

What interpretations did the researchers draw from these results?

The researchers concluded that their results “support…the hypothesis that snoring influences the development of chronic bronchitis”. They suggest that more research should be done to confirm these findings and to understand in more depth exactly how it happens.

By John Redfern