Although it has long been known that insomnia, parasomnia and sleep apnoea are associated with many other serious ailments, little research has associated these sleep conditions with the risk of cancer.
However an extensive new study where researchers have explored the relationship between sleep problems and the risk of cancer changes that.
Two million patient records were analysed in order to determine their risk for sleep conditions and were then divided into insomnia, parasomnia and sleep apnoea groups. The selected patients did not have cancer prior to the study and were grouped based on the same age, gender and year.
The link between insomnia and cancer
Insomnia is a condition that impairs a person’s ability to fall or stay asleep and has been linked with higher incidences of breast cancer and colorectal adenomas, a precursor to colon cancer. Sleep disturbances have also been associated with lung cancer and psychological distress, revealing that sleep disorders are associated with a higher risk of cancer.
Parasomnia is a group of sleep disorders that includes things such as REM disorder, sleep walking, sleep terrors, sleep talking and nightmares.
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common and serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. The airway repeatedly becomes blocked, limiting the amount of air that reaches your lungs, causing you to snore loudly or make choking noises as you try to breathe. Your brain and body becomes oxygen deprived and you may wake up. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.
For the study researchers selected two million individuals from Health Insurance Records but participants were excluded from the study if they had a case of cancer or a sleep disorder prior to 1999.
The research uncovered a significant increase in breast cancer in those with insomnia, parasomnia and sleep apnoea. Nasal cancer and prostate cancer were also shown to be higher in those with sleep apnoea, compared to those without the sleep disorder.
The researchers concluded that there was an association between cancer and sleep disorders and stressed the importance of proper sleep and achieving good sleep quality in order to reduce the risk of cancer.
Sleep deprivation and cancer risk
Lack of sleep because of OSA continues to be linked with other negative health effects. Aside from robbing you of the necessary energy you need to get through your day, sleep deprivation has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, poor memory and diabetes.
But why does sleep deprivation lead to cancer? Well, it has been said that sleep deprivation increases inflammation in the body, which disrupts normal immune functions. When we sleep our body naturally produces melatonin. Melatonin not only helps us sleep, but has antioxidant effects to prevent cellular damage. Without proper sleep we cannot produce enough melatonin to help our cells, thus making them prone to damage.
Below are the main types of cancer associated with sleep deprivation.
- Prostate cancer – men who suffer from insomnia have been found to be at higher risk for prostate cancer.
- Colon cancer – individuals who receive less than six hours of sleep a night have been shown to develop colon cancer more so than those who get adequate sleep.
- Breast cancer – after studying those with breast cancer, researchers found those with poor sleep had breast cancer two years prior to diagnosis. Additionally, postmenopausal women who experience poor sleep are at higher risk of recurring breast cancer.
How to get a good night sleep and control OSA
- CPAP – using a pump and air cylinder that forces air into your lungs all night via a facemask – used mostly by chronic sufferers
- Oral Appliance Therapy – a mouthpiece, similar to a sports gumshield, which is specially made to fit you. It is comfortable, effective, and by far the most widely recommended medically. Used by mild to moderate sufferers and stops snoring immediately.
Lots of people who think they are getting enough sleep, may actually have sleep apnoea, and some adults have the classic signs of loud snoring and broken sleep for years without knowing their airways have been obstructed.
In the past decade there has been a big jump in the number of people being diagnosed with night-time respiratory problems and sleeping disorders, but It is estimated that Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) affects about 5 per cent of adults in the UK, with the condition being more common in males.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, or OSA, is characterized by seriously disrupted breathing when sleeping, which cuts off oxygen to the brain as often as 100 times per hour in the most severe cases. The consequences of the disease are becoming more and more apparent, with links to heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes.
However, patients with OSA face a huge issue: 50% of them abandon the main form of treatment within three months of starting it.
The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the first line of therapy for severe cases of OSA in patients, but it has serious downsides too. In most cases, CPAP has a mask that users wear over their mouth and nose. It has historically been a loud and invasive treatment, forcing patients into particular sleep positions. The airflow created by the bedside pump can be cold, and feel dehydrating too, and it causes claustrophobia for some.
A recent news article quoted a patient who said that his inability to use the machine wasn’t even a conscious one.
“I would just rip it off, within 5 minutes of me falling asleep,” he said.
His apnoea worsened. He suffered night terrors when his breathing became obstructed, extreme exhaustion during the day from repeated wake-ups, drowsiness while driving and his blood pressure spiked. Finally he started to use a custom-made mouthpiece to help support his jaw and to keep his airway open. He says he still wakes up two or three times per night, but for the first time in 20 years he’s waking up refreshed.
“I really started to get some really noticeable relief,” he said.
Numerous research studies have said that the current rise in obesity rates was also driving up the figures. Over the last 25 years we’ve seen a significant expansion in the waistlines of the general community, and that’s led to increased fat deposits within the upper airway and to increased incidents of sleep apnoea as a result.
Researchers stated that there certainly is a link between ageing and the propensity of the airway to collapse. Certainly all the structures within the body start to get a bit floppy as we get older, and the same occurs for the upper airways.
The realization that the CPAP machine has such a high abandonment rate has fuelled research into identifying OSA’s causes more directly and tailoring therapies for each individual patient. So for patients who’ve tried CPAP machines in the past and can’t tolerate them, it’s worth looking at the innovation in treating OSA that has evolved over the past few years.
Mouthpieces – the approved solution for those who dislike CPAP
Mouthpieces are technically called mandibular repositioning devices (MRD’s), or mandibular adjustment devices (MAD’s) because they move the jaw forward which opens the throat and keeps the airway open. A big added benefit of the mouthpiece is ease of use for travel, unlike CPAP.
There is a wide range of medically approved oral appliances available from companies such as SleepPro, who are Britain’s leading provider of snoring solutions. SleepPro products are accredited by the British National Health service (NHS) and have been exhaustively tested in UK Hospitals where they are supplied to patients for both snoring and OSA.
SleepPro offers a choice of several starter appliances, including the market leading Starter appliance, Easifit, which after being immersed in hot water will shape to your mouth for an excellent and comfortable fit – a system they term ‘Boil’n’Bite’ that has revolutionised the fitting of mouthpieces. A similar appliance exists specially for women.
To this they have added micro-adjustable devices such as Contour that will improve the effectiveness and give added comfort, and additionally, they supply fully tailor-made appliances such as the SleepPro Custom.
All of these oral appliances have excellent pricing points and have money back guarantees. Those appliances that are custom moulded have very high effectiveness rates, and are much cheaper than similar appliances supplied by dentists. They are the next recommended line of therapy for patients who can’t tolerate CPAP machines.
All SleepPro products are British made in their own dental laboratories and are available for online purchase without prescription.
There are no two ways about it. Sleep is crucial for your health. It bolsters your immune system so you can fight off illness and gives your body a chance to repair and reset. The subconscious mind relaxes, and it helps to keep weight in check. Adequate sleep is linked to many benefits, including better memory, curbing inflammation, and even a happy marriage.
Since we sleep, or try to sleep, for a third of our lives, it’s going to have a significant impact on our day-to-day. In a recent survey in Britain on sleep positions, people responded to questions about their sleep habits.
Sleeping position #1: On your back
Sleeping on your back is the best position to get proper rest. It maintains the back, neck and spine in a neutral position, making it better for your body’s alignment, especially if you’re prone to back pain, stiffness or problems. The back position is also good for circulation and preventing acid reflux. When the head is elevated by the pillow your stomach sits below your oesophagus so acid or food can’t come back up.
The back-sleeper also has the advantage when it comes to wrinkle prevention, simply because nothing is pushing against your face during the night, creating those dents and creases.
The back position with both arms straight was the first choice for best sleep position for just 8% of those studied. However, the back is not best for those with a tendency to snore as the base of the tongue falls to the back wall of the throat, which causes a vibrating sound as you breathe.
Sleeping position #2: On your side
Side sleeping reduces snoring. Next to the back, sleeping in this position is good for your overall health and lets you spoon with your partner as you drift off gently. Even better, if you sleep on your left side, it helps to ease heartburn and acid reflux. Also, sleeping on your left side is the best position during pregnancy; it boosts circulation to the heart, so it’s also a boost for the baby. Pregnant women should not sleep on their back because of the extra pressure and weight this puts on the spine.
Sleeping beauties beware; side sleeping is not good for facial wrinkles, since half of your face is pushed into your pillow. It was the favourite for 26%.
Sleeping position #3: Curled into foetal position
Retreating into the foetal position, with your knees pulled up high and your chin tucked into your chest may seem like the ultimate security blanket, but it’s not so good for your health. It restricts your deep diaphragmatic breathing and puts pressure on your organs, not to mention your spine. People with an arthritic back or joints will feel more irritation, but straightening out a little can help make this position work better for you. In the foetal position, face wrinkles will be aggravated, although snoring could improve.
In the survey of sleep habits, “foetal” was the most popular among both men and women, with 41% choosing it as their favourite.
Sleeping position #4: On your stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your spine although 25% sleep this way. Twisting the neck and face sideways all night on the pillow causes aches and pains and other discomfort. It puts pressure on muscles and joints that can snowball by irritating nerves, resulting in numbness and tingling.
Facedown keeps your upper airways more open. So if you snore and aren’t suffering from neck or back pain, it’s fine to try sleeping in this position.
Sleeping solo for relationship harmony
It’s widely accepted that sleeping in separate beds can be great for a relationship because both partners experience a better night’s rest and won’t be disturbed by frequent movement, noise, or pulling of the bedding.
Sleep researchers say that 30 to 40% of couples sleep in separate beds, although they may not broadcast it to their friends. Studies show that people tend to be more short-tempered with their spouse, taking out their sleep-deprived frustration on their nearest and dearest. They’re more tired, more selfish, and less able to put in the work to make a relationship go well.
Sleep is important, and it leads to better health and marriage harmony.
A recent study that polled over 2,000 people found that most people sleep for about 6-7 hours, but this is still far below the recommended quota of eight hours per night. As a result, one in six people polled admitted to feeling tired for more than three hours a day making them less productive at work – and much of this was due to disturbed sleep due to snoring, for which there are recommended medical solutions, including the Chin Strap.
A snoring chin support strap works on a very simple proposition. The fabric device fits comfortably around the wearer’s face and head to cup the chin with straps running up to the top of the head. Doing so keeps the lower jaw positioned comfortably forward where it won’t constrict the airway.
The result is that the chin support strap should provide not only an end to snoring, but also it should increase the deep undisturbed rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep that the body needs most.
It’s a very simply constructed item that is simple to use, easy to keep clean with washing by hand or by machine, and because it’s very compact, it makes it possible to store it away and also to take it on your business or holiday travels. The price of a chin support strap makes it possible and sensible to own more than one, something that most people do.
Whether a chin strap for snoring the sleeper’s condition depends almost entirely on what causes the problem. Some devices have been proven effective in helping both nasal and mouth-snorers sleep more soundly by maintaining open airways that provide the body with ample oxygen. As is obvious by its design, a snoring chin strap is specifically built to aid mouth-snorers. If your lower jaw isn’t the culprit, a chin strap won’t be much help.
While you sleep, a stop snoring chin strap manages to control what you can’t. Among back-sleepers in particular, the lower jaw relaxes back and causes the relaxed soft palate tissue to allow the tongue to fall back into the throat. By keeping your mouth closed and the jaw in a natural forward position, the tongue stays put even as muscles relax.
Anti-snoring chin straps are incredibly easy to use and can be simple, effective remedies to night after night of disturbed sleep. However, there ais one particular instance in which a chin strap should not be used. Make sure that your snoring does not have the additional dangerous symptoms that come with obstructive sleep apnoea.
- Chin straps for snoring can also be dangerous to snorers with severe nasal congestion by limiting oxygen intake through the mouth.
- Many users complain of an especially tight fit resulting in headaches – so make sure that the one you buy is adjustable.
- Devices sometimes don’t stay in place all night long, despite them stretching across the face and head. Restless sleepers may see disappointing results if it can’t be kept in position all night long.
If you snore heavily you need to consider the possibility that your snoring may be a symptom of sleep apnea. This condition causes repeated nightly breathing interruptions due to the lower jaw and/or tongue repeatedly blocking the airway causing breathing to briefly cease. This condition, unless treated properly, can lead to serious health conditions including stroke. heart attack, and diabetes amongst many other things. It’s not difficult to understand that if you cut off the oxygen supply to the brain then health problems of this type are sure to develop.
Bespoke mouthpieces such as SleepPro Custom are available for mild to moderate sufferers, and these control and prevent the problem, but chronic sufferers will need to use some specialist overnight breathing equipment called CPAP where they will use a facemask to force the airflow and to keep it open.
If you do decide to use a chin strap as your stop snoring option, and find that it works for you, make sure that you always choose a product with a broader sling-like support for the chin, as the wider straps tend to hold it reliably in position even in the midst of tossing and turning. You should also ensure that it adjusts easily – not only for efficiency but also for your comfort.
After that it’s simple. Sleep Well.
The night-time breathing disturbance which is known as sleep apnoea can significantly boost a woman’s risk for heart problems, and even result in their death, but there was no similarly boosted effect for men, a new study finds.
The study wasn’t designed to prove cause and effect. However, it was found that women with moderate to severe sleep apnoea had more than a 30% higher risk of heart problems than women without sleep apnoea. The study found no significant link between sleep apnoea and any kind of heart problems in men although other studies have done.
The researchers also found that, compared to women without sleep apnoea, women with this dangerous disorder had higher blood levels of troponin, a chemical signal of early heart damage.
The findings suggest that older women may be at greater risk for sleep apnoea-related heart disease than men, and all the experts have agreed that the findings are a wake-up call to spot and treat sleep apnoea in women as early as possible.
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder characterized by heavy snoring, airway blockage during sleep and daytime sleepiness, but today it can be easily treated without prolonged medical check ups, by simply using medically approved oral appliances. These are available from specialist companies that will supply you direct with no prescription needed.
While sleep apnoea is often thought of as a disease most common in men, these results highlight the importance of recognizing sleep apnoea symptoms in women, particularly in those who are post-menopause, in whom the incidence of sleep apnoea increases,” he said.
Medical experts advise that women who report symptoms of sleep apnoea that include snoring, gasping at night, bed partner’s observation of ‘stopping breathing,’ morning headaches, non-refreshing sleep or daytime sleepiness should immediately take steps to control and prevent this. They can do this by making use of an oral appliance or mouthpiece to wear at night – and preferably one that is medically approved and custom fits so is specially designed for the task.
Being overweight will increase the likelihood of sleep apnoea occurring, so some accompanying weight loss, and an avoidance of alcohol in the evening will assist greatly.
If sleep apnoea is allowed to develop, extremely serious cases may require CPAP treatment, using an overnight supply of oxygen through a facemask.
The link between sleep disordered breathing and stroke only came to light in the 1990s. Sleep apnoea is commonly found in individuals after experiencing a stroke. Between 1996 and 2010 over 20 different studies showed a clear association between stroke and SDB.
More recent findings uncovered that obstructive sleep apnoea is found within 50% of stroke sufferers. Furthermore, having obstructive sleep apnoea will definitely increase the risk of stroke, dependent on other associated factors, including smoking, obesity and diabetes.
Dr. Sean Pinney is the Director of Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. He believes that these new findings should “help us more fully understand the mechanisms underlying heart failure.” The fact that women’s hearts seem more affected by sleep apnoea is “very compelling,” Pinney added.
The study was published this month in the journal Circulation. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute supported the research, along with a further grant from the American Heart Association.
A newly published research study that has concluded that Seniors with night-time breathing issues like snoring or sleep apnoea often have high blood sugar, and they may be almost twice as likely as sound sleepers to develop type 2 diabetes.
This extensive and highly accurate study produced findings from some 6,000 U.S. adults who were followed for up to 10 years. The highly conclusive results suggest that doctors may now want to monitor blood sugar in older patients with sleep-disordered breathing much more closely, according to the lead researchers involved at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston.
“Recent evidence suggests that diabetes patients have a higher prevalence of sleep disturbances than the general population,” lead author Linn Beate Strand stated. “However, less is known about whether symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later, especially in older adults,”
Sleep apnoea involves frequent episodes during sleep when the airway closes and people stop breathing entirely. Often breathing resumes abruptly with a loud snort or choking sound, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. These repeated breathing interruptions, which can occur up to 30 times per hour, have been linked to daytime sleepiness and increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, diabetes and incidences of sudden death.
Awareness of sleep apnoea all countries is at an all-time peak. Awareness is being raised regularly by both the public media and by social media. Potential sufferers, understandably, are becoming increasingly more concerned about the blockage of oxygen to the brain and other organs, and many more people are recognizing that they have the symptoms and are raising the subject with Sleep Centres or their doctors.
Many more have taken the highly sensible first step of equipping themselves with an oral appliance to treat the problem, as recommended by the NHS, who approve certain tested appliances and issue them to more severely affected patients. The mouthpiece is similar to a typical sports gum shield and is worn at night when sleeping. It usually has an immediate effect and snoring stops overnight in most cases and in the case of sleep apnoea, the more advanced bespoke versions will prevent the main danger involved, which is the regular deprivation of oxygen to the brain.
More and more people are suffering from the dangers caused by both snoring and sleep apnoea, and this is primarily because of lifestyle issues, but mostly due to excessive weight as this will narrow the throat as well as causing the muscles to weaken.
Most previous studies on sleep disorders and diabetes have focused on young or middle-aged adults, the researchers point out in the journal Diabetes Care, but, it is now apparent that sleep apnoea and snoring become more common with age, and needs earlier treatment.
The research found that people with sleep apnoea were nearly twice as likely as normal sleepers to develop diabetes, and that snorers were 27 per cent more likely. Those with daytime sleepiness were also about 50 per cent more likely than those without that symptom to develop diabetes. The more disturbed-breathing symptoms people had during their sleep, the greater was their risk of diabetes.
The findings suggest that improving sleep quality in adults may reduce their risk of developing diabetes or may even reduce the severity of diabetes in those who are already affected.
Getting good sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise to remain healthy during the aging process. However, previously, although any serious sleep disturbance such as snoring has been recognised to cause problems for nearly all aspects of health, it is often ignored when treating diabetes.
If you snore or have symptoms of sleep apnoea it’s important to take preventative measures now because if ignored, it may prove to be too late.
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How do you tell your better half that he or she has a problem with snoring without hurting their feelings? A snoring partner is a very delicate subject – but it’s vital that the conversation takes place. Snoring is not a joke.
It is a sensitive conversation, but you shouldn’t avoid bringing it up. After all, your partner’s snoring problem heavily affects your life too:
- It disrupts your sleep pattern, which is devastating to your lifestyle.
- It makes you tired, impairing your lifestyle or productivity at work.
- You might experience irritability, loss of temper and frustration.
- During the day your body might demand the rest that it was really supposed to get during the night so that, while you should be going about your daily responsibilities, you can only think of taking a nap.
Perhaps you doze off at work or, more dangerously, feel like falling asleep while driving? Leading world motoring organisations state that sleepy drivers cause a very high percentage of the most serious road accidents – a figure they put at almost a quarter. Many serious injuries and deaths result from this and they name snoring and sleep apnoea as the direct cause of it.
All of the above reasons are extremely important for you to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. However, keep in mind that next to your suffering, snoring can be dangerous for the snorer too, as the condition has recently been linked to diabetes, heart disease, dementia and even cancer.
For these reasons, if not for others, you should have the important “Snoring conversation” with your partner as soon as possible. While at it, consider the situation your snorer is in, why he or she is not seeking help and how they feel about their health and lifestyle.
Leading experts say that if your snorer has been ignoring the problem for a long time, confronting the issue might stir up an array of emotions that can progress in stages or may even be experienced at the same time:
Denial is the most common first reaction after hearing about the problem. Snoring comes with a certain kind of stigma and most snorers can’t believe that they snore, especially because they are not the ones to hear it at night. If your partner is in denial, the best thing to do is to record their snoring. You can do it in various ways but a cellphone is easiest, and numerous free online apps exist. Confronted with tangible evidence, most snorers accept that they have a problem and try to find a solution.
As mentioned earlier, snoring comes with a social stigma and because of this it might be humiliating for people to think of themselves as snorers. Be patient and understanding to your partner, assure him or her that you realise they can’t help it. Confirm your strong feelings towards them. It will be good for them to know that their snoring does not affect the relationship that you share. Do your best to be supportive, sensitive and respect your partner’s feelings, and since snoring affects the lives of both of you, work closely together to find the solution.
Snoring is no longer a difficult condition to cure and people often do not realise that a visit to a doctor is not needed, as a simple mouthpiece, worn during sleep, can solve the problem completely – and immediately. All the major health authorities throughout the world now recommend the use of approved oral appliances to prevent snoring and even treat sleep apnoea.
It is estimated that snoring, or sleep disordered breathing affects as many as 40% of adults, and they and their partners suffer from regularly disturbed sleep and loss of valuable rest. The problem is not confined to men alone, although many more men than women snore. However, the role of the woman is important, as not only is she likely to take steps towards preventing her own snoring faster than a man, she is the one most likely to encourage her partner to take the appropriate action to help them protect their health.
A wide choice of oral appliances now exists; from simple, inexpensive starter appliances that come straight out of the box, that are ideal for lighter snorers, to medically approved custom-made mouthpieces that prevent the dangers of sleep apnoea, and may even replace the use of CPAP or other mask-assisted breathing systems for mild to moderate sufferers.
It’s important to take those first steps and have that all-important “Snoring’ Conversation” as it will safeguard your health, and of your partner, improve or even save your relationship, and it may even save their life. Remember that the obvious and easy choice of sleeping in separate rooms is an option – but it is certainly not a solution.