Holidays, hot weather, global warming and sleepless nights

The key to feeling well rested is not just the amount of sleep you get, but the quality of it, and if you or your partner snore that doesn’t make for a great night’s rest. Add to that the ever-increasing amount of hot or humid weather, and problems for those who travel away and sleep in a different bedroom environment, and it’s tougher still. It can even lead to heat exhaustion on occasions. Holidays are a particularly stressful time and levels of snoring increase accordingly at this time.

Sleepless nights no more with SleepPro

Obviously it’s a big help if you are using an oral appliance regularly to help you to stop snoring, but lack of sleep can lead to heat exhaustion and this is very dangerous. Signs of heat exhaustion can include tiredness, feeling faint or dizzy, having muscle cramps or feeling sick. If left untreated, the more serious symptoms of heatstroke can develop to a serious level and include confusion, disorientation and even loss of consciousness.

Wherever you are in the world, night-time temperatures can stay as high as some summer days, and many people find it hard to get to sleep. Humidity is a big part of the problem, making it hard for sweat to evaporate. Anyone suffering signs of heat exhaustion should immediately go to a cool place with air conditioning or shade, use a cool, wet sponge or flannel and drink fluids – ideally water, fruit juice or a rehydration drink, such as a sports drink.

Recent high temperatures all over the world have led to a great deal of comment and advice on the subject all of which is worth noting for both now and the future. “As a species, we are obviously diurnal,” says Dr Malcolm von Schantz at the University of Surrey’s Sleep Centre. “We have evolved to sleep in a consolidated way during the night, when it is cooler and darker. Too cold or too hot temperatures during the night act as a natural alarm clock.

“We need to open the window to let the cooler air in, but if we are reliant on blinds, this will also let the sun in before we would prefer to wake up. Some people find sleeping with an electric fan hard to get used to, but a recent study has shown that using a fan during a hot night will decrease our time awake in bed by lowering the body temperature.

In places like the US and Australia, where powerful air conditioning units are reasonably common in houses that are located in hot and humid areas, it’s not so much of a concern. But in places like the UK where it’s hot and humid less frequently how should people ensure they get a good night’s sleep?

Weather expert Philip Eden recommends a technique common in Mediterranean countries.  “I make sure all the curtains are closed during the daytime to stop the sun coming in. I have the windows open on the shady side and closed on the sunny side. It means running round the house halfway through the day to close one side and open the other.” An hour before going to bed he opens all the windows to get a through breeze.

“The most sensible option is to use an electric fan,” recommends Mary Morrell, professor of sleep and respiratory physiology at Imperial College London. “It will help move the air around your body and increase the chance of sweat evaporating.”

There’s more to it than temperature and humidity, says Prof Kevin Morgan, director of the Clinical Sleep Research Unit at Loughborough University. Hot days mean we get into bed in a different physical and mental state. Often people have drunk more alcohol than usual. And when it comes to sleep, a different routine or state of mind is not good, he says. A nightcap is not recommended unless it’s something you do normally. Nor is a cold shower a good idea. It will make you feel momentarily cold and close down the pores so you’ll sweat less. If you have to shower, have a lukewarm one.”

Work-related stress causes us to lose sleep, and catching up on lost sleep is high on the agenda in the summer holidays. Poor sleep can’t be turned into good overnight, but it pays off to try, as good sleeping habits keep us going on holiday and at work.  Make sure you follow as much advice as you think you need and do everything you can to rest well and stop snoring.

If you’ve neglected your sleep all year, you can’t really expect things to suddenly change when you start your holidays. Having said that, there’s no need to get anxious because there’s always the future, and now is a good time to look in the mirror and think about possible changes.”

Take all the important steps described and make sure you’re using the right oral appliance to stop snoring. It should be one that is medically approved and from an experienced, qualified specialist, rather than just a cheap piece of plastic in mouthpiece form. In addition you may benefit from one that is custom made to your dental profile giving more comforts.

John Redfern


Keep that smile on show and don’t let Bruxism grind you down

Do you spend your nights sleeping like a lamb, or do you spend them more like the proverbial crazed rabbit gnawing away incessantly? While most of us are dreaming peacefully, about one in 10 people gnash their teeth and aggressively clench their jaw muscles during sleep.

Stop grinding your teeth with SleepPro Night Guard

This unintentional workout of the facial muscles leaves behind it a trail of pain and destruction. Teeth can end up worn down to the gum, and this can even result in abscesses around the tooth roots. There’s often a slow deterioration of the smile due to the ever-shortening teeth, with an accompanying enlargement of the masseter muscles in the cheeks, giving an overly square facial appearance.

Annoyingly for a grinder, expensive trips to the dentist can seem to be never ending, with teeth breaking, jaw joint pain and fillings coming out.

However it’s not only adults who grind their teeth; more than a third of parents report symptoms of bruxism in their children. The children who grind their teeth differ from healthy children, as they can tend to suffer more from depression and stress and tend to be more anxious than those who don’t.

Generally, 4 out of 5 people that have bruxism are unaware that have it although it is a serious condition that can lead to the deterioration of gums and teeth as well as damage joints and supporting muscles. Just because a person grinds their teeth, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have bruxism. Clenching can also be a simple habitual trait that could have no negative effects, and it is only when there is obvious wear and tear or discomfort that it’s considered self-destructive behaviour.

The effects of Bruxism can be far-reaching and affect people quite badly if left untreated, as is often the case, but it can be easily and inexpensively treated and much reduced for many.

It’s often stated that bruxism is caused by stress although the cause is really unknown – unlike the devastating results. Teeth grinding not only wears down the vital enamel, but can also result in a fracturing, loosening or even loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may even wear teeth down to stumps and that results in bridges, crowns, implants, and partial or even complete dentures being required.

Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaw and its joints, and that results in earache, headaches, and can cause or worsen jaw joint disease (temporo-mandibular joint – often referred to as TMJ disorder), and even change the appearance of your face as previously described through the major muscle changes.

One of the important aspects of good oral health is to keep teeth strong. Your smile flashes your teeth, and to be confident, you need to have strong, white teeth. Your smile is one of your best features, but unfortunately, if you fail to prevent bruxism, your best feature can become your worst asset which often means it stays hidden, and that can have a real effect on the image that you project in your personal, social and professional life.

Ask any Dentist or GP and the solution is to wear a mouth guard during sleep to protect your teeth from grinding. Although small, they give powerful protection.

Although they can be bought cheaply as pre-formed stock items, they won’t give you the long-lasting comfortable protection that you need. That can only happen with a guard that is custom made and these are made in a specialist laboratory or clinic based on an impression of your dental profile. The mouth guard is then moulded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.

They are generally made to cover your upper teeth only, but on request can be made to fit your lower set if needs be, and they usually come in a choice of thicknesses to suit you and the severity of your problem.

An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist any likelihood of tearing, be durable and easy to clean, and it should not restrict your breathing or speech in any way. Check out SleepPro Night Guard – it’s everything you need to solve the problem.

The result will be a happier you – and reflected in your smile.

John Redfern


Do you know why you snore – and what will best prevent it?

 

Do you find that your partner is often telling you that you woke him or her up with your snoring? For some people it just happens when they have a cold or a blocked nose but others will find that it happens on a regular basis.

Why do I snore?

Snoring happens for all sorts of reasons, and is closely linked to other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart attack and stroke. The good news is that you can eliminate the problem, or at least minimise it, and you will both benefit. So it’s not something that your partner needs to have to learn to deal with and as a result you’ll both get a good night’s sleep and feel rested in the mornings, and you’ll be able to do that without either of you having to sleep in separate rooms. If you live alone you may not be aware that you snore although snoring often wakes you without you realising why. Even if it your snoring doesn’t wake you up, you will still get a poor night’s sleep because your body fails to get all the oxygen it needs.

The first thing to do is understand why you snore and often there’s not just one reason. Snoring occurs when the air can’t move through the throat and nose freely during sleep. The air makes the tissues around these areas vibrate, and the ‘snoring’ sound results.  Some people are just more prone to snoring than others because of their build. For example, the passages in a man are much smaller than those in a woman and can mean men are more likely to snore because of it.

Being overweight is one of the most common reasons for snoring. When you carry excess weight in your body, it is usually everywhere and even internal. This means your nose and throat end up with fatty tissue blocking the pathway for the air. Also, if you’re on medication, or you smoke or drink, you may find that snoring is more of an issue. These three factors all lead to muscles in the body relaxing and as they do so, they are more likely to vibrate when air passes through.

Your sleep position can also have a lot to do with your snoring. When you sleep on your back, your tongue relaxes to the back of your throat, causing the airways to become blocked.

Your age will also cause an issue for snoring as when you get older; your throat becomes narrower. There’s not much you can do about aging, but you can help to prevent snoring becoming a major issue over the years. It’s all about working on your lifestyle and changing your bedtime routines to help ease the air passing through and you can also get medically approved help in the meantime or alongside these changes happening.

It may be a more serious issue if it’s something called obstructive sleep apnoea – often called OSA. Sleep apnoea and snoring sound similar but are two very different problems. OSA can be extremely dangerous, and may need medical attention. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night because of your snoring, it could be that apnoea is really the issue.

OSA occurs when the nose and throat are obstructed. The body wakes itself up time after time during the night so that you can breathe again, and you may also make choking sounds as you do so. If you do suffer from extreme fatigue during the day, it is likely that it is sleep apnoea more than snoring. The good news is you can do something about this, too.

There are three quite different medically recognised types of snorer and the solution for each of these is equally different:

  • Those who snore nasally due to weak nostrils (nasal snorer) and for this it’s important to keep the nostrils open using a nasal dilator, a small cone-like item that will keep the nasal air passages open at night.
  • Those who snore with their mouth open (mouth snorer) will benefit from using a Chin Support Strap which helps the mouth stay closed and do so in a comfortable way that brings instant results. This is the most widely used method and is medically recommended.
  • Those who snore because of weakness in the tongue and surrounding tissues (tongue snorer) have a requirement to use a mouthpiece, or oral appliance, which looks like a sports mouth guard. These mould to the shape of your dental profile and bring the jaw forward slightly which opens the airway and stops you snoring. SleepPro offer a wide choice of mouthpieces that, unlike others, are fully NHS Approved. Specialist mouthpieces are available for those with mild to moderate sleep apnoea and these are custom-fitted.

There’s no need to snore and damage your health irrevocably and permanently. For a very small price you’ll save yourself from paying a much bigger price in the longer term.

John Redfern


Snoring is making the News everywhere as a growing problem

New figures published from research undertaken in Western Australia this week made the headlines on Channel 7 News, where it was announced that 70% of Australian men, and a growing number of women, now snore. The link between snoring and heart problems was strongly underlined. The coverage recommended various lifestyle improvements but emphasised first of all that a stop snoring mouthpiece is the key item that is needed to prevent this danger – because as they rightly say – Snoring Kills if it is ignored.

Snoring and heart conditions further evidence

According to NHS statistics published in the BBC publication The Radio Times this week, a quarter of the UK population snore but it is more prevalent in those aged 40-60, and twice as many men snore than women. Snoring noise is made by the soft palate and tissue in the mouth, nose or throat vibrating, and can disrupt quality sleep for both snorers and their bedfellows.

When breathing is partially obstructed in this way, snoring is the harsh sound that is created during sleep. It is a common condition that can affect any age group and could possibly be a sign of a more serious condition that’s causing it such as sleep apnoea.

The major outward signs of a snoring problem include drowsiness, irritability and a lack of focus. You should take immediate action if snoring is accompanied by symptoms of sleep apnoea such as daytime sleepiness, morning headaches or chest pain at night.

Untreated snoring caused by sleep apnoea can lead to greater risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and liver problems, and recently, it was found that the vibrations caused by snoring damaged the carotid artery. This leads to heart attacks or stroke.

Mild snoring can be curbed with some simple habitual and lifestyle changes, although these obviously take time – particularly weight loss. There are lots of health benefits to keeping your weight in check, and combatting snoring is one of them. Excess weight around your neck can restrict your airwaves while sleeping, making you more prone to snore. However heavier snoring and sleep apnoea are very much a medical problem if left untreated.

Reuters also newly report that people who have had a procedure to open blocked heart arteries, untreated sleep-breathing problems like snoring or apnoea may raise the risk of a future heart attack or stroke, researchers say.

Patients who had artery-clearing procedures after experiencing chest pain or a heart attack were more than twice as likely to have heart failure, a heart attack or a stroke in the next five years if they also had any sleep-based breathing problems.

Intermittent low-oxygen periods during sleep may increase stress or activate inflammatory responses that damage the heart, said lead author Dr. Toru Mazaki of the department of cardiology at Kobe Central Hospital in Japan.

Sleep-disordered breathing has been associated with cardiovascular risks and symptoms like high blood pressure, elevated glucose and abnormal heart rhythms, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, who is also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and was commenting on their behalf as he was not part of the new study.

It goes without saying that patients who are not sleeping well often become depressed. No one wants to spend their nights looking at the ceiling, or tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. Patients with sleep apnoea often experience depression related to both their symptoms and the severity of their disease. Control of apnoea not only leads to improvement in physical health but can improve depression according to a new report. In a further Australian study Patients were screened for depression using the Public Health Questionnaire.

It’s important that we listen to the experts and take the right steps to preserve our health, so wearing a simple mouthpiece at night, and making a few lifestyle changes, will go a long way to making a remarkable difference to both life quality and longevity.

John Redfern


How much sleep do we need – when – and why?

 

Around a third of the population have trouble sleeping, including difficulties maintaining sleep throughout the night, particularly those who work unusual hours like shift workers. While night time awakenings are distressing for most sufferers, there is some evidence from our recent past that suggests that we had two periods of sleep each day and a period of wakefulness occurring between two separate sleep periods was the norm.

snoring and apnea

Segmented sleep is well documented across time, ranging from medical texts, to court records and diaries, and even mentioned in Charles Dickens’ book, Barnaby Rudge, which was written as late as1840.

References to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th century. This is thought to have started in the upper classes in Northern Europe and filtered down to the rest of Western society over the next 200 years and interestingly, the appearance of sleep maintenance insomnia in the literature in the late 19th century coincides with the period where these accounts of split sleep start to disappear.

Today’s society often doesn’t allow for this type of flexibility as we have to conform to today’s sleep/wake schedules, and it is generally thought that a continuous 7-9 hour unbroken sleep is probably best for feeling refreshed.

Some of the key advantages of a split sleep schedule include the flexibility it allows with work and family time, and some individuals in modern society have adopted this type of schedule as it provides two periods of increased activity, creativity and alertness across the day, rather than having a long period where tiredness builds up across the day and productivity wanes.

There are implications in this for shift workers and split sleep schedules have recently begun to emerge with some employers as a potential alternative to continuous night shift work. Some industries have introduced schedules with shorter, but more frequent shifts, so that the drive for sleep will be less with reduced time. While the challenges of night shift work cannot be fully eliminated, the advantage of some split shift schedules is that all workers get at least some opportunity to sleep at night and do not have to sustain alertness for longer than six to eight hours – much safer.

There is no tradition of an afternoon rest, like the Spanish siesta, in many countries. However some of the greatest statesmen, philosophers, writers and artists were habitual ‘nappers’ so perhaps there is a basis for it. Winston Churchill was devoted to his afternoon nap, which he called ‘that refreshment of blessed oblivion’. Henri Matisse napped after lunch, Thomas Mann for an hour before tea, and P.G. Wodehouse for an hour afterwards.

There are both mental and physical benefits to napping. A study last year published in the International Study of Behavioural Medicine, found that students who had a catnap of no longer than an hour had significantly lower blood pressure when faced with a complicated mathematical problem than those who had not slept. The study concluded that daytime napping may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health.

Another study last year, done in Germany, found that napping also helped with memory function. Participants had to learn lists of 90 single words and 120 unfamiliar word-pairs such as milk-taxi. Half were then allowed a 45–60 minute nap, while the other half watched a DVD. When it came to remembering the words, the nap group accurately remembered five times as many words and word-pairs as the DVD group. The study concluded that a short nap after a concentrated period of learning ‘plays an important role in memory consolidation’.

A NASA study of military pilots and astronauts, whose jobs are disrupted by their natural sleep cycles, worked out that the ideal length of a nap was 26 minutes and this improved performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.

On the other hand many people think they can teach themselves to need less sleep, but they are wrong, says Dr. Sigrid Veasey, a professor at the Centre

for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvaniaʼs School of Medicine. “We might feel that we are getting by fine on less sleep, but we are deluding ourselves, largely because lack of sleep skews our self-awareness. The more you deprive yourself of sleep over long periods of time, the less accurate you are of judging your own sleep perception,” she said.

In support of this, Health issues like pain, sleep apnea or autoimmune disease can increase people’s need for sleep, said Andrea Meredith, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

 

John Redfern

 


What is the real cost to you of sleep apnoea – treated or untreated?

There are several ways in which this question can be interpreted but the answer is always the same one if you’re considering the possible health repercussions, and that answer is high, but if it’s a financial question then the cost can vary incredibly.

Apnea the true cost

There are estimated to be over 100 million OSA sufferers throughout the world where data is recorded, but the real number is likely to be much, much higher than this. Because so many cases of sleep apnoea go untreated – an estimated 90% – accurate figures aren’t really known.

The most recent official figures that have been published give the figures of known OSA patients as follows. The USA has 18 million apnoea patients, Australia has just about two million, and the UK approximately three million. However in all these countries the figures are increasing rapidly and this is mostly due to increasing obesity problems. They are also an understatement of the real number as many cases simply aren’t reported and go untreated.

The figures for snoring are of course much higher, and on the increase for both sexes, creating similar heath dangers if left to develop and deteriorate.

An overnight Sleep Test in one form or another is available at a price in order to fully evaluate the severity of the condition, but the starting point for most people is their partner, who through close observation will soon notice whether or not the key symptoms exist.

As a partner’s sleep is often disturbed this is rarely a problem, but they often need to convince their partner that the problem really exists, as it’s common for them to be in denial. Tests can be paid for, mostly in a specialist Sleep Clinic, but more Home Testing equipment is now becoming available, and some in app form for your Smartphone. However it’s a good start for you to start by recording their disturbed sleep and show it to them as a first step.

OSA occurs when the tongue and other soft tissues relax or narrow for one reason or another during sleep and block the airway. The brain senses a problem and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath. This can happen hundreds of times in the night resulting in poor unprofitable sleep. The ‘choking’ awakenings are accompanied by gasping for breath, and then followed by a return to snoring, and these are clear to observe.

Scores of medical reports now clearly state that early recognition and treatment of sleep apnoea is important, as it may be associated with:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents

Historically, treatment has been the use of a pump-driven breathing device that forced air through a face mask, called CPAP, but this is now most often reserved for very severe cases only, as both the cost and the rejection rates are extremely high due to the many perceived disadvantages. New style, more expensive, oral appliances have taken its place, and these are ones that are laboratory made to fit the shape of the person’s dental profile.

They have been thoroughly tested by the UK’s leading NHS Sleep Clinic at the world-renowned Papworth Hospital and are now proposed by them in published documentation as the first recommendation for the prevention of both snoring and sleep apnoea, particularly the UK made SleepPro Custom, that clearly headed the league of all the appliances that were tested.

The cost of the SleepPro Custom was also found to be one that was equally beneficial as it was affordable to all – and this was deemed very important due to the widespread nature of OSA.

A similar Dentally recommended oral appliance in the USA could eventually cost well in excess of USD $3,000 including the sleep testing, and even new products that have recently been launched into the North American market from Australia state all-inclusive prices from USD $1.390 to USD $1,790.

The SleepPro Custom will be tailored to your own dental profile and made in a UK Dental laboratory for a price of £154.99 or USD $220. This is a very small price to pay for a medically proven solution that can not only improve your life but also extend it considerably.

John Redfern


Botox is now believed to damage your jawbone and cause tooth loss

In 2012 a review in the International Dental Journal stated botulinum toxin jabs, better known as Botox, were as effective as a mouth guard in reducing the problems of teeth clenching, grinding and the associated pain. That attitude has now reversed and it is even thought to cause tooth loss.

botox and night guard use

Evidence has recently emerged showing that Botox treatment may trigger a dramatic loss of bone density in the jaw, with parts of the jaw losing up to 40 per cent of bone volume after just one single treatment. What’s more, nobody knows when, or if, the weakened bone will fully regain its strength.

Botox jabs in the jaw are big business today. The paralysing effect is widely used to prevent tooth grinding, and also used by cosmetic doctors to slim the lower face. The treatment reduces the size of the masseter muscles, which are the large chewing muscles located on the jaw in front of the ears, and can cause dramatic cosmetic changes in a matter of weeks.

Teeth grinding, known as Bruxism, not only damages the teeth but can also cause headaches and facial pain, known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ pain).

Injecting Botox into the masseter muscles means you’re unable to bite down with the same force but the evidence is emerging that the treatment may trigger loss of bone density

One of those leading research in the field is Dr Karen Raphael, professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at New York University College of Dentistry who became concerned after reading animal studies that showed very dramatic losses in bone density after Botox for was used for these conditions – even after just one single injection of Botox. Researchers found that after only four weeks, the bone in the injected area was ‘severely decreased’. Three months later only half the lost bone had been restored.

Researchers said that in humans this significant degree of bone loss could be ‘a risk factor for fractures’. Normally, changes caused by Botox are assumed to be temporary, but even as early as 2004, doctors noticed that changes to the jaw were long lasting. Yet TMD and facial slimming patients are encouraged to repeat their treatments every 12 weeks.

So how might Botox be linked to bone loss? Our bones are constantly renewed. Old bone is dissolved while cells that are called osteoblasts are making new bone. They produce new bone in response to tugging by muscles and impact. But when masseter activity is reduced by Botox, it can’t push and pull the jaw as powerfully, reducing the amount of bone remodelling and thus bone density, explains Caroline Mills, consultant maxillofacial and facial plastic surgeon at Wexham Park Hospital, Berkshire.

‘A colleague recently saw a patient who had Botox in the masseter for ten years and has discovered her jaw joint is literally melting away.’ This loss of bone in the jaw is linked to an increased risk of loose or lost teeth.

She says the side effects of long-term Botox use in the jaw could include pain, increased risk of jaw fracture and even a need for joint replacement. She says doctors and dentists offer the treatment in good faith but may fail to warn patients of this risk because they themselves are unaware of it.

Six million people in the UK are thought to have Bruxism and should note that a mouth guard worn during sleep is a safer and more effective option to combat the problems and side effects of teeth grinding and clenching.

Allergan, the company that manufactures Botox have now said:

‘It’s important to note that Botox is not approved in the UK for the treatment of bruxism, temporomandibular muscle and joint disorder or for slimming of the lower face. While there are studies exploring the effects of muscle weakening on bone density, the clinical significance of these findings is as yet unclear.’

Allergan is conducting studies exploring the safety and efficacy of Botox when injected into the masseter muscle, the company added.

John Redfern


The fittest amongst us suffer from a variety of sleep disorders and leading sports professionals are not excluded

Many of us play active sport or focus on our fitness so perhaps we think that as a result our health is in better shape, but at the same time, getting good restful sleep can still be a major problem even for those who are professional sportsmen or women and make a career out of their skills.

sleep and sporing performance

Sleep disorders are so painfully common among the general population, but there’s one demographic that suffers significantly more than the rest of us: athletes. A new study from Finland has some good news for this group, though, because researchers now say that for the first time ever, they’ve shown just how treatable sleep disorders among athletes really are.

The survey revealed that one in four of the athletes involved in the study suffered from significant sleep problems, including having trouble falling asleep, snoring, and unbelievably, having serious issues with their breathing, such as sleep apnoea. Most of the athletes surveyed admitted to sleeping too few hours and one in six of them even used sleeping pills.

Although many of the athlete’s sleep troubles were classified as “significant” the study showed that general sleep-related guidance and personalized treatment plans greatly improved their sleep. Simple ‘Stop snoring mouthpieces’ and more customised versions can restrict or even eliminate the problem and greatly improve their performance and fitness as a result. Lack of sleep can reduce performance quality, though, and as many as one in four athletes involved in the study reported that sleep-related guidance helped to improve their athletic performance.

Aside from affecting how good someone is at sport, lack of sleep can also have serious health consequences and also lead to weight gain.

Sleep disorders among many groups of professional sportsmen and sportswomen are a widely reported problem, and researchers have suggested a variety of issues that might cause them. Intense training, rigorous schedules, and frequent traveling, sometimes across world time zones, are only some of the factors that may disrupt sleep patterns.

Professional athletes travel a great deal, often flying overnight before waking up to an early-morning practice or next-day game, and share risks for sleep problems with other high-frequency travellers and people who work non-traditional schedules. People in these jobs are at higher risk for sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea. They also can be at elevated risk for health problems associated with poor sleep, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The professional sports world appears to be continuing to turn a great deal of attention to what has previously been a much-overlooked issue: sleep.

In the USA, it’s the National Hockey League that is leading the way and that is addressing sleep problems on several fronts. Last year, teams like the New York Jets decided to hire sleep specialists to work with players on improving their sleep habits, and the sleep-friendly adjustments made to the team’s practice schedule improved their overall performance considerably.

At the same time numerous players of American football have recently headlined with major sleep apnoea problems but after watching a football game, it’s hard to believe that any of these big, tough men might be seriously ill. Injured, maybe. But sick? It seems very unlikely.

However, according to a recent study by New England Journal of Medicine, this might well be the case. Sleep apnoea affects about 4% of the general population, but when football players participated in sleep studies, the percentage rose to 14% of all players. Offensive and defensive linemen had an even higher prevalence of apnoea with 34% of them affected, probably due to their higher weight.

All sports are affected – even Sumo wrestlers in Japan – and many of them have serious problems with sleep apnoea caused by extra weight, which in that particular arena is an obvious advantage. Or is it? New investigations conducted by the Douai Hospital in Tokyo have determined that if the wrestler suffers from obstructive sleep apnoea, he lacks the concentration needed for the sport. This may be causing injuries and is also causing those wrestlers to lose more matches than is normal or to even miss tournaments.

The problem is easily solved for all these sportsmen and women – just as it is for the rest of us. If you suffer from sleep disorders or obstructive sleep apnoea you must deal with it. It’s easy and inexpensive to do so and can have a major effect on your life whether you’re a sports professional or not.

John Redfern

 


Sleep apnoea is a more dangerous condition for women than men

We now all know that sleep apnoea, which stops your breathing frequently during the night, is linked with serious health conditions, but it may be even more dangerous for women’s hearts than for men’s, according to a major new study in the journal Circulation.

snoring and apnea more dangerous for women

Obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA, is characterized by frequent stopping of breathing during sleep and often followed by choking and gasping to recover. It is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, increased mortality, and possibly earlier onset of cognitive decline and dementia.

Some of the leading experts in this field have spoken out further on this matter as they want to stress that both men and women can have this condition, and snoring is not necessarily a symptom, although it often is.

Dr. John Swartzberg of UC Berkeley said: “Don’t think sleep apnoea is just a man’s problem because men tend to snore loudly and more often. Snoring is a warning sign, but you can have sleep apnoea without snoring or very little snoring.” Swartzberg says this was a large and well-done study.

“These were women who tended to be older, their average age was 63,” he explained. “What they found was that women with sleep apnoea had high rates of complications, such as high blood pressure, heart failure, heart enlargement, and even premature death.” Recently it has been further linked with Breast Cancer and aggressive melanoma when left untreated.

The study followed more than 1,500 initially healthy people (average age 63) for 14 years and found that in women, but not in men, the condition was independently associated with a marker for heart damage in the blood called troponin T, as well as with heart failure, heart enlargement (ventricular hypertrophy), and premature death.

Snoring and Sleep apnoea is often regarded as a man’s problem, but women also have high rates, especially those who are obese. The new findings highlight the importance of screening women and getting early treatment for them as well as men.

Snoring by itself is usually a less critical matter, though it can be a source of strife between bed partners or roommates, but when associated with OSA it is a different matter altogether.

Estimates vary widely, but it’s likely that sleep apnoea affects about 10 per cent of all adults. Rates have been rising steadily over the past 20 years, largely because of the obesity epidemic. The biggest worry is that the great majority of people with sleep apnoea do not know they have it and continue without treatment whilst their health steadily worsens as a result.

OSA is certainly more common in men, especially black and Asian men, but this recent research has found it is surprisingly prevalent among women, too, especially after menopause. Being overweight greatly increases the risk, as a result of excess soft tissue in the throat. Though not everyone who snores has sleep apnoea, loud snorers are most likely to have it.

Increasing age, family history and certain anatomical abnormalities also increase the risk. In addition, heavy drinking, smoking and sedatives can promote the development and danger of OSA.

If you think that you have sleep apnoea, doing the following may help.

  • If you’re overweight, lose weight.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol, especially in the evening.
  • Avoid sedating medications.
  • Avoid heavy meals in the evening.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Try sleeping on your side, not on your back. This helps keep your tongue from falling back and obstructing the airway.
  • Elevate the head of your bed about six inches using a foam wedge.

In the meantime you can prevent the development of OSA by obtaining a custom-made mandibular advancement device made by a specialist NHS Approved company, such as SleepPro. The Custom fitted mouthpiece is easy to wear and much less expensive than any Dentist made product, and it keeps the airway open while you sleep by pulling the tongue and jaw (mandible) forward.

John Redfern


High fat diets cause weight gain and snoring – resulting in obstructive sleep apnoea and heart problems

Recent research conducted as totally separate studies in both Australia and the USA throws new light on the relationship between sleep and weight gain. Experts suggest sufficient undisturbed slumber every night is required to life a healthy life and snoring is a key factor that needs to be eliminated.

High fat diets cause weight gain and snoring – resulting in obstructive sleep apnoea and heart problems

The first report, from the University of Adelaide, tracked 1,800 Australian men aged between 35 to 80 and looked at their eating habits during a one year period. It concluded that men who consumed the highest amounts of fat were more likely to experience ‘excessive daytime sleepiness’ and that a high-fat content to a diet was strongly linked to sleep apnoea.

The data was taken from a larger study into Australian lifestyles called the Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment and Stress (MAILES) study.

Data extracted from this, with a focus on diet and sleep apnoea has found a strong correlation between higher fat content and sleep disorders.

The scope of the study included 1,800 Australian men who were aged between 35-80 years. The men were surveyed over a 12-month period and they recorded information about what they eat, when they felt sleepy and the quality and quantity of sleep they achieved each night. A high fat diet was linked to sleep apnoea and even more interestingly, the sleepiness was not linked to a person’s obesity – meaning smaller males were just as affected as larger-sized ones.

Almost half – 47% – with a high fat diet said they slept poorly at night and 42% admitted feeling lethargic and tired during the day. Meanwhile 54% suffered ‘mild-to-moderate’ sleep apnoea and 25% categorised as having ‘moderate-to-severe’ sleep apnoea. None of the men had previously been diagnosed with the condition.

The data was adjusted for the age groups and for lifestyle factors and note was also taken of any chronic diseases that the men were suffering from. With these factors accounted for, the results remained unchanged.

Comments from the participants suggested many of the men were locked into a vicious circle. Because they felt tired during the day they tended towards a high fat diet; and because they eat a high fat diet they were more likely to feel sleepy during the day. It’s long been suspected that a diet rich in carbohydrates and fat can adversely affect sleeping patterns and has significant implications for alertness and concentration, which would be of particular concern to workers.

Separate reports from the Universities of Delaware and Columbia in the USA independently supported this, and said that in a simpler study, one of them using nearly half a million individuals, that there’s a clear link between insufficient or disturbed sleep and obesity.

But getting fat is not the only problem caused by poor sleeping habits. Other research said that not getting enough sleep affects the cholesterol level. Thus there’s a link between heart diseases and lack of sleep. It has become evident that poor or lack of sleep may lead to a slowing of the metabolism and is linked to getting fat and worse – even causing obesity – and is also linked to cardiovascular diseases.

According to The European Society of Cardiology “Sleep disorders are very closely related to the presence of cardiovascular diseases. However, until now there has not been a major population based study examining the impact of sleep disorders on the development of a heart attack or stroke.”

Leading UK nutritionist and neuroscientist Victoria Wills has welcomed the news, saying it could even help save countless lives.

She said: “We’ve all experienced that feeling of eating a large, unhealthy meal and then being completely zapped of energy. Now this study shows that a long-term diet of fatty foods can have a fatiguing effect on your day-to-day life, even bringing about sleep apnoea – a common cause of night terrors – which is worrying in the extreme”.

“If you are eating too much fat then you may not be physically able to exercise properly because you haven’t been able to rest properly and your energy levels are depleted. It’s then a vicious circle. Meanwhile those who work in jobs where it’s vital that they stay alert and awake should also take note, or risk accidentally day-dreaming into a serious accident.”

You should improve your sleep initially by stopping snoring while you work on the lengthy task of reducing the fat from your diet to lower your weight.

John Redfern