Stopping Snoring • True Stories

As specialists in helping to eliminate sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnoea we regularly hear from people about their problems and experiences and it’s rewarding to know that we have improved sleep and breathing issues for so many people over the years. We are privileged to hear personal stories that remind me of the importance of helping people get good sleep and the role sleep plays in the quality of their lives and the lives of those we love. Our sleep not only affects both our  short and long term health but also our perspective on life, our happiness and our ability to enjoy each and every day. We are often given a glimpse of the impact that improved sleep has had on their lives by eliminating or reducing serious snoring problems so I would like to share some of these stories with you.

Chef couple man and woman posing in kitchen

The first story comes from a married couple who travel a great deal in the summer providing specialist back up as chefs to hotels in the busy summer period when there are more visitors, and of course the usual flurry of weddings. Oral appliance therapy provided the ideal solution for their different, yet related, health and sleep concerns. He has successfully used an MAD for snoring and moderate obstructive sleep apnoea, and her upper airway resistance syndrome and morning headaches have been resolved by using a simpler mouthpiece. Last summer they visited 10 different hotels only to discover that they and only one other couple were able to sleep in the same room together! They hadn’t realised how widespread the effect of snoring and OSA was on couples and their intimacy, and they were grateful to have taken the simple steps to get the problem solved.

Secondly, a father and his daughter attend a family reunion together each year. Last summer his snoring had become so unbearable in the night that her only reprieve was on the other side of the hotel’s bathroom door. He awoke to find his young daughter curled up in the bottom of the cold bathtub asleep. While impressed with her resourcefulness, it broke his heart to think that she was so desperate to escape his snoring she would abandon the comfort of her bed to get any semblance of sleep that night. But it was not in vain because it finally prompted him to find a solution. It was a timely event because he realised he was suffering from mild sleep apnoea. A year later, after sleeping by using an oral appliance, he is healthier and far more energetic. During this year’s annual reunion trip, his daughter was amazed by her father’s quiet and peaceful sleep throughout the night. She got to sleep in the comfort of a real bed and enjoy her time with her father this year … and we hope this will be for many years to come!

The final story comes from a typical loving couple who simply could not sleep together anymore. Over the years, his loud snoring had driven them apart and into separate bedrooms. Understandably her partner’s snoring led to her irritability and lack of energy, which prevented them from enjoying their life together. He went ahead and acquired a custom fitted mouthpiece without telling his wife, and when it arrived, she was furious at first that he had spent the money. It seemed he was in the doghouse, but he was almost immediately redeemed after just one night. His snoring stopped and his wife had the first quiet restful sleep in years. He had given her the best gift possible – a good night’s sleep!

Stories like these are not uncommon – we hear them all the time. Yet 80 per cent of people who struggle and suffer from unresolved pain and sleep problems remain undiagnosed. That’s why patients like this need to share their stories to help other people live healthier and happier lives.

By John Redfern


Sleep apnoea is a risk factor for strokes

“Sleep apnoea is one step removed from the heart attack or stroke — it’s what the sleep apnoea does to the circulatory system and heart that causes the stroke,”

Dr. Belen Esparis, who is the Medical Director of the Mount Sinai Medical Centre for Sleep Disorders in Miami, USA, has seen many patients who have been in car accidents after falling asleep at the wheel, and others who have developed abnormal heart rhythm, and they all have one thing in common. They all suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, a common sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep, which can occur as many as 100 times per hour.

Team of doctor running in a hospital hallway with a patient in a bed

This sleeping disorder mostly affects people aged 40 and older, often who are overweight. More men than women suffer from the sleeping disorder, but it becomes more common amongst both sexes as they age.  It can however be found in younger people – and even children and teenagers.

Sleep apnoea is known to cause a range of cardiovascular, neurological and behavioural problems, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, poor memory, Diabetes Type II, lack of concentration and depression.

It is also known to be a serious risk factor for strokes.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, depriving the brain of the vital oxygen supply. A stroke may of course be caused by a narrowed or blocked artery supplying blood to the brain or by a burst blood vessel in the brain.

The interruptions in breathing that characterize sleep apnoea also lead to low oxygen levels in the blood and brain.

“Sleep apnoea triggers a series of responses in the body as a result of low oxygen levels,” Dr. Esparis said. “One of them is hypertension — an increase in blood pressure.”

Hypertension associated with sleep apnoea occurs because of the strain that low oxygen levels in the blood and brain place on the cardiovascular system. As high blood pressure is an independent risk for stroke, sleep apnoea becomes an indirect cause of stroke.

It is important to note that the effect of sleep apnoea on the circulatory system and all the bodily processes associated with low oxygen levels and hypertension will not put people at risk for stroke from one day to the next. It takes several years or even decades of all these things running in the background to make a stroke happen.

To eliminate the potential for strokes and other risks associated with low oxygen levels in the body, sleep apnoea must be treated. In extreme cases, continuous positive airway pressure machines, known as CPAP, use nose masks and a hose connected to the machine to deliver pressurized air to the lungs throughout the night.

For overweight patients who are at risk – or who suffer from less extreme forms of sleep apnoea, the medically recommended route is to use oral appliance therapy and not CPAP, which many patients dislike.

For mild to moderate cases of sleep apnoea, specially fitted mouthpieces such as the SleepPro Custom are available without prescription and these will eliminate snoring and apnoea problems immediately. They will also feel comfortable as they are custom fitted to the shape of your mouth and will allow you to sleep well. Couple this new found sleep regime with a simple programme of weight loss and the whole problem of sleep apnoea and the associated health problems will stop and is even reversible.

By John Redfern


How badly do you snore – it could be the death of you.

Daytime sleepiness has become an accepted consequence of our busy lives today. We overload our schedules, stay up too late, and even sleep with our smartphones by the bedside. We then walk around yawning and guzzling coffee to stay awake the next day. But if having a short nap now and then doesn’t relieve your daytime sleepiness, then your lifestyle may not be the culprit — it could be obstructive sleep apnoea – not to be confused with simple snoring.

Yawning coffee woman in morning

Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much when you are asleep. This lets the tissues around your throat close in and block the airway. You stop breathing for a few seconds (this pause in breathing is called apnea). Your brain has to wake you up because of this so you gasp or change positions to unblock the airway. You aren’t even aware it’s happening. These stop-breathing episodes can occur dozens of times per hour, making you feel tired the next day. Even worse, they increase your blood pressure and heart rate, putting stress on the cardiovascular system and increasing your risk for a stroke along with other serious things like Diabetes.

You probably think you’re just snoring but it’s something far more serious.

Several million people in the UK have obstructive sleep apnoea — and many millions more don’t know they have it. The occurrence of this is rising rapidly and over three quarters of cases of obstructive sleep apnoea remain undiagnosed. It’s happening because more and more of us are overweight or obese and too much fat in the neck can add to airway blockage during your sleep.

Daytime sleepiness is just one sign of obstructive sleep apnoea. Others include:

  • Loud snoring, often accompanied by gasping for breath
  • A bed partner observing pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep

Some people don’t want to deal with the problem by having the old-style treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, which often includes wearing a mask at night that uses forced air to keep your airway unblocked. This is known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). They just can’t face doing that.

However newer treatments using simple oral appliances, or mouthpieces like in sport, are now recommended. They are equally effective for those of us who are sufferers of either mild or moderate sleep apnoea – and that tends to be most of the people who have the problem. Acute sufferers still need to use CPAP, but if you start with a mouthpiece now – then you’ll probably never need to use CPAP, as sleep apnoea can not only be halted but also reversed.

If you have any of the listed symptoms or risk factors along with daytime sleepiness, it’s time to wake up to the possibility that you’re not just snoring but may have obstructive sleep apnoea. So start thinking about getting treatment for your snoring and sleep apnoea. It can make your sleep, and your health, much better. The SleepPro Custom mouthpiece is medically recommended in recent UK Hospital tests. It is an approved NHS product, and is available without fuss or prescription – specially made and fitted for your mouth to ensure maximum comfort and high effectiveness. You’d be wise to check it out.

By John Redfern


NEW RESEARCH RECOMMENDS SLEEPPRO CUSTOM MOUTHPIECE FOR SLEEP APNOEA

The SleepPro Custom mouthpiece is now medically recommended for OSA sufferers.

A new independent clinical study has just been carried out by a leading research team based at Papworth Hospital, the purpose of which was to evaluate the success of a selection of oral appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnoea. Papworth Hospital is world-renowned in its field and it leads the way as Britain’s top heart and lung specialist hospital, as well as having the largest respiratory support and sleep centre in the UK.

The research had two main objectives. These were firstly to test the clinical effectiveness of each MAD that was used, and secondly to assess the cost effectiveness of each when evaluated against a basis of no treatment.

Three main types of MAD were tested and these included less expensive types that had been self-moulded, mid-priced ones that were semi-bespoke, and also the more expensive fully bespoke versions. The research panel only comprised those sufferers with had symptoms of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea.

CPAP vs S2

Of the trialed versions, semi-bespoke types such as the SleepPro Custom were by far the most effective with regards to both cost, and clinical effectiveness and improvement. The SleepPro Custom device headed the tables in each aspect of the test.

As a result the two key recommendations for the semi-bespoke appliances such as the SleepPro Custom version, which was actually selected and used in the trial, are as follows:

  • Semi-bespoke appliances should be offered as first line treatment for mild OSA
  • Semi-bespoke appliances should be offered as an alternative   to CPAP for moderate OSA

Although some oral appliances have been used to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) for a good while in many countries, they have still continued to be prescribed much less frequently than CPAP, as previously there was little definitive proof of their efficacy – until now.  These new findings and the clear conclusions of this vital new research have now been published in the British Medical Journal, and should affect the treatment of OSA worldwide in future years.

Any mild or moderate OSA sufferer can now use the SleepPro Custom mouthpiece with the reassurance of knowing that it is recommended for its high degree of effectiveness in treating obstructive sleep apnoea, and they need no longer struggle with the many other problems they find with CPAP. The benefits for the mild to moderate OSA sufferer are immense. Efficacy and comfort for the user obviously leads the way, along with a real ease of use and true convenience, coupled with major cost advantages.

The SleepPro Custom that was used and tested in this research is a special mouthpiece made from a laboratory-grade impression of your own teeth, which means that you can expect a perfect fit. It’s thin, it’s comfortable, and the great news now is that it will not only help you to stop snoring but also combat the severe dangers of sleep apnoea.

It will be much easier to travel with this simple small mouthpiece than a cumbersome kit, either on business, or on holiday, knowing that its efficacy matches that of a CPAP mask and oxygen system. Using CPAP can be off putting to many sufferers for a number of other reasons such as the drying of the mouth and throat, and of course, claustrophobia.

If you snore heavily, or you suffer from mild to moderate OSA, then it’s really time to switch to the SleepPro Custom; something that might prove to be a true life-saving move.

SleepPro appliances are NHS approved, and the full range offers you an effective and appropriate oral appliance to suit your particular stop snoring or OSA needs, and they come at a price that you can easily afford.

By John Redfern

 


Are you overweight – massive increase in obesity reported

The number of people in the world who are obese or overweight has topped 2.1 billion, up from 875 million in 1980, the latest figures published in the Lancet show, and the figures include children as well as adults.

Researchers across the world were organised by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Washington, in a study that they said is the most comprehensive to date.  Scientists analysed data from surveys, such as from the World Health Organization, government websites, and reviewed “all articles” about the numbers of obese or overweight people in the world.

 Depositphotos_21920709_original

The study said rates of obesity were rising across the world, although the rates in developed countries remain the highest.

Not one single country is succeeding in treating it and it is a rapidly worsening problem. In the study of 188 countries, the top ten accounted for over 50% of those regarded as seriously overweight or obese. The USA, China and Russia had the highest rates and the UK was third in Western Europe – but higher if young women alone were analysed.

For several years it’s something we’ve stressed on this website and will continue to do so as the problem is so closely related to snoring. Obesity is one of the main causes of snoring because tissue in the throat relaxes and the resultant vibration when air is forced through produces the sound we all know well – loud snoring. This restricts the vital supply of oxygen to the body.

Health risks posed by snoring have a significant impact on an individual’s overall health and life expectancy, according to medical experts. Snoring can also result from sleep apnoea and is linked to a variety of other health disorders. When considering the health risks associated with snoring, bear in mind that individuals whose snoring is caused by severe sleep apnoea have a 40 per cent higher risk of early death than non-snorers. If an individual has been diagnosed with sleep apnoea or is aware of an issue with snoring, there are numerous conditions linked to snoring and sleep apnoea that affected individuals and their family should know be aware of.

Health data suggests the louder and longer a person snores each night, the greater their long-term risk for a stroke. This correlation has been proven especially true in cases where patients experience daytime sleepiness or if their breathing stops during sleep, both of which are signs of sleep apnoea.

Other health concerns, such as high blood pressure, diabetes type 2, coronary artery disease, and other cardiovascular problems, have also been linked to sleep apnoea.

Prof John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England, said poor nutrition and lack of exercise were a big risk factor in Britain’s most deprived areas and PHE ran campaigns to help families be healthy, more active, and cut down on fat and sugar, he said.

He added: “Obesity is a complex issue that requires action at national, local, family and individual level; everyone has a role to play in improving the health and well-being of the public, and children in particular.”

Action should focus both on losing weight, fitness, and cutting out snoring, in order to produce a healthier nation and also to remove the current heavy financial burden from the NHS.

John Redfern


Two new studies underline the health risks of snoring

Whatever your age, or your current state of health, the warning that is given to you loud and clear by heavy snoring cannot and should not be overlooked.

Check-up time

Check-up time during pregnancy – and later in life for diabetes

Half of pregnant women who have hypertension and snore have OSA
New research shows that1 in 2 hypertensive pregnant women who habitually snore may have unrecognized obstructive sleep apnoea, a sleeping disorder that can reduce blood oxygen levels during the night and that has been linked to serious health conditions.

Habitual snoring, which is where snoring happens three or more nights a week, is the hallmark symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which has been shown to increase in frequency during pregnancy. And affect up to one-third of women by the third trimester

In addition, one in four hypertensive pregnant women who don’t snore also unknowingly suffer from the same sleeping disorder, according to the study that appears in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

“Our findings show that a substantial proportion of hypertensive pregnant women have obstructive sleep apnea and that habitual snoring may be one of the most telling signs to identify this risk early in order to improve health outcomes. Prompt recognition, evaluation, and management can only improve health benefits for both mothers and babies.”
Sleep apnoea linked to diabetes in largest ever study
This was a long-term study of over 8,000 adults from 1994 right up to 2111 and the findings were published online ahead of publication in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Patients with OSA were tracked for diabetes throughout this period and the results were conclusive. Previous studies have been on a smaller scale and also for shorter periods so this new study now leaves no doubt of the OSA-Diabetes relationship.

Patients were classified into groups of differing OSA severity according to how many pauses in breathing, or apnoeas, they suffered per hour of their sleep:

________________________________________________________________________________

5 or less          Non-sufferers of OSA                     Control Group

5 to 15           Mild sufferers of OSA                     Risk of diabetes 23% higher

15-30              Moderate sufferers of OSA          Risk of diabetes 23% higher

30 plus           Severe sufferers of OSA                Risk of diabetes 30% higher
________________________________________________________________________________

The main results showed almost 12% of all patients who snored heavily and most likely had OSA developed diabetes. Those sufferers who fell into the Mild or Moderate Groups had a 23% higher risk of developing diabetes than Non-sufferers, whilst those in the Severe group had a risk that was as much as 30% higher.

The following statement was made to sum up the findings:

“After adjusting for other potential causes, we were able to demonstrate a significant association between OSA severity and the risk of developing diabetes, Our findings that prolonged oxygen desaturation, shorter sleep time and higher heart rate were associated with diabetes are consistent with the mechanisms thought to underlie the relationship between OSA and diabetes.”

“These findings may allow for early preventative interventions in these patients.”

If you snore heavily, and gasp for breath, with the consequence of disturbed sleep, you should take immediate steps to correct your breathing pattern, and this will prove highly beneficial to your future health. The solution may be as simple as wearing a simple oral appliance.

John Redfern


Hearing loss linked to snoring and sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea and heavy snoring is independently associated with a 31 per cent increase in high frequency hearing impairment.

Sleep apnoea is positively linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, amongst numerous other serious health problems, but a large U.S. study has now found that the sleeping disorder is also linked to hearing loss.

Listening

Sleep apnoea is the temporary cessation of breathing during sleep, which in some cases is due to obstruction of the upper airway by enlarged tonsils causing loud snoring and fighting for their breath.

The study investigated data gathered from almost 14,000 U.S. participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study. About 53 per cent of respondents were women and on average the subjects were 41 years old. All of them dad completed detailed in-home sleep studies and audiometric (hearing) testing. About 10 per cent of the study volunteers had sleep apnoea and 30 per cent had some form of hearing impairment, according to the study.

People in the study were more likely to have hearing impairment if they were of Cuban and Puerto Rican backgrounds, had a higher body mass index or BMI (an indication of being overweight), were people who snored, or had been diagnosed as having sleep apnoea.

The study authors found that sleep apnoea was associated with a 31 per cent increase in high frequency hearing impairment and a 90 per cent increase in low frequency hearing impairment. Sleep apnoea was also linked to a 38 per cent increase in both high and low frequency hearing loss. Speech tends to fall in the low frequency range so the results are both serious and widespread amongst snorers and apnoea sufferers.

The findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego, California last week and further studies into the wider community are now being planned.

Habitual, loud snoring is a key symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea, (OSA), a disease that affects 12-18 million Americans and is known to increase the risk of many health problems including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction and depression. The actual number of sufferers is definitely much higher and may be 70-80 million, as most cases of OSA are known to be untreated and undiagnosed – in fact, the key indicator of the problem, heavy snoring, is foolishly ignored.

Only one thing can be concluded from the study the lead Researcher said: “There is the potential that treating sleep apnoea may improve hearing loss.” and she went on to say that people with sleep apnoea should be screened for hearing impairment since it is shown to be associated with the disorder.

For many sleep apnoea sufferers relief lies in an effective treatment called oral appliance therapy which uses a “mouth-guard” like device worn only during sleep to hold your jaw forward and open your airway. Pioneered by dentists, oral appliance therapy began its surge into sleep apnoea treatment plans in the early 1990s.

Now, more than 20 years later, a growing mass of research is proving that oral appliances are a highly effective alternative to the inconvenience and difficulties of using CPAP, (a mask based oxygen supply), and that patients are more likely to use oral appliances, even seven days a week, to get a good night’s rest, improve their health, and even prolong their lives.

So if you’ve got hearing problems, and you snore, do something about it.

John Redfern


Britain needs to wake up to its sleep problem

Over the last week or two there’s been a great deal of attention from the nation’s media on the problem of disturbed sleep – even the lack of sleep altogether.

Scientists from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Manchester and Surrey universities warn collectively that today’s society has become ‘arrogant’ and ignores the fact that cutting sleep leads to health problems. They go on to say jointly that people, and governments, need to take the problem seriously. Cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, infections and obesity amongst many other things have all been linked to reduced sleep caused by a number of key factors – snoring being one of them.

Our body clock drives huge changes in the human body. It alters alertness, mood, physical strength and even the risk of stroke and heart attack in its daily rhythm. It stems from our 4 billion year evolutionary past when we were active in the day and then resting at night.

Young boy in bedroom using laptop and listening to MP3 player

Deposit Photos – The Digital Bedroom

Scientists warn that modern life and 24-hour society mean many people are now “living against” their body clocks with damaging consequences for their health and well-being. They have concluded that we’re getting between one and two hours less sleep a night than 60 years ago and are not trying to put this right.

This is an acute problem in teenagers and they had found some who sleep by popping their parent’s sleeping tablets in the evening and then downing three Red Bulls the following morning. The evidence suggests modern technology is now keeping all us up later into the night and cutting our sleep – not just our children and teenagers.

The ‘Blue Light’ problem

Prof Charles Czeisler, from Harvard University, said energy efficient light bulbs, as well as smartphones, tablets and computers had high levels of light in the blue end of the spectrum which is “right in the sweet spot” for disrupting the body clock.

In addition, opticians say people are so addicted to smartphones they may be increasing their risk of eye damage. They are warning that overuse of phones and other devices like computers, tablets, and flat screen TVs can lead to long-term damage.

6th Form students to start classes in the afternoon.

Some results are extraordinary, and in one case, Sixth Formers at a private school in Surrey are to begin their lessons in the afternoons to allow them to sleep later in the mornings. The pioneering decision will mean that A-level classes will finish at 19:00. Teenagers have a biological disposition “to going to bed late and struggling to get up early”, the school said.

Our 24-hour society now mean that many people are now “living against” their body clocks with damaging consequences for their health and wellbeing. One of the main causes of sleep loss, or poor quality sleep, is snoring – a problem that may be caused by numerous things; being overweight, lack of exercise, natural ageing, smoking, excess alcohol in the evenings, and numerous other lifestyle factors. Shift work can increase the problem along with poor sleep regimes as we’re finding amongst many social groups today.

It’s easily put right. The solution is in your hands, or in this case your mouth, when you acquire an oral appliance to wear at night. It’s a simple mouthpiece like a sports guard that will ensure healthy, restful and more satisfying sleep.

By John Redfern

Image: Depositphotos_4768703_original


Does snoring ruin your sex life?

According to the results of a recent poll published in a leading UK Newspaper the answer is definitely ‘YES’ – and the results of the poll were devastatingly clear.

Which sums up your Relationship (1)

Which of the above photos do you think best sums up your relationship?

• More than 20% of both sexes claimed that snoring put them off being intimate with their partner
• Almost 30% of men said it had taken the spark out of their sex lives, and nearly 50% were embarrassed by their snoring
• Nearly 40% of couples admitted that it had pushed them into separate bedrooms and had even led to break ups and divorce in some cases
• Nearly half of women claimed that snoring had an extremely negative effect on their relationship overall, not just in bed, due to fatigue and irritability
• In the older age groups, from 45-54, the results were even more positive, and they stated that snoring had totally ruined their sex life, and 1 in 5 even claimed that it had caused a total relationship breakdown

It has been long known that in addition to these things that snoring contributes to erectile dysfunction and decreased libido, and this adds to the problem in a big way.

There’s nothing like a disturbed night’s sleep caused by a snoring partner to inject lots of friction into a relationship and this recent survey certainly proved it, according to the experts in sleep research, and relationships, who carried it out. Disturbed sleep was found to be seriously detrimental to relationships, and even just one poor night had an impact.

During the period of the study the people who slept the worse, on average, found that they were much more likely to argue with their partners on the next day. In interviews, the sources of the conflict were evaluated and irritability and fatigue were the key triggers. Heavy snoring had often forced them to sleep apart and move into separate bedrooms – for ‘survival’ reasons. Worryingly though, 70% of men and 66% of women found that this made them ‘emotionally distant’ from their partner.

One respondent said “My husband has had to sleep in a separate bedroom due to his snoring for years now. Sadly his snoring has taken the romance out of our relationship. We go to bed separately and get ready in separate rooms in the morning.”

The survey was also covered in leading US Newspapers, including The New York Times, who stated: “Instead of spontaneous interaction, couples have to make a planned effort to meet up. Over time, the loss of sexual activity can lead to a lack of intimacy and bonding”.

Spending time in bed together is crucial for couples because it is devoid of the distractions of work, children and obligations. In addition to sex, couples cuddle, touch, and chat, all of which are an important part of the bonding process that holds relationships together.

They recommend that to avoid the early untimely demise of your sex life, the guilty partner should get some form of treatment for the underlying problem – snoring. Doing so will not just improve your relationship, but also address the problem of sleep apnoea, which affects many snorers and is a rising problem due to our lifestyles.

The good news is that both snoring and sleep apnoea are very treatable. In most cases, snoring, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido and other health issues that may be preventing sex can be easily treated and reversed.

By John Redfern

 

 


How Women sleep differently to Men – and why it matters

It has been known for a long time that women take longer to fall asleep and new research from the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) has verified it. As well as being slower to get to sleep, they feel ‘sleepiness’ more than men and have an increased risk of insomnia. On the other hand, when asleep, they spend much longer in deep sleep.

Insomnia

Much of the understanding of why sex differences in sleep exist and also how these differences may affect treatment lag far behind any other areas of knowledge with regards to sleep and sleep disorders. Much of what we have in medical literature focuses only on snoring and sleep apnoea, long regarded solely as a male problem – but certainly not true.

Hoping to correct this lack of information, some of the leading names in women’s sleep research were brought together by SWHR to gather information on the the matter, including sleep experts from both Harvard and Stanford Universities. They found that hormonal shift seems to play a big role; and these times for a woman are when she appears most vulnerable to insomnia, both monthly, and also around the menopause. Restless legs syndrome is also much more common in pregnant women than in men, children, or women who have not had children, but the exact hormonal connection however is yet to be established.

Women are bringing sleep-related concerns to their doctors, but the statistics aren’t pointing to the real problems that exist. Sleep apnoea is a prime example of this.

Men with the condition are likely to report snoring, snorting, or waking up and gasping for breath. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to report fatigue, depression and un-refreshing sleep.

All this underlines that much more detailed research is required into women’s sleep disorders as well as the current work that mostly deals with men. Sleep apnoea of course is far from exclusive to men, and the number of women sufferers is growing – but is this through an increase in the number of sufferers or improved diagnosis?

Further to this in the UK, Sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley of the University of Surrey told the British Science Festival how bed-sharing causes rows over snoring and duvet hogging, and this often robs women of precious sleep. One study found that, on average, couples suffered 50% more sleep disturbances if they shared a bed.

Dr Stanley points out that historically we were never meant to share our beds. He said the modern tradition of the marital bed only began with the industrial revolution, when people moving to overcrowded towns and cities found themselves short of living space. Before the Victorian era it was not uncommon for married couples to sleep apart, and in ancient Rome, the marital bed was a place for sexual congress but not for sleeping.

He said poor sleep was linked to depression, heart disease, strokes, lung disorders, traffic and industrial accidents, and divorce, yet sleep was largely ignored as an aspect of health.  Dr Robert Meadows, a sociologist at the University of Surrey, said: “People actually feel that they sleep better when they are with a partner but the evidence suggests otherwise.”

In his study he found that when couples share a bed and one of them moves in his or her sleep, there is a 50% chance that their slumbering partner, more often the woman, will be disturbed as a result. Despite this, couples are reluctant to sleep apart, with only 8% of those in their 40s and 50s sleeping in separate rooms, the British Science Festival heard.

By John Redfern