Daylight Savings Time: A problem for our sleeping pattern?

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

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

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

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

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

A Positive Outlook:

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

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


WINNING THE BATTLE OF BEDTIME – An important new TV Programme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take the Sleep Survey

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Redfern


Treating Sleep Apnea 

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

Lifestyle changes – Mild cases only

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

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

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

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

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

Stopping smoking can also help sleep apnoea to resolve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mandibular Advancement device (MAD) – Mild & Moderate cases

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Where did the story come from?

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

What kind of scientific study was this?

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

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

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

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

What were the results of the study?

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

What interpretations did the researchers draw from these results?

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

By John Redfern


Have trouble drifting off? You may be at risk of heart failure

Norwegian Study reaffirms the link between sleep deprivation and cardiovascular health

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, followed more than 50 thousand people over a period of more than a decade, research showed that those who suffered from poor sleeping patterns on regular occasions were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular issues, in this case where the heart fails to pump correctly.

Sleep experts and medical professionals stress that more research is required in to the full extent of the link.

The study analysed results from subjects between the ages of 20 and 90, research indicated that those who struggled to get to sleep and those who regularly woke up prematurely were more likely to suffer from heart problems.

Participants were quizzed on whether they had trouble drifting off to sleep and whether they felt fully rested in the morning. Those who had trouble falling asleep were as much as three times more likely to suffer from heart failure and those who repeatedly felt exhausted each morning were also at risk.

Stress Hormones

When you suffer from sleep deprivation your body can release harmful stress hormones that both keep you awake and impact on your health.

Insomnia is a problem for many people, this news isn’t likely to ease their concerns. There is something of a continuous cycle between suffering from insomnia, suffering from stress and therefore exasperating the condition.

Some Good News

The good news is that many of the lifestyle changes you can do will not only help prevent insomnia, but will simultaneously improve your overall health.

Changes such as getting more exercise, preventing snoring and cutting out smoking can all have major potential benefits.

So really it’s never been a better time to improve your sleeping pattern, particularly with the amount of research that’s being released in recent weeks.
By Richard Owen


A Good Night's Sleep is what Women Want for Mother's Day

If you’re pondering over the perfect gift for your mother coming up to this weekend (Mother’s day is the 10th of March just in case you forget) then it appears that a good night’s sleep is what women really want.

A survey conducted by 1,000 mothers was conducted by the online discount site, Netvouchercodes.co.uk..

A healthy night’s sleep and a lie-in came top of the poll with 20% of the vote, mothers were asked the question of what would be their perfect gift this Mother’s day, aside from the usual choices of flowers and chocolates.

In second place was spending quality time with the family, many mothers find it difficult to do so particularly with a full-time job.

Other less popular results were the opportunity to have someone cook for them, a hot cup of tea, a clean house, an iPad and rather heartlessly with 1% of the vote, cold hard cash.

But many mothers are simply hoping for the rare opportunity to stay in bed this Sunday, this seems like a fairly simple idea but given the stresses and strains of work and home-life many mothers simply don’t get the required amount of sleep each night.

How can I give someone a good night’s sleep as a gift?

This is a very sensible question, after all it is essentially up to the individual to make lifestyle changes that will improve their sleeping pattern but one thing we can all do to improve our sleeping patterns is to cut out snoring.

Snoring affects most of us to some degree, either through our own snoring or though another member of the family. Snoring can have a potentially negative affect on our sleeping patter, leaving many people tired in the mornings after they failed to get their recommended daily allowance.

Snoring is actually one of the leading causes of sleep deprivation, if we occasionally have no control over work and domestic commitments then snoring is definitely something that can be prevented easily.

Sleep Deprivation is a topic that has been covered extensively in recent weeks by some of the most respected media sources in the United Kingdom, from the Guardian to the BBC. Studies show that just a week of sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on our genes, in the process sleep deprivation can damage our immune system leaving us more vulnerable to regular, every day issues such as cold, flu and other common viruses.

Recent studies have also shown that there is a link between snoring and our cardiovascular health. Habitual snorers were found to have thinner walls within cartoid arteries, these are common within smokers too, damage to these arteries can potentially cause difficulties in your heart, particularly high blood pressure and diabetes.

If snoring is a potentially treatable problem then we should be doing more as a society to actively correct the problem.

So what we’re essentially asking is either to cut out your mother’s, your partner’s snoring or better yet, sort out your own snoring problems.

How to stop snoring?

As we’ve already stated, snoring is one of the most common causes of sleep deprivation but is also one of the most treatable.

Surgery

Many people find that surgery is an effective treatment, surgery does offer high levels of success in preventing the problem but as with any surgical procedure it can cause potentially harmful side effects. Surgery is considered one of the more drastic methods to curing such a preventable problem, in addition the procedure is considered to be pretty invasive.

CPAP

Continous positive airway pressure is a proven way to prevent the problem but it certainly isn’t without its problems, the process involves wearing a mask while you sleep that continuously pumps air in to your throat, this in turn prevents snoring and sleep apnea.

This is also a rather drastic method, many have found that the machine is somewhat cumbersome and is uncomfortable to wear every night.

Mandibular Advancement Device

This is what we’re advising as the ideal way to prevent habitual snoring and sleep apnea, this is a method that’s clinically proven to produce results without the hassle and unnecessary stress that comes with surgery and CPAP.

This is also a cost effective method compared with other treatments, so we advise you try one a mandibular advancement device before the more drastic options.

So why not get yourself the perfect gift for Mother’s day with a stop snoring device (although some flowers probably wouldn’t go a miss).

By Richard Owen


Do You Snore? Download this App to find out!

Do you Snore? Talk in your Sleep?

Find out with Sleep Recorder – a FREE Windows Phone App

Do you snore – or if you talk in your sleep? Does your wife, husband or partner swear that they don’t snore? Sleep Recorder is an interesting Windows Phone app that records audio while you sleep and could help you answer those questions.

As well as recording your sleep cycles, Sleep Recorder also maps out where you’ve spent the night and uploads recordings to the cloud where they can be shared with others. Sleep Recorder is a unique app for your Windows Phone that can not only solve sleep related curiosities but also help identify sleep issues.

There is a free version of Sleep Recorder that is ad-supported in the Windows Phone Store. However if you want to buy a version that is advertisement free, Sleep Recorder Pro is also on the website at a special price of of $0.99 (£0.65).

By John Redfern


Snoring: Noisy nuisance or Health Hazard

If you don’t believe that snoring causes sleep loss, then you’ve probably never had to sleep in the same room as someone who snores. Few things are as detrimental to a good night’s sleep as a partner who sounds like they’re running a chain saw on the other side of the bed.

Doctors estimate that at some time in their lives, up to 50 per cent of all people snore, some regularly and some intermittently. As troubling as it is to be on the receiving end, snoring can cause sleep disturbances and health issues for the snorer, resulting in bigger problems than just a grumpy and very tired bedfellow.

A Noisy Nuisance
Snoring is caused by an obstruction in airflow, usually in the throat. Normally when we breathe, air moves silently, but when the throat and soft palate relax just a bit too much, air forces the tissues to rub together and produce harsh, grating noises. Structural differences between people can account for some snoring; some people who have a long, soft palate, a large uvula, or intact adenoids are more prone to snoring, since their throats are just naturally more obstructed. Temporarily blocked sinuses, caused by a cold or infection, can also be enough of an obstruction to cause temporary snoring that originates in the nose. Many allergy sufferers and those with chronic nasal congestion find that they snore more often when their sinuses are blocked. Snoring can also be caused by a deviated septum.

Relaxed muscles in the throat can contribute to intermittent snoring, too. In younger people, alcohol or sedatives can cause the relaxation, which depress the nervous system and slacken the throat and tongue. Even one’s sleeping position can be a factor. Sleeping on the back is known to prompt the muscle relaxation that causes snoring more often than sleeping on the side or the stomach. Older people can be more prone to snoring as well, since decreased muscle tone is part of the aging process.

One of the largest causes of chronic snoring is sleep apnoea. This condition results in such a severe airway constriction that the lack of oxygen causes the sleeper to wake up, often dozens of times a night. It affects men more often than women, and is found more often in people who are overweight.

Harsh Consequences of Harsh Sounds
Besides a tired and irate partner, snoring can cause health problems. Especially in conjunction with sleep apnoea, snoring can lead to sleep loss or even sleep deprivation. Long-term obstruction of the airways can lead to low blood oxygen levels, which in turn leads to increased blood pressure as the heart pumps more to compensate. All of these result in daytime drowsiness, an inability to concentrate, memory loss, and depression. Another consequence of sleep apnoea is enlargement of the heart, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke. Men with sleep apnoea are also more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Along with being detrimental to health, chronic snoring can also take its toll on relationships. Many couples choose to sleep apart in order to escape one person’s snoring. The noise is involuntary, but it’s very hard for the non-snoring partner not to become upset and resentful at being kept awake. Trying to deal with chronic snoring can leave both parties exhausted, irritable, and reluctant to communicate.

Taking Back the Night
Besides a swift jab of the elbow, there are simple lifestyle changes that can reduce chronic snoring. Since much snoring occurs when we sleep on our backs, learning to sleep on your side can help. Some swear by the old home remedy of sewing tennis balls to the back of a snorer’s pyjamas to prevent them from rolling over onto their backs in the middle of the night. Limiting alcohol intake before bed can also help reduce muscle slackness in the throat and one major way to combat snoring is to lose weight, since being overweight contributes to all the snoring risk factors.

If lifestyle changes don’t help the problem, then a trip to the doctor may be in order. Mouth guards and devices like chinstraps that can be worn at night can help keep the throat in a position that won’t cause snoring.

Snoring may seem like a harmless annoyance, but for the sake of both the snorer and their partner, it’s worth trying to eliminate. particularly to avoid the serious health problems that it can cause.

Act now – for everyone’s sake and for the sake of your health in particular.

By John Redfern


Sleep Deprivation Can Alter Genes

Research in the PNAS Journal indicates that a lack of sleep can have a profound effect on the internal workings of the human body. Studies show that the activity of hundreds of genes were altered when sleep was reduced to less than 6 hours every day in a week.

This news follows the recent developments in the media linking a lack of sleep and regular snoring with cardiovascular issues such a high blood pressure and stroke.

This research however indicated that a lack of sleep can potentially alter genes, particularly after prolonged periods of time.

Researchers at the University of Surrey examined the blood of 26 subjects who had sufficient sleep comparing the results with samples from subjects who had fewer than 6 hours a night (below the recommended amount)

Genes have instructions for building protein, after a lack of sleep the genes that were effected produced a lesser amount which essentially changes the chemistry within the body.

Studies showed that the immune system in particular was affected by the stress caused by lack of sleep, indicating that failing to get the required amount of sleep each night can leave you susceptible to common viruses and the flu.

Professor Colin Smith from the University of Surrey explained:

“Clearly sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur hinting at what may lead to ill health”

Sleep is necessary to replenish and replace new cells. Failing to get the required sleep can have a degenerative effect on the body, leaving it more prone to disease and common viruses.

The link with Snoring

Snoring has been found to be one of the major causes of sleep deprivation particularly for the partners of regular habitual snorers, by cutting out snoring it’s possible to eliminate the negative effect sleep deprivation has on the body.

By Richard Owen