A major study has found that moderate snorers were at 4.8 times greater risk of death from heart attacks and far from just being an inconvenience, amusing, or a nuisance, snoring could be the important early warning of serious life-threatening health problems.
The research study from the USA, where they lead the world in research on sleep disorders, conclusively shows that snoring can cause a thickening of the arteries; a condition that leads on to brain haemorrhages, strokes and heart attacks. It very clearly showed that Snorers are more likely to have thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery that supplies the brain with oxygenated blood.
Around a quarter of women and four in ten men are frequent snorers, although nearly half of us snore occasionally. Though it can interfere with our sleep – and that of our partners – it was not thought to cause any long-term health problems until recently.
American researchers claim the condition is as serious as having high blood pressure and urge snorers to seek medical advice.
After filling in detailed questionnaires about their snoring habits they were then given ultrasound scans to look at the thickness of their carotid artery and the evidence was conclusive. It was found that the inner layers of the artery walls were far thicker among the snorers than the other adults. It is thought that the thickening of the artery may be caused by the constant vibrations of the snoring which results in inflammation.
Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who led the research said: ‘Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected. Their recommendation is as follows: ‘Instead of kicking your snoring bed partner out of the room or spending sleepless nights elbowing them, seek out medical treatment for the snorer.
We are hoping to change the thinking so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious health issues arise. Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored.’
New ‘cures’ for those who suffer from sleep apnea or are heavy snorers.
The third and final part of this feature examines more recent developments in the treatment of heavy snoring and sleep apnea.
You can have your tongue stitched to the base of your mouth. This new approach, on trial at Westside Ear Nose and Throat Clinic in New York, involves ‘tying’ the tongue to the base of the mouth so that it cannot fall back and is primarily for sleep apnea sufferers and heavy snorers.
Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles that would normally hold the airways open relax during sleep — as a result, the base of the tongue and other soft tissue collapse. It’s the vibration of this tissue as air passes over it that causes the characteristic sound of snoring.
In some cases the airways can close completely — the patient then stops breathing for several seconds before the brain steps in to get things working again. However, this can lead to a patient briefly waking up to 100 times a night. If left untreated, sleep apnea is linked to daytime sleepiness, hypertension, depression, coronary artery disease and stroke. Current treatments range from lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol and losing excess weight, to surgery.
The most common treatment for moderate to severe cases is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This is a mask worn over the mouth and nose that gently blows air into the throat to keep the airways open while the patient sleeps and a number of patients find the mask hard to use.
Another option is surgery. Surgeons move a section of the lower jaw forward, which pulls the muscle attached to the tongue and prevents it from flopping back. Potential complications include jaw bone fracture or broken teeth.
In this experimental surgery, a tiny hole is drilled into the lower jaw bone at the base of the chin — a very thin needle is then threaded through into the back of the tongue. The needle contains a special type of surgical tape that has a number of tiny plastic cones threaded along it, like beads on a string. Not only do these cones anchor the thread in the tissue, but they trigger tissue to grow in and around them. The cones slowly dissolve over a period of three months, but this new tissue helps provide permanent anchor points for the tongue, preventing it moving out of place. Once it’s been stitched in place, the thread is gently pulled to anchor the back of thetongue to the base of the mouth.
Because this is deep in the tissue, it won’t interfere with talking or chewing. However,the anchoring is still strong enough to prevent the tongue from flopping back at night and blocking the airway.
‘The purpose of surgery is to eliminate the need for a continuous positive airway pressure device,’ say the researchers. ‘People who undergo this procedure will have a significant drop in the rate of breathing pauses at night. By lowering the apnoea rate, most patients wake up much more refreshed and have more energy during the day. It will also lower your risk factors for heart disease in the future.’ Commenting on the new procedure, Andrew McCombe, an ear, nose and throat surgeon at Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey, said: ‘It should work, but as ever it is very important that patients are thoroughly and carefully assessed to make sure it is the right people who get the treatment because it won’t work for everyone’.
Verdict: ‘This is going to work best for those where a big tongue, or specifically tongue base, is the cause of the problem. A full and thorough upper airway assessment is required to identify the exact nature of the problem so as to make sure the right treatment is provided. People whose snoring or apnoea is caused, for example, by nasal obstruction, large tonsils or laryngeal tumours may not benefit from the surgery.’
Have they got your number on this cure?
In another development, the vibration technology found in mobile phones is being used to combat sleep apnoea and chronic snoring.
Scientists have devised a small ring-shaped device, about the size of a 10p piece, which is attached to the back of the neck and vibrates whenever the wearer turns onto their back.
The device contains a pressure sensor that triggers the alarm ten seconds after a person lies on their back. It vibrates with gradually increasing strength until the wearer changes position.
In a clinical trial at St Lucas Andreas University Hospital, Amsterdam, 30 patients wore the device for a year. As yet there has been little further development or news of this method.
The second part of this feature examines further new and supposedly effective treatments of heavy snoring and sleep apnoea.
Sound Sensor and Microphone This consists of a plastic pressure sensor fixed to the top lip before sleep. This is stuck on with an adhesive strip, like a plaster, and secured in place with a piece of elastic that runs around the back of the head. The sensor measures air pressure as the patient exhales — a drop in pressure is a sign the patient is about to stop breathing. The sensor is connected to an iPod-sized control box, which constantly analyses the information it receives.
When it detects the patient is about to suffer an apnoea, it sends a short burst of sound to the earpiece. The device can emit hundreds of different sounds, and runs through them until it finds one that has the desired effect — a rise in air pressure that means the patient is exhaling and that the apnoea has been stopped. The signal is designed not to wake the patient, but instead to slightly ‘startle’ the brain, rousing it enough for it to tighten the muscles surrounding the windpipe.
Verdict: Currently on test on 125 US patients with UK trials due for 2013 but no confirmation of results as yet. The Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough, says: ‘It is an interesting idea but many more trials are needed to see how well it works. Likely Cost: £400+.
Radiotherapy of the Soft Palate One of the most common causes of snoring of course is having a soft palate and often surgery is recommended under a general anaesthetic to trim this back in a procedure called UPPP. I’ll miss out the mile long full title which reads like the name of that famous Welsh Railway station that no-one can pronounce but starts with Llan…..and ends in ‘gogogoch’. This operation is a last resort usually, and involves keeping the patient in hospital for a period of three or four days after the operation followed by a period of intense pain for anything up to two weeks.
As an alternative to this a new procedure has been trialled in Darlington and involves the use of RPS – Radiofrequency Palatal Stiffening. This has a price tag of about £1.500, which is a good £2,000 less than the previously described procedure of UPPP. But will it last? As yet there is no evidence one way or the other – very few procedures have taken place and they are recent, with no longer term assessments currently being available. That sort of proof will obviously be some years in coming.
Verdict: Quite expensive, moderately untested, and again, time will tell.
The £3 Anti-Snoring Jab is here At that price we start to say to ourselves “Surely it can’t possibly be any good because it’s so cheap.”
A pretty normal reaction to anything that has a price point that seems to undermine its value – after all, a bottle of Cough Linctus will cost you more. The claim is that it takes two minutes and costs just £3, but its effects could be priceless for the partners of loud snorers. It involves injecting a chemical ‘stiffener’ called Sodium Tetradecyl directly into the roof of the mouth. This hardening agent, once activated, stops the movement of the soft tissue at the back of the mouth and prevents it from vibrating. So far, there have been just a couple of hundred patients who have undergone this procedure, and all in Liverpool, where its chief (and only) proponent, Dr Hadi Al-Jassim, operates as a private ENT specialist. He has now concluded a series of talks around the country promoting this route as an alternative to the previously described painful, and expensive surgery. When reviewed recently in the Daily mail his comments were “’Surgical treatment is very painful and takes weeks of recovery time so many patients decide not to do it because they can’t get the time off work or their health’s not strong enough for surgery. ‘After this jab, patients can probably go home straight away and eat about an hour later. It will probably help around 70 per cent of people who have suffered from heavy snoring and it has made life easier for many patients and their partners. Even with those people it hasn’t cured, they reported sleeping better and waking up feeling fresher. The jab can be given three times a year but some people find one injection lasts them a year.
Verdict: As yet again, there are no longer-term studies or reports tracking the possible side effects or problems – it’s far too early for that. But it’s cheap perhaps suspiciously so to many – and the long term benefit is an unknown quantity – again it’s time will tell.
Overall Verdict: It’s probably wisest where your health is concerned to stay with the tried and tested – and a product tested for a long time too.
Do you snore? If so….read about some of the very recent – and perhaps – more unusual ‘cures’ for snoring
Over the last few years, there has been a gradual recognition that snoring is a really huge and serious problem, and that consequently it costs the world’s health services a small fortune, due to the many long-term and life threatening effects. Worldwide research has confirmed all this very fully, and as a result there has been a proliferation of ‘so-called cures’ or therapies.
None of them however would appear so far to have gained any form of medical approval. Some of them are detailed below for your future ‘consideration,’ with a little published background detail on each. Keep your eyes open for Part Two of this feature with some equally amazing new developments to combat heavy snoring.
A Robotic Bear As ever, the Japanese are not content with a low-tech solutions to the problem and have designed and built a robotic bear that flips over someone’s head, whilst sleeping, in order to open their airways through the changing of their position. The bear works as a pillow and has a built-in microphone. If it detects loud snoring, a paw reaches up to turn the snorer’s head sideways. It was recently featured at the International Robot Show in Japan and is targeted specifically at snorers whose snoring inhibits their blood oxygen level, with a separate hand monitor sensing when blood oxygen levels drop. Verdict: This seems to be an expensive and quite complex substitute for getting pushed hard by your partner. Cost: Unknown.
Nose Filters It would appear that these nose filters, that are inserted nightly in each nostril, and then fastened with adhesive tape, did actually produce some interesting results. They were however considered mostly appropriate for those with severe breathing disorders, severe heart disease, or acute respiratory inflammation or infection. In the USA, where they were developed, they are prescription only, and each filter has on a one off use only, being available in packs of thirty. The filter, which is attached to the bottom of each nostril, contains valves that allow in air, but make breathing out slightly more difficult. This increases pressure in the rest of the airway, helping to keep it open. This in turn prevents or reduces snoring caused by sleep apnoea. Verdict: Given some interest by the Sleep Centres in the UK – but at £70 for a 30 day supply are unlikely to be prescribed when cheaper and perhaps much more effective alternatives are already available.
Magnetic Implants Head and neck specialists in the US have developed this treatment. A narrowing of the respiratory passage, often associated with being overweight, is one of the main causes of snoring. It is also associated with sleep apnoea – which stops people from breathing during sleep – a serious and potentially dangerous condition. Some tests have been carried out on animals in the USA. So far, the results show that the implants prevented airway collapse during sleep, and that the magnets were not rejected. Normal swallowing and eating were not affected by the magnets, which are contained in plastic moulds. Nor was there any sign of infection. Verdict: “Repelling magnets could represent an implantable alternative to CPAP if human studies reveal similar findings,” say researchers. Cost: As yet unknown but an expensive operation would be required.
Improbable? Expensive? Unlikely? Only time will tell.
In the meantime the quiet simplicity of an NHS Approved mouthpiece or MAD, and its ready availability over the counter for a very small price of around only £30, clearly leads the way as the patient’s most successful and favourite route.
Look out for Part Two: This deals with more developments using a form of Radiotherapy Treatment, Annual Injections into the Palate, and an iPod style Sound system with a microphone attached to your lips.
Over a third of adults say they often wake up than three times a night
Coventry is the capital of Britain’s biggest snorers while 96% of residents in Chelmsford claim they are plagued by lack of sleep
A staggering nine in 10 people suffer sleepless nights, a recent survey conducted by a leading UK Hotel Group has revealed. Worry is one of the major reasons, with a third of those polled claiming it had stopped them nodding off, but in some areas, snoring hit almost 40% of the total but with wide regional variations.
The poll of 2,000 adults by the hotel chain Premier Inn, found that on average a quarter of adults said that the loud snoring of their partner regularly woke them up.
Other causes that scored significantly were pets waking their owners (eight per cent), bad dreams (20 per cent) and being woken by their own snoring (nine per cent).
How did your area perform? There were some extremely wide regional variations and I’ll leave you to form your own conclusions as to why.
In the regional breakdown, the survey claimed that some towns and cities were worse when it comes to restless nights.
Coventry is said to be home to Britain’s biggest snorers with 40 per cent of adults being woken in the night by their partner whereas Liverpool is the noisy neighbour hotspot with 17 per cent complaining that rowdy residents wake them on a regular basis.
But the sleepless capital of Britain is Chelmsford, with a staggering 96 per cent of residents plagued by a constant lack of sleep. Almost a third of the town (31 per cent) said tiredness left them grumpy the next day.
So Premier Inn took over an ordinary street in Chelmsford for one night and transformed it into ‘Good Night Sleep Street’ so that residents could have a good night’s sleep. Amusingly, it provided various sleep aids including a flock of sheep for residents to count and a night warden to keep noise levels at bay and provide warming drinks.
It is of course hard to eliminate worry totally from our daily lives, but if we managed to eliminate snoring, and that is so easily done, so many areas could be improved with regard to our general health and our overall daily physical performance.
Many serious illnesses have been linked to snoring; coronary disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious health problems are known to be closely related. Equally well researched is the effect of the resultant poor sleep value on performance at work, and in some cases, putting life at risk for those in charge of vehicles or machinery. Although closely related to older men. It is no respecter of age or sex and it is even known to produce a range of severe behavioural problems in children and poor attention levels in class.
In the survey results, fatigue and tiredness were blamed by as many as 25 per cent of participants for affecting their productivity, concentration and ability to do their job efficiently or safely.
If you snore – get help. It’s easy to do so and very important. Talk your GP or Dentist and they will advise you of the choices available to help you eliminate the problem of snoring and make your future health s safer bet.
Many of these solutions are as simple and inexpensive as a mouthpiece, listed and approved by the NHS. It will contribute significantly to help eliminate the problem of your snoring – probably pleasing your partner a great deal – and help you to avoid the many long-term health dangers that snoring brings to adults including stroke, heart attacks and diabetes.
I took the opportunity to take a look at some of the published lists of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions for the last ten years, and there are a few perennial favourites that appear time and time again. There are probably no prizes for guessing them, but the main ones are:
Losing excess weight
Getting fitter and healthier
Focusing on job performance
These are all “regulars” on the published Top Ten lists, year after year.
However, notably absent is the one key thing that can actually help people to achieve all of these goals: and that is getting better sleep.
Resolving to get better sleep may be the single most meaningful promise we can ever make to ourselves, because meeting our bodies’ need for sleep can empower us to accomplish so many other important goals.
So many studies have shown that optimizing sleep can help facilitate weight loss and that weight loss is no longer considered to result from “diet and exercise”, but rather from “diet, exercise and sleep”.
Similarly, athletic performance (and generalized fitness) is so closely linked to healthy sleep that most professional sports teams today have dedicated sleep professionals, who help manage players’ sleep schedules in an effort to gain a competitive edge.
On the job, outcomes ranging from problem solving and critical thinking skills to the likelihood of getting a promotion have been tied to optimizing sleep.
The impact of sleep deprivation on relationships has also been extensively studied, with the unanimous conclusion that well rested couples are quite significantly more likely to be happy than sleep deprived couples. Indeed, many therapists suggest that the old adage to “never go to bed angry” ought to be replaced with: “never argue when you are tired”. The theory being that it is better to get a good night’s rest, and deal with a problem in the morning, when you are both well rested, than to try to hash things out tired and irritable.
And key to that good night’s sleep for many is for you to eliminate snoring as the single main factor that not only damages your relationship, and your general health, but also can lead on to many more highly significant and life-threatening illnesses; strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer and even damage to the brain according to recent investigations into sleep apnoea or really heavy snoring where you actually stop breathing.
It has been proved beyond doubt that those individuals who enjoy less than six hours good sleep per night, versus seven or eight, face a four times higher risk of stroke. The survey ran for almost 3 years with nearly 6,000 respondents and was sponsored by the US Government, where there is a much higher awareness of both the risks, and the real cost, of snoring.
For the smallest outlay imaginable, as little as £30, you can eliminate most of these current dangers, and at the same time protect yourself from future deadly illnesses by acquiring a mouthpiece such as the SleepPro Standard – not only NHS approved but available instantly by post from their website without prescription. By using such a mouthpiece at night you can reduce the snoring danger to virtually nothing; pleasing your partner, improving your working day and levels of efficiency, and improving your overall health significantly by being well rested and prepared for the coming day. It may even save your life.
For all these reasons and more, consider making this year the year that you resolve to get better sleep. I wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy, and Well Rested New Year!
Make it your New Year Resolution to Stop Snoring with a Mandibular Advancement Device.
Mandibular Advancement Devices are commonly referred to as stop snoring mouthpieces or mouth guards. They are used to help treat patients suffering from problems of heavy snoring or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.
In order to understand how these mouthpieces work, it’s important to first understand a little bit about the method, as well as the relationship between snoring and sleep apnoea disorders.
Sleep apnoea disorders are characterized by pauses in normal respiration while the sufferer is asleep. The patient simply isn’t aware that he or she has stopped breathing in their sleep. In the daytime the symptoms often manifest as depression, constant tiredness and just overall malaise. As the body struggles to breathe at night, you often wake up feeling exhausted. In a recent survey, the regional breakdown claimed that some towns and cities were worse when it comes to restless nights.
Snoring and intermittent pauses in breathing are the most common symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. It’s important to note that in the case of Central Sleep Apnoea the sufferer often does not snore and Mandibular Advancement Devices are usually not prescribed.
As your body relaxes while you sleep, so do the smooth muscles in your airway through which your lungs receive oxygen as you breathe.
Unfortunately, in some individuals these muscles drastically loosen to the point where the airway is blocked. The airway is a tube shape, sort of like a garden hose. However, unlike a garden hose, which often holds its shape – in OSA sufferers this tube “flattens” due to lack of muscle tightness. With the airway collapsed it becomes difficult for air to pass through it into the lungs, and the muscles begin to vibrate against one another as the air passes through. This vibration is a sound that we commonly know as snoring.
For many patients, this begs the question…. What does a mouth guard have anything to do with the airway in my throat?
Any individual with a background in medicine can tell you that the mouth, nose, and throat are inseparable when it comes to treating disease and disorders. A medical problem originating in the throat can show it’s effects elsewhere and will do so.
Mandibular Advancement Devices work by moving the lower jaw slightly forward. It’s that simple – and SleepPro appliances are NHS Approved.
This artificial pushing on your jawbone causes the muscles in your throat to tighten lessening the obstruction in the airway. This allows more space for the air to pass through to your lungs and dramatically decreases the likelihood that you will snore in your sleep. As a matter of fact, many individuals who have not been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea choose to purchase these mouth guards over the counter or online, as their primary concern is to stop snoring.
There are many varieties of these devices available. Your physician may recommend you start with the standard version to see how you find it. If it shows signs of working there are two further options available: the SFA or Self Fit Adjustable version that has lots of micro-adjustments possible for additional comfort of fit and improved performance. These devices are inexpensive and the mouthpieces are often crafted of soft plastics. The ultimate version is Custom fitted to mould which you can make at home in seconds and send to SleepPro to make a fully tailored version for you.
Frankly, it’s a small expense that can even prove to be life saving in many instances as snoring is so closely related to serious illness if left untreated.
Many individuals are completely unaware that snoring is associated with any sort of sleep disorder. Fortunately, there is now a growing awareness of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and many people searching for methods on how to stop snoring often discover after visiting their physician that their snoring is only a symptom of a wider problem and not the disorder in and of itself.
Dental Surgeons say it can – they’ve found out why snoring can take life.
Snoring can indicate very serious upper airway disorders, and these blocked airways will increase Blood Pressure significantly, damaging the arteries and often leading to a Stroke.
Although considered harmless, snoring can actually indicate a very serious medical condition called sleep apnoea. Marked by irregular breathing, sleep apnoea often causes sufferers to stop breathing completely for up to several seconds and has even been linked to stroke and heart disease in some patients.
“When persons with sleep apnoea fall asleep, their tongue falls back into their throat, blocking their airway,” Dr. Arthur Friedlander, an oral surgeon who worked on the study conducted at University of California’s School of Dentistry, said in a recent statement.
“As they struggle for breath, their blood pressure simply soars and this rise in blood pressure damages the inner walls of the carotid arteries lining the sides of the neck,” he added. “Cholesterol and calcium stick to these injury sites and amass into calcified plaques, which block blood flow to the brain. The result of all this is often a massive stroke.”
According to Dr. Friedlander, these deposits of calcium deposits are merely the tip of the iceberg. “The X-ray can’t show the true size of the plaque, which is also made up of fat, platelets, and other soft tissue.” When a person is suffering from sleep apnoea, air cannot flow in or out of the nose or mouth. Oxygen is not taken in so carbon dioxide builds to dangerous levels in the blood.
“It’s just like pressing a pillow over someone’s face.” Friedlander said.
At the other side of the world to this, further recent clinical research by leading anaesthesiologists in Japan clearly demonstrates that manoeuvres such as lifting the chin, and thrusting the jaw forward, markedly improve airway potency in both adults and children.
`This clinical trial information demonstrated how using a chinstrap alone improved obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) symptoms as well as, or better than the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which necessitates the supply of oxygen throughout the night by using a face mask – not without its side effects.
Further tests with dental mouthpieces, alone, and also combined with the use of the chinstrap in more serious cases, underlined even more the ease of treating sleep apnoea this way – and the clear advantages of doing so.
This important research clearly demonstrates the easier method of treatment but don’t attempt self-cure. It is important to refer the problem that you may have to your General Practitioner.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a significant and dangerous condition – that often kills if left untreated. OSA symptoms are often responsible for daytime sleepiness, motor vehicle crashes, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Age is not at all relevant to the equation either. Make sure that you check for the symptoms in your children and grandchildren where surprisingly it is found more often than you may think and is best resolved immediately. Children’s behavioural problems may be linked to their sleep habits, according to a number of new studies. Children who snore often are nearly twice as likely as other children to have attention deficit and hyperactivity problems.
So if you find any symptoms of OSA, or simply heavy snoring, act now. Consult your GP. The evidence clearly shows that a life may depend on it.
Recently, when a young boy was shown on TV in San Francisco snoring loudly, as part of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, the crowd predictably laughed their heads off. However, while the video may look funny to those who do not know better, what it was exposing was a young person who suffering from severe sleep apnoea, said Carole L. Marcus, Director of The Sleep Centre at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
To Carole Marcus, snoring is no laughing matter. Nor does she think it should be for anyone else. She commented, “Snoring is something that people often don’t take seriously, but it could be a symptom of a very serious underlying condition.”
The American Academy of Paediatrics recently released new guidelines regarding children being screened for snoring every time a visit is made to a paediatrician. Snoring is often related to sleep apnoea, and loud or severe snoring is almost certainly a sign of the affliction. What is worse, sleep apnoea is health concern not only directly, but also indirectly, as it manifests in both behavioural and health problems. Unfortunately, despite the obvious connections, the symptoms often go ignored in health screenings.
These new standards were released recently after her team of researchers reviewed over 3,000 studies. Paediatricians throughout the whole of the United States will adopt their standards but yet again the United Kingdom is shown to be lagging behind in snoring research and recommendations for its treatment.
“I can tell you from my clinical experience how many children fall through the net,” Marcus said. “Sleep apnoea is just so incredibly under diagnosed in kids.”
Sleep apnoea is the cause of repeated interruptions in breathing during a person’s sleep cycle. Children who suffer from the condition are more irritable and often wish to sleep during the day. Many of these children experience headaches and have difficulty focusing in school and with retaining information and commands.
“Parents need to make a point to watch and listen to their children while they are sleeping,” he said. “They definitely need to pay attention to snoring just as they pay attention to height and weight, and raise it with their paediatrician.”
Sleep apnoea affects between 2-5% of children; however, only a much lower percentage is diagnosed and receives any type of treatment. For every five children diagnosed with asthma, there should at least one child diagnosed with sleep apnoea.
“We’ve all heard the comment made, ‘This kid has asthma,’ but how often do you hear ‘This kid has sleep apnoea?’ It’s rare – far too rare.”
While removing their tonsils can cure some sleep apnoea, many others will need a vastly different type of treatment ranging from continuous positive airway pressure, usually in the form of machines that pump air through a tube and mask into the child’s airway, or the less problematic use of an oral mouthpiece, a chinstrap, or a combination of the two.
These new recommendations by The American Academy of Paediatrics break new ground in their steps for sleep medicine regarding children, and it is high time that this sort of focus took place here in the UK.
The key AAP comment was “It’s a big deal because it shows that we recognize the importance of sleep disorders in children. It’s a big change, and an important one.”
Canada meantime is heading down the same path under the leadership of CHEO, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where one of the few fully equipped Sleep Laboratories is specially addressing this problem and they are starting to make key findings available.
Their key findings include the conclusion that children from the age of five to ten years old need a minimum of ten hours of sleep per night for proper development, while teenagers need at least eight and a half hours.
These findings include that children from five to ten years old need a minimum of ten hours of sleep per night for proper development, while teenagers need at least eight and a half hours.
“We know that short sleepers eat more and move less as a result of tiredness and a lack of sleep,” said CHEO’s Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput. “We also know that watching TV, using a laptop, and using mobile phones before going to bed will impact on their sleep quality.”
This lack of quality sleep can lead to problems such as diabetes, weight gain and even some forms of cancer down the road – all issues that CHEO is trying to address – and prevent.
One of the most heavily watched programmes to be shown on BBC these last few weeks has been Goodnight Britain – a long overdue insight into unusual, but common, sleeping habits. It was a programme that was reviewed in depth by the Press with a widely ranging variety of responses.
According to the documentary, half a million Britons suffer from parasomnia, the technical term for sleep-walking, talking, and in the case of one woman featured on the programme, screaming and running about in the belief that you are being assaulted. I sympathise with the lady’s housemate, as both my stepdaughters are afflicted with this condition, but not to such an extreme I’m glad to say.
The programme also tackled sufferers with very common problem sleep behaviours such as snoring and insomnia. The first step involved fitting out their homes with night vision cameras, which were then closely monitored by two sleep experts – who weirdly never seemed to need any sleep – who were concealed nearby in their ‘sleep-mobile’.
Initial reactions were of course predictable and to begin with it was hard not to see the funny side of the unusual night-time activity. Snoring, for instance, has always been a subject of choice for our comedians.
However the show soon highlighted the serious side of sleeping and its various problems, as one participant was suspended from his job as a van driver due to his suffering from OSN – or obstructive sleep apnoea, a terrifying condition in which the muscles and soft tissue in the back of the throat collapse inwards during sleep, blocking the airway, and meaning that he stopped breathing in between snores.
As a result of his diagnosis, he was asked to notify the DVLA and to stop driving for a period of four weeks while he is treated “What am I going to do now,’ he asked, “I’ve done this job for 22 years and it’s all I know”.
But due to treatment there is a happy ending. At the end of this four-week period his GP notified the DVLA that he is now safe to drive and he is able to resume driving. He goes on to develop his career and achieve his HGV Class 2 licence.
It became very apparent that few knew they had a sleep condition or disorder. However, often their partner did. “Me, I don’t snore” is the usual answer. Even those who have accepted that they do are not aware how much it can affect their health, causing strokes, diabetes and other serious illnesses. In fact we are talking very high percentages of the population – a real problem – and often ignored in the United Kingdom – whereas in Australia, Canada and the United States it is taken very seriously and is a specialist treatment area with both Doctor and Dentist.
It is estimated that a quarter of the UK population suffer sleeping difficulties and over 10 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were issued in Britain last year alone. Commentator Sian Williams described Britain as “ a nation in the grip of a sleep crisis” – a crisis that costs the NHS £1.6 billion last year just for prescriptions and sleeping pills alone – let alone the more serious results that can happen. Yet anyone who’s ever suffered from insomnia, however fitfully, knows that it’s a very miserable experience.
Sleep disorders affect many people – whether it’s snoring, sleep walking, insomnia or sleep apnoea – so if you feel you have a serious problem seek medical advice.
For the vast majority of poor sleepers, however, just making some simple improvements to their bedtime routine and environment will boost sleep quality.
For others, there are many NHS approved solutions out there including MAD’s – dental mouthpieces for want of a better term, Chinstraps and not only are they inexpensive and readily available – there is overwhelming evidence that they work, saving thousands from both short term sleep problems but more importantly, serious long term health problems, or even sudden death.
The key thing si to know if you are a sufferer – and if so – seek expert medical advice on what to do next. Do not ignore it.
The British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association has launched a UK-wide survey into public awareness of the condition, sleep apnoea. The aim is to test public knowledge about signs, symptoms and health risks associated with the condition.
To make this the biggest survey yet it needs adult participants from all walks of life to take part. Whether you have this condition or think you have it, or somebody you know has it, or even if you don’t know anything at all, they would like to hear from you.
The survey will run until the end of January 2013 and the results will be published during next year’s regular National Stop Snoring Week from 22 – 27 April 2013.
To test your knowledge visit www.sleepapnoeasurvey.org.uk