If you’re feeling that little bit more tired this morning, you’re definitely not alone. A British Sleep Survey found that it takes on average eight minutes longer to fall asleep in February.
It’s pretty simple really, darker days, longer nights and central heating in homes throughout the UK make sleeping that little bit more difficult.
The sun rises much later in the winter months than in July or August for example, so it’s normal to feel like your bed has a particularly strong hold on you this month. After all who would want to leave the comfort of their beds to face the snow, rain and wind we’ve faced recently.
Luckily we’ve put together some useful tips to help getting to sleep that little bit easier this gruelling month.
Good Sleeping Habits
These are some simple tips that’ll help you drift off.
A cool, dark place is crucial for your sleeping pattern, you should think of your bedroom as your relief from work, stress and noise.
Turn the temperature down; We don’t expect you to sleep in the garden but the central heating should definitely be switched off, waking up with a sweat is definitely not going to help your sleeping pattern, it’ll help you save money on your energy bills too.
Leave the iPad/iPhones in the living room; Technology can provide an unnecessary distraction, you don’t want to be checking Twitter in the early hours of the morning.
Wind down: An hour before bed, you should be in a relaxed frame of mind, Television, Video Games and late night work are definitely a no, reading and having a bath will certainly help!
Cut the Caffeine: The caffeine in a cup of coffee can stay in your system for as much as nine hours! So keep the espresso for the mornings.
Stop the Snoring: Snoring will not only keep your partner awake, it’ll disrupt your sleep cycle too, snoring decreases your overall quality of sleep, so look to prevent that horrible noise as soon as possible!
If you’re pondering over the best gift to give your better half this year, SleepPro can certainly help you out. Chocolates are dated, roses are definitely a cliché, why not give your partner the greatest gift of all, night after night of silent, restful sleep.
So whether you’re sorting out your own snoring problems or finally getting your partner to cut the noise, SleepPro should be your choice this Valentine’s Day.
And to celebrate our campaign to cut out snoring this month we’re offering you a chance to win a set of his-and-hers Onesies.
It’s pretty simple really, if you want to be entered in to our Prize Draw visit one of our pages.
Onesies are becoming increasingly popular, there’s no better way to dress in the comfort of your own home, at a festival, or if you’re brave enough wear one at work, it’ll definitely get you noticed around the office.
For many people snoring is considered nothing more than a pesky bedroom annoyance, it may cause you to sleep apart or spend the night wide awake shaking and elbowing your partner to stop the noise.
Snoring is generally considered as a “cosmetic” problem, often the source of humour. However a new study performed by a Hospital in Michigan, USA, reiterates the fact that snoring is actually indicative of greater health issues.
Snoring may actually be the initial sign of cardiovascular problems and that should be treated in the same regard as smoking as far as your cardiovascular health is concerned. Sleep Apnea is considered to pose the same difficulties to your heart, the closing of the airways and the periodic lack of oxygen to the brain has negative effects on the health of your heart.
Not all snorers have sleep apnea but both issues may cause trauma to your carotid arteries.
The aforementioned study analysed data from as much as 913 patients, from teenagers to fifty year olds. These patients were snorers between the years of 2006 and 2012 but weren’t Sleep Apnea sufferers, they undertook ultrasound tests that could measure the thickness of their carotid arteries. The thickness of these inner layers of the arteries were found to be thicker than those who didn’t snore.
These findings were actually similar to those found in sufferers of diabetes and worryingly, smokers too.
So just as we all encourage smokers to cut out their unhealthy habit, isn’t it time we start encouraging snorers to cut it out too?
Why you should avoid a nightcap before bed, it’ll increase your chances of snoring!
It’s widely believed that an alcoholic drink before you sleep will help you relax, but it’s been known to disrupt sleep and increase your likelihood to snore. Scientists at the London Sleep Centre found that alcohol acts as a sedative, it may help you drift off but it’ll also disrupt your regular sleep cycle.
Those who go to sleep under the influence of alcohol will feel as though they’ve been in a deep slumber but they’ve actually deprived themselves of the type of sleep that leaves you feeling well rested; REM Sleep.
Many people have become reliant on alcoholic drinks to help them drift off to sleep, but in a way you’re cheating yourself out of effective, restful sleep.
What is REM sleep?
REM is the abbreviation for Rapid Eye Movement; this is the deepest stage of your sleep where you’re most likely to dream and more likely to get the real rest that helps your body recover for the next day.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea have been known to disrupt this sleep cycle and will therefore reduce the overall quality of your sleep. This makes snoring a real problem for many people around the world.
How does Alcohol affect Snoring?
Research has shown that even if you weren’t a habitual snorer, booze can turn non-snorers in to snorers and more worryingly it can even increase your likelihood to suffer Sleep Apnea. Consuming Alcohol increases the chances of vibration in your vocal chords as a result.
A lesson to be learned
So what does this teach us? Well if you’ve got a big day planned in the morning it’s a good idea to leave the nightcap alone, it may take you a while longer to sleep without a drink, but you’ll feel much more refreshed in the morning.
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.
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.
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!