Children's obesity risk Increased by breathing problems and poor sleep

A solid night’s sleep does more than recharge a growing brain — it may also help keep a growing body lean – and that applies to all of us. As winter has now arrived properly, and school holidays and Christmas approach fast, it becomes a very relevant subject for all of us.

Dollarphotoclub_48329651-SleepPro

Breathing problems or a chronic lack of sleep early in life may double the risk that a child will be obese by age 15, according to research published in The Journal of Paediatrics. Childhood obesity has been linked before with the number of hours a kid sleeps each night. But other early problems with night-time breathing, like snoring, or the more serious obstructive sleep apnoea, also seem to be predictive of significant weight gain among children, according to the research.

For the study, researchers analysed the data from 1,900 children in England and followed the participants for about 15 years. Study results showed that those who got the least amount of sleep between the ages 5 and 6 had between a 60 per cent and 100 per cent increased risk of obesity by age 15.

In recent years, lack of sleep has become a well-recognized risk for childhood obesity. Sleep-disordered breathing, or SDB, which includes snoring and sleep apnoea, is also a risk factor for obesity but receives less attention. However, these two risk factors had not been tracked together over time to determine their potential for influencing weight gain.

Simply, researchers found that children with the most severe sleep-disorder breathing (SDB) had the highest obesity risk.

If impaired sleep in childhood is conclusively shown to cause future obesity, then it may be vital for parents and physicians to identify sleep problems early, so that corrective action can be taken and obesity prevented.

With our knowledge that childhood obesity is hovering at 17 per cent in the United States, we’re hopeful that efforts to address both of these risk factors could have a tremendous public health impact in the future.

A common cause of sleep-related breathing problems in children is due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, which can be removed with surgery if a major problem occurs. Misalignment of jaws or teeth can also cause issues.

However, we know that too many teens are not getting enough sleep and the problem is getting worse, according to a study from Columbia University. Researchers found that only 6.2 per cent to 7.7 per cent of females and 8.0 per cent to 9.4 per cent of males reported getting the required nine or more hours of sleep that they really need each day.

We must always remember that it’s easier to prevent obesity than to treat it – whether it is in children, or in adults – and in the case of children there are many other additionally known benefits as well as good health, such as better behaviour and an increased focus on their schoolwork and studies.

Sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnoea are best prevented in children by ensuring good sleep hygiene patterns, and in the case of the adult a simple stop snoring mouthpiece can make all the difference. As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’

John Redfern


Snoring – the warning sound that says your life is under threat

Anyone who suffers from a sleep disorder will probably have lower levels of aerobic fitness and be unable to take in the required amount of oxygen during any form of activity, whether it be cycling, walking up a hill, or simply climbing the stairs. Research has quantified this on many occasions and it is particularly common in those who snore heavily or suffer from the very dangerous disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea.

SleepPro Vicious Circle

Sleep apnoea causes the upper airway to become blocked by soft tissue in the back of the throat during sleep and this causes pauses in breathing and other symptoms, such as gasping and snoring. The sleep disorder has more than likely been caused by being overweight, and as a consequence less fit. In fact it goes further because being severely obese can causes decades of ill health and it can also reduce the average life expectancy by as much as eight years. It’s a vicious circle that exists.

Recent analysis showed that being obese at a young age was even more damaging to health and life expectancy. The research team, based at McGill University in Canada, said heart problems and type 2 diabetes were major sources of disability and death. Despite the health problems caused by obesity now being well known, many people often disregard the risks. This latest report, published in The Lancet, used a computer model to take those risks and calculate the impact of weight on life expectancy throughout life. Some of the key findings are covered in the following statements:

  • In comparison with 20 to 39-year-olds with a healthy weight, severely obese men of the same age lost 8.4 years of life and women lost 6.1.
  • Men also spent 18.8 more years living in poor health while women spent 19.1years in that state.
  • Moving up an age group to those in the forties and fifties, men lost 3.7 years and women 5.3 years to obesity.
  • Men and women in their sixties and seventies lost just one year of life to obesity, but still faced seven years in ill health.

Professor Steven Grover of McGill said: “Our computer modelling study shows that obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, and diabetes that will, on average, dramatically reduce an individual’s life expectancy. The pattern is clear. The more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health, as they have many years ahead of them during which the increased health risks associated with obesity can negatively impact their lives.”

This prompted the comment from the lifestyle manager of the charity, Heart Research UK, who said:

“How many more wake-up calls do we need?”

“This research study yet again supports the clear message that by becoming obese you not only take years off your life, but also life off your years in terms of experiencing more years in poor health rather than enjoying a happy, active and productive life.”

John Redfern


Snoring & Sleep Apnoea – the dangers and the differences?

Snoring and sleep apnoea are more common as a problem than most people think – and often the snorer often doesn’t even realise they’re suffering. Both are Sleep Related Breathing Disorders (SRBD) – and one in five adults has one in some form. Disorders range in severity from the simple but disruptive problem of snoring through to sleep apnoea, where the snorer actually stops breathing.

Complications of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is the most common form of SRBD. The airway becomes restricted, causing the soft tissue to vibrate, which is what makes the snoring noise. The snorer doesn’t know they’re doing it unless they’re told, or someone plays them a recording! It’s the loud, rattling, hoarse, annoying noise created by vibrations from the snorer’s soft palate and the back of their tongue, typically as they breathe in, that often keeps their partner awake and disturbs the rest of the family.

As we get older (and most likely heavier!) our throats get more floppy on the inside. Things like alcohol and sedative medications make this worse, while smoking inflames the soft tissue and narrows our throats even further. Snoring is more than just an annoyance – it can disturb the snorer’s own sleep as well as their partner’s, but more seriously it can lead to sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is when people can’t breathe and sleep at the same time. The snorer has a disrupted breathing pattern during their sleep, caused by a collapse of the upper airways and for a period of time, the snorer stops breathing. It is estimated that 24% of adult men and 9% of adult women between the ages of 30 and 60 have some degree of sleep apnoea. You can think of sleep apnoea as the severe endpoint of snoring. The term used most commonly is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). In simple terms, that means you have a physical blockage or obstruction in the throat while sleeping, and this causes you to stop breathing.

With sleep apnoea, it’s not so much about breathing too hard; the throat is just too floppy to stay in shape and let the air through. This obstruction can lead to the snorer missing anything from a few breaths to many hundreds during a night, with each gap between breaths lasting around 10 to 20 seconds. The snorer’s partner may notice periods of silence between snores. Sometimes these might wake the snorer up, but often they’ll just start breathing normally again – and snoring – without even being aware that their sleep was disrupted.

Untreated sleep apnoea fragments the sufferer’s sleep and will usually make them sleepy during the day, and it is this that makes an OSA sufferer a real danger to themselves and those around them – particularly if driving a vehicle or operating machinery. Certain factors can mean you’re at greater risk from sleep apnoea:

  • Being overweight
  • Being a heavy snorer
  • A family history of snoring and sleep apnoea
  • Drinking alcohol in the evening
  • Smoking.

The effects of snoring and sleep apnoea Both destroy a good night’s sleep, which can seriously affect your health and even your life expectancy. Sleep is essential for your body and brain to repair and renew itself, and not getting enough sleep can make you drowsy the next day – which is dangerous. Chronic lack of sleep can also contribute to a range of medical conditions including obesity, depression and anxiety.

Snoring itself can also affect your health. It vibrates and hardens the arteries in your throat (this is called atherosclerosis), for instance, while the disruptions in breathing can lead to heart disease, persistent high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke and diabetes. Think of your heart as an engine – it needs air to work

What to do about it? It’s easily treated so be reassured: there’s a range of treatment pathways that can help people stop snoring, and reduce the risk of sleep apnoea. It’s a highly researched subject and a simple oral appliance or chin support strap worn at night, can stop your snoring immediately. Various types of oral appliance are also recommended for treating mild to moderate sleep apnoea before it becomes so bad that breathing equipment called CPAP becomes necessary to be used all night – something to try to avoid.

You should act quickly if you snore and the cost of a mouthpiece is a small outlay to preserve your healthy sleep and that of your family too.


Women ask for more sleep time

In a survey of sleeping habits done this week by a UK national newspaper, Britain’s women would like to have at least 15 days more sleep each year than they are currently getting. They feel worse off than men it would seem who by contrast reckon that they are only 10 days short.

Sleeping Girl at night

In a general overview of all adults, the summary states that ideally they would like to sleep for seven and a half hours a night, but they are only getting just over six and a half hours – a big difference.

Experts believe that insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic, with chronic sleep deprivation linked to serious medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency. Obesity and weight gain of course can be a key cause of snoring that will accelerate these serious illnesses through oxygen deprivation to the brain, and lead on to obstructive sleep apnoea. Previous US research even found lack of sleep could double the signs of skin ageing, including fine lines in the skin.

This latest survey of 2 000 UK adults showed men claim to get less sleep than women – but also need less of it.

  • It revealed men were getting six hours three minutes sleep on average, compared with six hours 40 minutes they believe they should have – a sleep deficit of 40 minutes a night, adding up to ten days three hours over a year.
  • Women claim to get six hours 21 minutes each night – but want seven hours 23 minutes. The sleep deficit of one hour two minutes a night equates to a staggering 15 days 17 hours annually.

Research suggests seven and a half hours of sleep is the optimum level for good health and earlier this year, scientists at Surrey University found just one week of poor sleep can disrupt hundreds of genes linked to stress, immunity and inflammation.

Other interesting key facts emerged:

  • More men than women are woken up by their partners – 11.5 per cent versus nine per cent – and twice as many women are woken by children – 11 per cent versus 5.5 per cent.
  • Snoring by a partner kept one in ten awake while a further seven per cent suffered because of their own snoring,

In the USA, The National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the National Geographic Channel and The Public Good Projects, will draw the nation’s attention to the health consequences of sleep deprivation and what keeps Americans up at night. The documentary, Sleepless in America, premieres on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, November 30th.

“Feeling tired is only one consequence of getting poor quality sleep,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Research has helped illuminate a wide array of health challenges stemming from chronic sleep problems. Researchers have uncovered links between poor sleep and health issues ranging from obesity to cardiovascular disease to mental health disorders.”

Common belief may hold that it gets harder to sleep the older you get, but sleep problems take a great toll on all ages, including young Americans: 70 per cent of high school adolescents are sleep deprived, increasing their risk of suicide, mood problems and delinquency. Millions of U.S. adults have sleep apnoea, and up to 80 per cent don’t even know it.

The bottom line seems obvious. Focus on keeping your weight down, getting the right amount of quality sleep, and if you snore then make sure you do something about it soon for everyone’s sake, not just your own.

John Redfern

 


National Diabetes Month: Type 2 diabetics have high risk for sleep apnoea

November is National Diabetes Month in the USA, and their National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project is advising everyone with Type 2 diabetes to be aware of his or her high risk for obstructive sleep apnoea.

Glucometer with medication and a syringe

 

It is part of the Healthy Sleep Project’s “Stop the Snore” public education campaign. They wish to increase knowledge amongst those people with symptoms of sleep apnoea about their risk for this chronic disease. The key objective is for them to get treatment – quickly.

The latest research shows that seven in 10 people with Type 2 diabetes also suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, a dangerous condition characterized by episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep. The major warning sign for sleep apnoea is snoring, especially when it is combined with choking, gasping or silent breathing pauses.

Similar results are to be found in the United Kingdom and numbers are increasing.

“People with Type 2 diabetes are much more likely to have obstructive sleep apnoea and should discuss their risk for sleep apnoea with a doctor,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project. “Common symptoms of sleep apnoea include snoring, gasping or choking sounds during sleep, as well as daytime fatigue or sleepiness.”

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 28.9 million Americans aged 20 years or older suffer from diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 per cent of all these diagnosed cases. Further non-diabetic sufferers are thought to total around 25 million but often go undiagnosed.

A University of Chicago study showed that treating sleep apnoea might have as much of an effect in some diabetes patients as prescribed oral diabetes medications. In the study, one week of CPAP treatment lowered average 24-hour glucose levels and improved post-breakfast glucose response in Type 2 diabetics with obstructive sleep apnoea. The ‘dawn phenomenon’, which is an early-morning increase in blood sugar in people who have Type 2 diabetes, also was reduced by 45 per cent as a result of the CPAP therapy.

The major problem is that sufferers object to CPAP for longer periods and find it difficult to continue using it without supervision; they find it uncomfortable and unpleasant to use because of the many side-effects such as extremely dry mouth, or other problems such as claustrophobia.

A key solution to those objecting to CPAP is to use an oral appliance – a simple mouthpiece popped in place at night and this prevents the snoring problem, and prevents apnoeas too, by slightly re-adjusting the position of the lower jaw. It moves the jaw forward and this opens the airway.

These new clinical solutions have been developed with great success. Papworth Hospital is Britain’s leading hospital for dealing with sleep disorders and cardiovascular problems, and is world-renowned for its work. Their recent testing of oral appliances recommends the SleepPro Custom as the leading appliance to use for both snoring, and for cases of mild to moderate sleep apnoea. Not only was it the most efficient in tests, but also it was also the most cost-effective – particularly when compared to a selection of leading specialist bespoke dental solutions.

To mark this recommendation, SleepPro have temporarily halved the price of their bespoke Custom appliance to ensure a purchasing opportunity for as possible of those who snore heavily or suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnoea. This offer is for a limited period and is available by phone or on their website.

John Redfern

About the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project was initiated in 2013 and is funded by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention through a cooperative agreement with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The collaborative project addresses the sleep health focus area of Healthy People 2020, which provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. The sleep health objectives are to increase the medical evaluation of people with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea, reduce vehicular crashes due to drowsy driving and ensure more Americans get sufficient sleep.


Women, Snoring and sleep apnoea?

It’s important firstly for women to realize that snoring is not an illness, but it can be a symptom of something more problematic. When you fall into a deep sleep, the muscles in your body relax, including the muscles in your mouth. They can relax so much that they can partially block the airway, causing vibrations — and that starts you snoring.
young brunette sleeping at working time. beautiful girl lying on
In some cases, snoring is caused by your mouth anatomy — a low, thick palate or an unusually long uvula, for example. Sometimes it’s due to nasal problems like chronic congestion, or sleep apnoea, or even alcohol. The narrower your airway gets, the more forceful the airflow becomes, causing vibrations in the tissues in your throat.

Though snoring can happen in otherwise healthy people, there are several causes for snoring, ranging from the benign to the more serious. Sleep apnoea is the most serious underlying cause of snoring. People who have sleep apnoea stop breathing over and over again while they’re sleeping.

On top of that, it’s been claimed that a new category of people could be sufferers.

According to new research in Sweden, half of those affected could be young and healthy women aged as young as 20 upwards. In September a study by the UCLA School of Nursing suggested the condition is even more harmful to women than men. So what is the foundation for this?

Firstly, snoring isn’t a prerequisite for it – a narrow neck, a small mouth, a big tongue and set-back jaw can all be factors in obstructive sleep apnoea. That’s because they all help to produce a narrow airway, which could easily get blocked while you’re asleep.

It’s been suggested over the years that fatigue is another pointer towards the condition, and this is still the case. However, some people may have been undiagnosed for so long that they presume they just aren’t good at sleeping, rather than they have an underlying health problem.

There are several big indicators that you could have a problem. If there are pauses while you snore during which you gasp or choke, you may be a sufferer. Ask your partner if he’s noticed this happening. You’ll usually feel tired during the day and find yourself dropping off during any downtime too, plus you’re likely to have headache first thing in the morning, suffer concentration and memory problems and feel irritable. Some people find they urinate more at night too, and have a dry mouth in the morning.

Don’t let all of this stress you out though, as help is at hand. If you do have the condition, there are different ways to deal with it, such as mouthpieces, meaning the famously frightening CPAP machine isn’t your only port of call. There are also small things you can do to help, such as stopping smoking, ditching caffeine and big meals, trying to sleep at the same time daily and propping your head up when you sleep.

However, treat it quickly and start to use a mouthpiece to stop your snoring. Try out a starter mouthpiece like SleepPro Woman or Easifit – these are the usual entry level oral appliances – and when you feel that they’re right for you step up to something made specially to fit your mouth shape – particularly if you suspect that you have sleep apnoea.

The best example is SleepPro Custom. Not only will it stop you snoring straight away but it will prevent sleep apnoea too, as discovered in product tests by the world renowned Papworth Hospital, who recommend it as the first product to be given to mild and moderate sleep apnoea sufferers. There’s no better recommendation than that.

John Redfern


Welcome to Snorevember

Welcome to Snorevember

A month seems to be regarded as the standard time period to stop things that damage your health so SleepPro have decided to join in. We’re going to call it Snorevember for all the obvious reasons, and to celebrate the Stop Snoring month of Snorevember we’re going to do a special price offer for our Custom mouthpiece. It has recently become very highly rated in clinical tests. You’ll find the details of the offer here on our website and it will start at the end of this week – so keep looking. You’ll be able to save £75.
But….read on and find out why you need to do that.

Schnarchen - Paar im Bett

 

 

Many different campaigns have been urging people to give up alcohol and tobacco for October. We’ve had ‘Go Sober for October’ and quit smoking for ‘Stoptober’. You can grow a moustache for Movember and a beard for Decembeard. In the New Year apparently you’ll be able to regret all that festive alcohol and quit dinking with Dry January or Dryathalon.

Strangely enough they all seem to be successful, either in fundraising for great causes like MacMillan or in improving an individual’s health as they give up certain long-held and damaging vices.

It’s inevitable there will be concurrent crusades. There are lots of good causes but only 12 months in the year. This is no bad thing, because in charity and health promotion, just as much as in business, “competition grows the market”…..and if you give up one bad habit you’re more likely to quit another.

Snoring has never really been considered a vice – but it is – it kills.

Often regarded as simply a music hall joke, and done by men only, the truth is coming out. Snoring, and in its worst form where it’s known as OSA, or obstructive sleep apnoea, is now regarded as a deadly sleep disorder.

All our bodily systems need oxygen to function, and as we spend around one-third of each day sleeping, those with sleep apnoea are not getting enough oxygen for a third of their lives. Over time, the built-up effects of reduced oxygen contribute to a host of other conditions, making the true cost of sleep apnoea a sky-high, uncountable figure. Weight gain makes a huge contribution to this happening, along with age.

Sleep apnoea contributes to the most common and expensive diseases that we treat, notably high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease like stroke and heart attack—and those are just the common ones. Women with sleep apnea are also known to have low birth-weight babies and a much higher frequency of caesarean section. In addition to this, adults who sleep poorly have a higher incidence of anxiety, depression, and chronic headaches, particularly morning ones. In children, sleep apnea is closely linked with ADHD.

As you can see – it’s a deadly serious subject.

That’s the bad news over and the good news is that it’s really easy to fix – and it can be done fast. A simple oral appliance, worn at night and just like a sports gum-shield will fix the problem for you. It will stop you snoring immediately and even reverse some of the damage already done.

Snoring can’t be ignored – and it’s certainly not funny. If you snore – just ask your partner or your children because they are suffering too – because of you. Take a look at the choice of mouthpieces we have available – but don’t forget the coming offer. It’s a small amount to spend to save your life and as is the Custom, we’d like to make our contribution.

Join Snorevember – be healthier – and live much longer.

John Redfern

 

 


Sleep Apnoea: How dangerous is it?

Sleep apnoea is a deadly sleep disorder that gets worse as you grow older. Not only does sleep apnoea cause sleep deprivation, but worse still, it can pose danger to your life. Do any of the following apply to you?

Depositphotos_48099823_SleepPro

You’re always sleepy during the daytime. You often feel depressed. You wake up many times at night catching your breath. Your sleep is restless. You wake up with a sore or dry throat. Your loud snoring wakes up the household. You’ve become forgetful, your attention wanders, and you experience wide mood swings.

If you plead guilty to all or most of these, then you probably have the disorder obstructive sleep apnoea – called OSA.

There are many possible causes of these symptoms individually, but when several of them occur together, it’s possible you are experiencing “sleep apnoea.” Apnea is a Greek word meaning “without” (a-) and “spirit” (pnea) and this is exactly what’s happening while you sleep. You stop breathing anywhere from 10 seconds to minutes, possibly hundreds of times each night, or your breathing becomes abnormally shallow over a period of time.

Anyone can have OSA and according to recent statistics, millions of us who suffer from sleep apnoea are not even aware of it. The majority of those suffering are overweight and heavy snorers. Estimates say that there appear to be about 12 million North Americans and around 2 million British sufferers. It’s believed, as well, that 90 per cent of cases go totally undiagnosed either because they’re not reported, or because people don’t know they have it, so the actual number could be as many as 120 million in North America, and almost 20 million in Britain; well over one third of us and increasing.

Sleep apnoea is a serious disorder and needs remedy. Our cells need a constant supply of oxygen to stay alive. Our breathing apparatus provides that oxygen while removing carbon dioxide that can be lethal if it builds up.

In short, the problem with apnoea is that your body is being undersupplied with oxygen and oversupplied with carbon dioxide. This leaves one open to the possibility of serious health problems, including diabetes, liver function impairment, cardiovascular problems and various other illnesses.

Most cases of OSA occur because the upper part of your airway becomes obstructed. As you fall asleep, the muscle tone of the whole body tends to relax. Because the airway, the upper part of the pharynx, is composed of muscular walls, these can collapse, and so it’s not surprising that breathing can be obstructed during sleep.

Chronic cases of OSA are treated by a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. It’s a device that maintains steady air pressure, a hose and a mask. It may take a while to get used to this machine, but they are vital for reducing the symptoms of sleep apnoea for those in severe distress.

CPAP however has some drawbacks, and for those who can’t tolerate it there are alternatives, and oral appliances are recommended as it is seen as better to have some treatment rather than none.

Certain oral appliances are now medically recommended to treat the many mild to moderate sufferers who form the majority. The most widely used one is the MAD (mandibular advancement device); it’s very much like a sports mouth guard. It works by forcing the lower jaw slightly forward and down, which keeps open the airway.

Bespoke versions such as SleepPro Custom are available to fit your jaw exactly and comfortably and will not only stop OSA from happening, but when used repair much of the previous damage. Recent tests conducted by Papworth Hospital, who are England’s leading specialist Hospital in these matters, has recommended the SleepPro Custom be used as the leading device by mild and moderate sufferers.

Whatever you do when you become aware of the symptoms of sleep apnoea, DO SOMETHING. As mentioned earlier, this is a serious breathing disorder and can lead to some very unpleasant health consequences.

 

John Redfern

 


Falling asleep at the wheel is a worldwide problem

According to an article in last week’s Irish Times, sleep apnoea sufferers are more likely to fall asleep when they are driving. We’re always advised to take a break if we feel drowsy but a leading sleep disorders expert told a road safety conference that short rests should not be seen as a cure.

Bored man at the wheel of his car sleeping

 

A recent survey in Ireland showed that people who suffer from sleep apnoea, a condition in which breathing is disrupted during sleep, are seven times more likely to fall asleep while driving. With 146 people killed on the country’s roads so far this year – just one below the death toll in the same period last year – Irish motorists are being cautioned about the impact the condition and tiredness can have on the risk of collisions. The Road Safety Authority (RSA) revealed statistics on how lack of sleep can lead to deaths on the roads, with fatigue believed to be a factor in one- fifth of all collisions.

Prof Walter McNicholas, who is director of the pulmonary and sleep disorders unit at St Vincent’s University Hospital, said short rests should not be seen as a cure for tiredness, but as a temporary relief.

“Untreated sleep apnoea is associated with high levels of sleepiness, which makes driving incredibly dangerous,” he said. “When treated effectively, sleep apnoea is incredibly manageable, so awareness of the signs and early diagnosis is key.”

Prof McNicholas said evidence from research into the cause of road crashes shows, on average, a fifth to a quarter of all motorway crashes are due to excessive sleepiness. The RSA said a survey of driver attitudes and behaviour carried out last year showed that as many as one in 10 Irish motorists admitted they have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point.

In the same week, similar safety initiatives were launched in other countries.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) launched a new initiative to raise awareness of important health issues in the trucking industry, starting with obstructive sleep apnoea, and released the first in a series of health fact sheets for its members.

Developed in partnership with the Sleep Health Foundation, the first sheet focuses on sleep apnoea, a condition that affects as many as 40 per cent of Australia’s long distance truck drivers. The sheet outlines the symptoms, including fatigue and heavy snoring, and the steps drivers can take to diagnose and treat the condition.

Long distance drivers in the USA, or ‘Truckers’ as they are termed, have had to come to terms with strict new medical guidelines recently. If they are diagnosed with OSA, and the condition is properly treated with a suitable and approved oral appliance, then they may continue to drive. The present guidance suggests that compliance for treated OSA is that the driver be treated for at least four hours a night and for at least 70% of the time (seven out of 10 nights). Without this, the trucker will lose his licence.

Further to similar statements by Government Motoring Departments in other countries, the DVLA in Britain has made a statement that a greater awareness of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) could save lives and have underlined the fact that OSA is thought to cause as many as one-fifth of accidents on Britain’s motorways.

Approved oral appliances for mild to moderate OSA include British-made SleepPro Custom. The SleepPro Custom was recommended as the best oral appliance for sleep apnoea after stringent testing of a selection of oral appliances that were conducted in 2014 at Papworth Hospital, the leading UK Hospital and an authority for sleep disorders of this kind,

John Redfern


Snoring is in your genes – so If you snore – your children will

There’s bad news for any children whose parents constantly keep them awake at night snoring – they are very likely to follow in their parents’ footsteps and be noisy sleepers too.

Depositphotos_10841071_SleepPro

Children whose parents suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea – of which snoring is a major symptom – have a much higher chance of having the condition than children whose parents do not, according to new research from New Zealand which has found a genetic link. The co-researcher of the study Dr Angela Campbell said the consequences could be serious, so it was important problems were picked up early.

Obstructive sleep apnoea, often referred to as OSA, is a major sleep breathing disorder that occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat close off the airway during sleep. This can happen for various reasons but the main one is being overweight.

However, as well as keeping the family awake all night, sleep apnoea can affect a child’s learning at school by hindering their ability to retain information, making them more sleepy during the day and more prone to developing cardiovascular issues such as hypertension later in life.

The study involved asking children whose parents had obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), and others whose parents were low risk, various questions about symptoms that related to snoring and sleep apnoea.

It found a significantly larger number of the children whose parents had sleep apnoea appeared to exhibit the related symptoms such as snoring, restlessness at night, breathing through the mouth, sweating in the night and hyperactivity during the day. The children whose parents had sleep apnoea were more likely to snore loudly and to have crowded or small airways.

Current estimates in New Zealand said about 20 per cent of adults had sleep apnoea. It was twice as common in men. Between 5 and 10 per cent of adults had severe sleep apnoea. Most were overweight.

Factors that contributed to sleep apnoea included facial structure, which could be genetic, and being overweight.

NZ Respiratory and Sleep Institute clinical director Dr Andrew Veale said it was not surprising there was a link between parents who had sleep apnoea and their children because certain bone structures and tongue sizes made it more likely. He said it was effectively treated in children by removing their tonsils.

Traditional treatment for adults meant the use of a system called CPAP, (continuous patient airway pressure) which is simply a pump by the bedside that forces a constant flow of air via a facemask throughout the night. This system was unpopular method for many reasons including dry mouth, noise, and even claustrophobia.

This is now only recommended for absolutely chronic sufferers.

The current approved method that is recommended for mild to moderate sufferers is a specially fitted mouthpiece called a splint. These are made bespoke for the patient’s mouth and done by using a mould that you bite into when warmed in water. It’s easy to wear and works simply to solve this major health risk. The splint moves the bottom jaw forward slightly, opening the throat so that air flows constantly and there are no more interruptions to breathing – and as a result – no snoring either.

Not only will it prevent sleep apnoea, but also there are many indications that it any previous harm is repaired.

Medical recommendations include weight loss and using a splint to stop snoring for all mild to moderate OSA sufferers.

By John Redfern