Lack of sleep makes you put on weight and that makes you snore

In fact it’s a vicious circle because if you snore you will suffer from disturbed sleep causing further weight gain that will make your snoring worse. Don’t forget the disturbed night that it causes for your partner with the same result. The two-pronged solution is to stop snoring and also control your weight.

Woman (age 30-40) suffers from her partner (age 35 - 45) snoring in bed. Couple lifestyle and people health care concept. Real people copy space

It seems simple but having the right amount of quality sleep is important – in fact it’s vital. A simple thing – but there can be complex problems as a result.

New findings published by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey add to the growing body of evidence that shows just how important a good night’s sleep is to health. Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to the new study.

The findings showed that people who were sleeping an average of only six hours a night had a waist measurement that was 3 cm greater than that of individuals who were getting nine hours of sleep a night. In addition, shorter sleepers were also heavier as well.

The study involved 1,615 adults who reported how long they slept and kept records of food intake. Participants had blood samples taken and their weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure recorded. The researchers looked at the associations between how long people were sleeping and these key biological parameters.

The results strengthen the evidence that insufficient sleep could contribute to the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes – just one of the major health challenges facing the NHS in Britain and also other countries.

The study was led by Dr Laura Hardie, Reader in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Leeds – not only looked at the links between sleep duration, diet and weight, but also other indicators of overall metabolic health such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid function.

The Leeds researcher said: “The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980. Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health.”

Snoring is a key factor in all these situations as far as health is concerned, and it has also been proved that it is closely related to a much higher risk of cardio-vascular problems such as strokes and heart attacks.

Shorter sleep was also linked to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in the participants’ blood and this is another factor that can cause health problems. HDL cholesterol is ‘good’ cholesterol that helps remove ‘bad’ fat from the circulation. In doing so, high HDL cholesterol levels protect against conditions such as heart disease and snoring disrupts its development.

Interestingly, the study did not find any relationship between shortened sleep and a less healthy diet – a fact that surprised the researchers. Other previous studies have suggested that shortened sleep can lead to poor dietary choices and excessive snacking.

The research was a snapshot of the associations between sleep duration and measurements of metabolic health. It was not designed to assess the impact of chronic poor sleep over time, and whether that leads to disease but other reports have assessed this and proved the relationship.

Dr Laura Hardie, the study’s senior investigator, added: “Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep. How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults.”

Stopping snoring is a key factor in maintaining good health and it’s both easy and important to prevent the problem. Simple inexpensive oral appliances, worn during sleep, prevent snoring in almost all cases. SleepPro oral appliances have been tested by the NHS in Britain and are strongly recommended by the NHS as first recommendation to all patients who suffer from snoring or the more dangerous problem of obstructive sleep apnoea.

John Redfern


FACT: Snorers are much more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia

People who snore are at far greater risk of developing dementia later in life, researchers have said, and, this being regarded as an important medical breakthrough. It is seen as so important that it has been widely reported in the main consumer press, even hitting the front page in some cases.

Depositphotos_11880967_sleeppro

Scientists at Harvard University have found that disorders such as snoring and sleep apnoea that disrupt sleep are linked to greater cognitive decline, Breathing disorders which disrupt sleep have been proved to result in memory loss and a reduced attention span.

Recent figures from the Alzheimer’s Association estimate that obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) occurs in an estimated 3 in 10 men and 1 in 5 women.

Study author Dr Susan Redline from Harvard University, said: ‘Given the lack of known effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, our results support the potential for sleep-disordered breathing screening and treatment as part of a strategy to reduce dementia risk.’

The Harvard University researchers analysed 1,752 people with an average age of 68 and the study’s participants took part in a sleep study, completed a sleep questionnaire and had their mental function assessed.

So-called sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) was defined as having more than 15 stopped or shallow breaths per hour, as well as loud snoring and participants were diagnosed with sleep apnoea if they had more than five stopped or shallow breaths per hour, as well as self-reporting sleepiness.

People were also identified as being at-risk of Alzheimer’s if they carried a certain variation of a gene known as APOE, which carries cholesterol and supports brain injury repair in healthy people. Previous studies have already demonstrated one-fifth of the population who carry the APOE genetic variation are at an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Adequate quality sleep levels are worsening worldwide and this heightens the risk for both Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia in later years. For example The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that more than one third of American adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis.

“Clearly this is not good for brain health or overall health,” said Dean M. Hartley, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association Director of Science Initiatives. “Sleep disordered breathing is treatable in many cases. Through early diagnosis and effective treatment of these sleep disorders, there is the potential to improve cognition and possibly reduce dementia risk.”

Early treatment to prevent snoring or any other more severe form of sleep-disordered breathing is advised by all the relevant medical and professional bodies involved in the research programmes mentioned. The evidence was that treatment reduces the risk significantly.

Most people are unaware if they snore or gasp for air due to the disturbed sleep caused by OSA, unless their partners have noted it, which in most cases is what happens. If you’re unsure then you should contact your Doctor or a Hospital Sleep Centre for testing and further advice.

Critical cases of OSA would likely need to use CPAP, but medically approved oral appliances have shown in tests to be highly successful in preventing both snoring, and mild to moderate cases of sleep apnoea.

These are simple to obtain and comfortable to wear, particularly if they are custom-fitted versions, and they are available at highly affordable prices without prescription. Millions of people worldwide already use them to prevent snoring and the case to use them is now even more important based on this new information.

John Redfern

Sources:
Alzheimer’s Association Press Release
American Thoracic Society Press Release


Beauty sleep is a very real thing

According to new research reported by the BBC this week, beauty sleep is a real thing according to Swedish researchers at the Karolinka Institute, and a lack of it is a serious problem to both your looks and your health.

Young woman sleeping at night in bed

This new work has clearly shown that people who miss out on sleep appear far less attractive to others. Their sleep experiments suggest that a couple of bad nights can be enough to make a person look “significantly” more ugly to people who don’t know them.

The results published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal showed that people who had tired faces, were rated by strangers as less healthy and less approachable, and having dark circles under the eyes, and puffy lids, can even put others off socialising with you.

The research was based on student volunteers who were sent home with a small monitor to wear that would measure their movements whilst asleep to check that they had not cheated and slept when they should not have.

They were asked to get a good night’s sleep for two consecutive nights and then a week later, they were asked to restrict themselves to only four hours sleep per night for two nights in a row. The researchers took make-up free photos of the volunteers after both the good and the bad sleep sessions.

A further panel of women and men living in Sweden’s capital city of Stockholm looked at the photos and rated them on attractiveness, health, sleepiness and trustworthiness, as well as asking them: “How much would you like to socialise with this person in the picture?”

Those who looked tired in the photographs were easily identified and their scores for attractiveness suffered. In addition those looking at the photographs said that they would be less willing to socialise with the tired students, who were also perceived to be much less healthy.

We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep but how much sleep an individual takes and actually needs can vary greatly. Leonardo Da Vinci, Edison, Napoleon and Margaret Thatcher all survived on less than four hours a night but many of us aren’t getting enough shut-eye to function properly.

A good night’s sleep is also very important to one’s overall health but people think little about it until they cannot do it.

Along with the physical changes that happen to all of us as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns may also occur. As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age, but our sleep needs remain constant throughout life.

Snoring, a condition that gets worse with age is the primary cause of sleep disruption for many adults and is most commonly associated with persons who are overweight. In addition, older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep.

Loud snoring is particularly serious as it can be a symptom of sleep apnoea. In sleep apnoea, breathing stops and the amount of oxygen in the blood drops. This alerts the brain, causing you to wake-up and resume breathing. These stoppages of breathing can occur repeatedly, causing multiple sleep disruptions throughout the night and result in excessive daytime sleepiness and impaired daytime function.

Untreated, sleep apnoea puts a person at risk for cardiovascular disease, headaches, memory loss and depression. If you experience snoring on a regular basis and it can be heard from another room or you have been told you stop breathing during your sleep, these are signs that you might have sleep apnoea and it should be discussed with your medical advisor.

Sleep studies are prone to concluding that we’re all sleep-deprived. In fact, scientists aren’t really sure of the exact amount of sleep required, and studies find that the requirement varies significantly from one person to another, for reasons not fully understood.

One thing is sure however – you’ll certainly know if you’ve had enough quality sleep and whether you feel bright and refreshed the next day. It’s easy to do things to improve it such as preventing snoring. That’s something both you and your partner will both benefit from and you’ll feel the difference quickly.

Make sure you play the part of Beauty and not that of the Beast.

John Redfern


Why Brits Are The Most Restless Sleepers (Infographic)

Having trouble sleeping? Restless nights? Wondering why you're constantly feeling tired and fatigued?

There are a number of possible factors that are stopping so many brits from getting a consistent and comfortable rest at night, but why are so many of us struggling?

As mentioned in our previous post, 80% of loud snorers who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it and this figure is only likely to increase as the condition is often overlooked and misdiagnosed by our GP's.

Not sure what sleep apnea is? You can get the full details here.

With that said, sleep apnea doesn't account for every UK resident, but simple factors such as the environment in which we sleep or the quality of our mattresses play a huge role in our sleeping process.

Therefore, we decided to dig deep and put together a visual regarding sleep problems in the uk and what exactly is causing restless and sleepless nights for so many of us...

sleep apnea problems uk

One third of us are said to suffer from Bruxism – but what is it?

One third of us are said to suffer from Bruxism – but what is it?

Bruxism is the habit of clenching, gnashing or grinding your teeth. Your teeth are not meant to be clenched and in contact all the time; they should only briefly touch each other when you swallow or chew.

When happening during sleep, bruxism is considered as a sleep-related disorder, and people who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnoea.

If teeth are in contact too often or too forcefully, it can wear down the tooth enamel, which is the outer layer that covers each tooth. Without this to protect the inner parts of your teeth, you may develop dental problems. Clenching or grinding your teeth regularly can also lead to pain in the jaw or in the muscles of the face. Bruxism mostly happens during sleep, but some people also suffer from this when awake.

Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.

Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Jaw or face pain or soreness
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Pain that feels like an earache,
  • Dull headache originating in the temples
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek

We don’t completely understand what causes bruxism but possible physical or psychological causes may include an incredibly wide range of factors including tension, stress, sleep apnoea, abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth, stomach acid reflux, Response to pain from an earache, and even complications resulting from a disorder such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

In most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to damage to your teeth, restorations, crowns or jaw, headaches, facial pain and disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth.

In many cases, treatment isn’t necessary. Many kids outgrow bruxism without treatment, and many adults don’t grind or clench their teeth badly enough to require therapy. However, if the problem is severe, treatment options include certain dental approaches, therapies and medications.

If you have bruxism, your doctor or dentist may suggest ways to preserve or improve your teeth that will prevent or correct the wear to your teeth.

The principal recommendation will be a Splint or a Mouth Guards. These are designed to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding and are constructed of acrylic or soft materials and fit over your upper or lower teeth.

Correcting teeth that aren’t properly aligned may help if your bruxism seems to be related to dental problems. In severe cases when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns. In certain cases, your dentist may recommend braces or oral surgery.

It’s important to protect your teeth and prevent the problem worsening as soon as possible and splints are an inexpensive way of doing so. For under £15 you can purchase a splint that will shape to your dental profile using the ‘boil and bite’ method. For a little more money you can have made a custom-fitted version that fits just your upper set, or by special request the lower set, dependent on which is required. Both types are worn at night.

Either type will protect your teeth from further damage and help you sleep better. Many sufferers start with the ‘instant splint’ and then move on to the custom night guard for longer-term protection.

John Redfern


There is further proof that snoring damages the body and can kill you.

New evidence has been found which says that snoring can cause you to have a stroke as well as leading to a higher risk of bronchitis

  • The vibration from regular snoring causes damage and inflammation to the throat
  • This increases the risk of artherosclerosis and the chances of a stroke
  • It is considered as a factor in the development of chronic bronchitis

SleepPro Stop Snoring Products

Snoring can be infuriating if you are on the receiving end. But next time you feel forced to kick your partner out of bed for keeping you up all night, or take refuge in the spare room, bear in mind that anything more than an occasional snore could be a sign that they need medical help as it may have very serious negative health consequences.

Snoring always ranks as one of the most annoying habits with couples and it can affect you personally even if you don’t actually do it yourself. If you have a partner who snores, then you may find yourself suffering from a lack of sleep because of it, and this can lead to a number of problems, including increasing your risk for all kinds of different diseases and conditions.

However a less well-known fact from new emerging scientific research is proving that snoring isn’t just bad for you because it disrupts your sleep… it may also be bad for you because of what it can do to your throat! Far from something to be brushed off, these nocturnal noises are rarely benign.

The constant vibration of habitual snoring causes damage and inflammation to the throat, and may be linked to thickening of the carotid arteries, which run up the sides of the neck supplying the head with blood.

Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, say that this increases the risk of artherosclerosis, which is the ‘furring’ of the insides of the blood vessels, and as a result it greatly increases the chances of stroke.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic interruptions in breathing. It has long been linked to heart disease and a range of other serious health problems.

The condition is thought to affect about five per cent of the world’s adult population to some degree, with 250,000 Britons suffering what is considered to be a severe form of it. However, almost half of the population are thought to be habitual snorers, without OSA, and similar figures exist for most other developed nations. Australian Health figures recently quoted it as being 44% with the figures for the USA even higher than the UK.

In the Henry Ford study, experts reviewed data for more than 900 patients, aged 18 to 50, who had been evaluated by the institution’s sleep centre. None of the volunteers suffered from OSA. They completed a survey regarding their snoring and had scans of their carotid arteries.

Compared to non-snorers, snorers were found to have significantly thicker arterial walls, an early sign of cardiovascular disease.

Surprisingly, those with high cholesterol, diabetes and those who smoked did not have thickened carotid arteries, leading the researchers to suggest that snoring was the biggest health concern for these people.

The same vibrations in the throat have been suggested as a factor in the development of chronic bronchitis, inflammation of lower airways accompanied by a persistent cough and the production of mucus or phlegm.

Analysis found that individuals who snored six to seven times per week were 68 per cent more likely to develop the condition. The association was strongest in individuals who were overweight, but smoking was not a factor.

There are stop snoring remedies available online to prevent the problem, and no prescription is needed, but the fact of the matter is that if you are a habitual snorer then you need to take action quickly. Don’t let snoring affect your health when it can be such an easy problem to fix!

John Redfern


Why is Snoring on the increase everywhere?

No one wants to be a snorer, and many are concerned that doing so will keep others awake at night. But new YouGov research in the UK reveals it’s now actually abnormal not to snore, after the age of forty at least.

Snoring is on the increase, Sleeppro has the answer

Overall 45% of people admit to being snorers. This ranges from 22% amongst 18-24 year olds to 55% amongst over 60s. Not only does the tendency to snore increase with age but also it is also more likely to do so if you are a man, as data shows that 51% of men snore compared to 40% of women.

The majority of couples over the age of 40 include a snorer. 55% of 40-59 year-olds say their partner snores, and 57% of those over-60. Among the group of men who were aged over 60, almost two-thirds were snorers.

In Australia, similar figures from the Sleep Health Foundation show that between 33 and 45 per cent of Aussies have poor sleep patterns that are often due to heavy snoring, and these lead to fatigue and irritability – putting them at risk of low productivity, damage to their mental health, unsafe driving and behavioural problems.

Director of the Sleep Health Foundation, Dr David Hillman said: “Just like obesity, smoking, drinking too much and not exercising enough, sleep problems cause real harm in our community.”

It’s getting worse in Australia too. The study found that the numbers of sleep problems among Australians are 5 to 10 per cent higher than when the Sleep Health Foundation published its last survey on sleep health in 2010.

What causes snoring?

Snoring is caused by the soft tissue in your head and neck vibrating as you breathe in during your sleep. The soft tissue it can affect includes nasal passages, the soft palate, the base of the tongue and the tonsils.

As you get your nightly rest, the airways in your neck and head relax and narrow, which increases the speed at which you breathe. This also changes the air pressure in your airways, which in turn causes the soft tissue to vibrate, causing the snoring sound. The vibrations that happen during snoring are thought to weaken blood vessels and muscles in the head and neck. This further reduces the ability of the airways to keep open, meaning snoring is likely to be more frequently and even louder.

Some people snore so loudly that it can be heard in the next room and wakes up other members of their household. Others snore every single night and are virtually unable to sleep without making a noise. However, some people snore very infrequently and it only affects them if they are suffering from a cold or flu.

Does anything make snoring worse?

There are certain factors that can make snoring even worse because they cause the airways to narrow even further when a person is asleep and one of the main factors is obesity. A person with a neck circumference more than 17 inches sees extra pressure applied on the airways. In addition, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is also known to cause the airway to narrow, which in turn increases the risk of snoring.

Meanwhile certain sedatives and anti-depressants have shown to have the same affect on the airwaves as smoking and alcohol. Common allergies can also exacerbate snoring as substances such as pollen can cause the nose to become blocked.

Is there a cure for the snoring?

Although snoring can be treated to improve the effects there is no complete cure – but it can be prevented and significantly lessened as a problem. There’s a great deal of information available online which helps but some people will go to see their GP when their snoring starts to affect their sleeping patterns or is causing major problems in their relationship. Although it may surprise you, it is well documented that snoring is the third most important cause of divorce. In its most dangerous form, snoring can be one of the main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea; something we’ve described in detail in our previous articles.

A chronic snorer should try changing their lifestyle first and lose weight, but there is also a range of medically approved anti-snoring devices available that help to minimise snoring, including mouth guards of various types that vary in type and cost to suit the individual and the degree of the problem.

John Redfern


What keeps us awake at night?

Wherever you live in the world, the media focus this week has been on sleep and the dangers when it is interrupted, but particularly if by snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. In this week’s article we’re taking a quick world tour to review what has been said and to see if it differs country by country.

Woman Awake In Bed Suffering With Insomnia

Snoring is noisy, and a real nuisance, and it can take many forms. However it is pri­mar­ily caused by vi­bra­tions of the soft palate and other tis­sue in the mouth, nose and throat that be­come par­tially blocked at night.

De­pend­ing on the lo­ca­tion of the block­age, you might be a nose snorer, a mouth snorer, a throat snorer, or even a tongue-base snorer where your tongue drops to the back of your throat at night, caus­ing an ob­struc­tion. But fortunately there’s an appliance available to prevent snoring in all its forms. As well as all the different types of oral appliances, the Chin support strap is popular and there are even small Nasal dilators – venting appliances that fit inside the nostrils to keep them clear and open at night when asleep.

Starting with the UK, a new survey revealed that most people wake up three times a night, and a worrying 11% wake-up between seven and 10 times.

Discomfort and back pains wake19% of us, whilst bad dreams or nightmares affect 11% of us and another 6% say they have experienced anxiety about bills and work which has kept them from a good night’s sleep. Seventeen per cent of us are disturbed by our partners and most complaints from this latter group are related to noisy snoring by their bedmate.

Snoring is dangerous if it’s obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which is one of a number of disorders that rob sufferers of recuperative sleep. If left untreated, it increases risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

In the Republic of Ireland another survey found that one-third of people ‘get less than six hours sleep a night’, and the IKEA-commissioned survey also reveals that almost half of couples sleep back-to-back. I wonder why?

The survey was carried out among 1,000 Irish adults, selected to represent a wide range of areas and social classes.  A partner’s snoring is very likely to impact on someone’s sleep. Almost half of all of those who regularly share a bed claimed a partner’s snoring impacts negatively on their sleep.

Australia has the same problem and the Herald Sun reported that the nation is in the grip of a sleep deprivation “epidemic” with experts calling for quality shut-eye to be prioritised as a health issue with obesity and smoking.

This new research by the Australian Sleep Health Foundation has revealed a third of people are making mistakes at work because they’re fatigued while 20 per cent have fallen asleep at the wheel. The research, published in Sleep Health Journal, shows that 33 to 45 per cent of Australian adults sleep poorly or not long enough most nights leaving them fatigued and irritable.

More than 10 per cent of Australians were found to be sleeping less than five-and-a-half hours a night.

The research showed 21 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women had fallen asleep at work. Worryingly it found that sleeping issues and daytime symptoms of fatigue had increased by up to 10 per cent since similar research was conducted in 2010. Nearly a third of adults drive while drowsy at least once a month and 20 per cent have nodded off at the wheel.

Lead researcher Professor Robert Adams said: “The important of sleep is underestimated. We’ve known for 20 or 30 years that sleep problems are as important to health as things like diet, exercise, avoiding smoking and avoiding drinking but as a society we haven’t really acted on that fact”.

In North America, the problem is king size like much of the available fast food, and weight problems are regarded as a major cause of snoring. It is estimated that almost 80 million people snore in the USA alone, and a further 30 million are kept from restful sleep by obstructive sleep apnoea.

Untreated, severe obstructive sleep apnoea more than doubles the risk of dying from heart disease, the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project warns in conjunction with American Heart Month in February.

According to the Project, there are five key warning signs and risk factors for sleep apnoea: snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, fatigue or daytime sleepiness, obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) and high blood pressure. Millions of people still ignore the facts and as a result remain untreated.

Wherever we are – we need to wake up to the problem – but do so in a different way to the way we are doing it now.

John Redfern


Do you ever wake up with sore teeth and a headache?

If so you could be grinding your teeth. Clenching and grinding, also know as bruxism, is often caused by stress and in many cases, although not all, it happens during the night while a person is asleep. It can cause severe damage to your teeth, jaw pain, earache and headaches.

SleepPro Night Guard

The problem is controlled by the muscles in your cheek that also happen to be incredibly powerful and can exert up to a massive 600 pounds of force per square inch in the back of your mouth, near the molars. So as you can imagine, this strong muscle can have a serious impact on your teeth.

As many as one in 10 people experience teeth grinding on a daily basis, with the condition being most at its peak between the ages of 25 and 44, and on top of this, many others do it periodically. Because it often occurs during sleep, most people are totally unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or a tender painful jaw is a definite symptom of bruxism.

Just like snoring or sleep apnoea, people often first learn that they grind their teeth from their partner who hears the grinding at night, although the most reliable way to diagnose bruxism is during a sleep study. It is often also associated with other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea and you may suffer from both.

In addition to being detrimental to oral and dental health, the noise from bruxism is often disturbing for others. It can lead to headaches, jaw pain and daytime tiredness caused by the disruption to normal sleep brain-rhythms.

If left undetected, dental damage will usually occur, leading to tooth loss and gum disease. In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening or even loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures and even complete dentures may be needed as a result.

Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaw and jaw joints, result in earache, cause or worsen jaw joint disease (TMJ), and even change the appearance of your face.

Bruxism frequently occurs due to psychological factors including anxiety, stress and emotional problems. However it can be caused by a variety of other medical disorders (neurological and psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and as a side-effect of medications). Bruxism can occur at any age, is often noted in children and adults, and there are no significant differences in bruxism rates between males and females.

Patients with bruxism usually experience cycles of improvement and worsening in their symptoms over time and although complex sleep testing in a clinic is not essential to diagnose sleep bruxism, a simpler form of sleep study is often very helpful to assess whether the bruxism is associated with another sleep or movement disorder such as sleep apnoea, restless legs syndrome, or periodic limb movement disorder.

In many cases, your oral healthcare provider can provide you with an occlusal appliance, like a sports mouth guard, to be worn at night in order to protect your teeth from damage, and these occur in several forms.

One of the most common ways to protect your teeth from wearing down and even fracturing due to constant grinding and clenching, and reduce the subsequent pain, is to wear an ‘occlusal appliance’ which is simply a name for a protective night guard.

These are normally custom-made so that they fit perfectly over either your top or your bottom teeth. Simpler versions also occur that are suitable for milder, infrequent episodes of bruxism. Both are quite inexpensive and the custom-made version comes in several helpful options to suit you.

Other more advanced mouthpieces, called mandibular advancement devices, or MAD’s, are also regularly used to stop teeth grinding.

However, these are most commonly used when a sleep disorder like sleep apnoea is the most likely cause. They’re also bespoke made specifically to fit your jaw and are usually worn over both the top and the bottom teeth. The purpose of this is to bring your bottom jaw forward and this keeps the airway open, preventing snoring and episodes of sleep apnoea, as well as stopping you grinding your teeth.

John Redfern

 


Obstructive Sleep Apnoea WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ill man sitting on his bed

What is OSA?

Obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA, is a dangerous sleep disorder that makes patients stop breathing repeatedly. So if you snore heavily, or have severely disturbed sleep where you gasp for air, then don’t ignore it because it will get worse and not go away. Lots of cases go undiagnosed because many people simply aren’t aware they have OSA, although their partners will be.

 Anyone with OSA has repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat when sleeping. This blockage of the pharynx or upper airway often causes heavy snoring as well. These airway obstructions will cause you to stop breathing for a period of 10 seconds up to a minute or more, and blood oxygen levels fall as a result.

Sleep will then be briefly interrupted for as little as 3 seconds and this allows breathing to start again, but with a disruption to your sleep. This can happen hundreds of times a night in the worst cases but you may not know. Most cases of OSA go untreated and it may be your partner who is more aware of your problem than yourself.

What are the key symptoms of OSA?

You will probably toss and turn a great deal as you have these episodes where your breathing stops. In addition, you may find yourself waking up often during the night, sometimes gasping or choking, although this does not always happen. However, even if there are few awakenings overnight, your sleep is disturbed and will not be refreshing because of this. As the day goes on, you may struggle to stay awake, especially in the afternoon. Grumpiness and other mood changes are common in untreated OSA.

Your OSA affects other people too

Snoring can keep a bed partner awake and sometimes people in other parts of the house. Some partners even try to stay awake to make sure that the person with OSA starts breathing again after a breathing pause. It worries them greatly when breathing stops. Lack of sleep may also make people who are living with a person with OSA more grumpy and irritable as well as the individual themselves. OSA is a problem for the whole family.

Should you worry if you have symptoms of OSA

There is strong evidence that people with untreated moderate to severe OSA have other health problems. If you have OSA, you are more likely to have high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease than someone without it. Each time you stop breathing, your blood pressure may go up and over time, this may also contribute to high blood pressure during the day (hypertension). There is also real evidence that having OSA, particularly if it is severe it may increase the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke or depression. Treating sleep apnoea may reduce these risks considerably.

How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?

Signs and symptoms such as snoring, obesity, observed breathing pauses and sleepiness during the day might suggest that a person has OSA. The best way to be really sure is by having a simple sleep study and this can easily be done at home. This measures sleep, breathing and oxygen levels.

How is obstructive sleep apnea treated?

For people with a very mild level of OSA, and few symptoms, losing weight, decreasing the amount of alcohol consumed in the evening or adjusting the sleeping position may be all that is needed. Most people have more OSA episodes sleeping on their backs. Using a simple oral appliance to stop snoring and keep the airway open will help.

However, for those with moderate or severe OSA, much more active treatment is often required. This is particularly so if daytime tiredness is present or there is a background of heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure that has been difficult to control. The two most commonly used treatments for moderate to severe OSA are continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) where a mask attached to an oxygen supply is worn all night, or using a medically approved bespoke oral appliance.

Many people find CPAP difficult and uncomfortable to use, and in those cases the medical advice is to use a mouthpiece instead rather than not have preventative treatment of any form at all. The mouthpiece is designed to move the lower jaw forward which helps to keep the airway open. This mandibular advancement device fits over both the upper and lower teeth and these devices are being used more and more for the treatment of snoring and mild to moderate forms of sleep apnea.

The important thing, having identified the problem, is treating it without delay.

 

John Redfern