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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Redfern