Research proves that you can’t be both ‘Fat’ and ‘Fit’

The new research was announced first at the European Congress on Obesity that took place last week in Portugal. The idea that people can be fat, but medically fit, is a myth, say those involved. Their early work, which is as yet unpublished, involved looking at the GP records of 3.5 million people in the UK for the 20 years from 1995 to 2015, but applies worldwide.
The term “fat but fit” refers to the theory that if people are obese, but all their other metabolic factors such as blood pressure and blood sugar are within recommended limits, then the extra weight will not be harmful.

Young Woman Measuring Her Waist

They tracked people who were obese at the start of the study (defined as people with a body mass index of 30 or more) who had no evidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes at this point.

They found these people who were obese but “metabolically healthy” were at higher risk of developing heart disease, strokes and heart failure than people of normal weight.

Dr Mike Knapton, from the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s not often that research on this scale and magnitude is able to clarify an age-old myth.

“These findings should be taken extremely seriously and I’d urge healthcare professionals to take heed.”

“What was new from this study for me is that it showed that people who were overweight or obese were at increased risk of heart disease even though they may have been healthy in every other respect.

“Just being overweight puts you at increased risk of heart attack and stroke.”

According to the British Heart Foundation, the normal heart health advice applies – not smoking, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol intake – can all help keep people healthy. However other studies have suggested that is not always the amount of fat that matters but where the excess fat is carried on the body that can affect fitness and health. For example, weight around the middle may be more damaging than weight distributed evenly around the body.

Being overweight can exacerbate an existing milder snoring problem, because one of the primary causes of the turbulence in the throat is the narrowing of the airway due to neck fat. Losing weight can help alleviate the problem by reducing fat in the neck and helping to open the airway.

Technically, snoring is the sound of air turbulence in the back of the throat caused by a narrowing of the airway, and the sound of someone snoring is really the sound of someone who is having difficulty in breathing. The most frequent myth about snoring is that it is harmless or even humorous. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is widely recognised that snoring is a sign of a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder if not prevented or controlled. It also causes ‘snacking’ which is associated with sleep disorders generally.

Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone, although it occurs more frequently in men and people who are overweight and because of this it has a tendency to worsen with age.

When trying to locate the cause or causes for your snoring, you need to be methodical because without identifying where the source of the problem lies, it may prove difficult to cure. The first thing to consider is body fat, as obese people are very likely to snore. In short, men are more prone to putting on fat in the neck area than women; fat which squashes the throat, leaving less room to breathe.

Products are readily available to open the airway. The C-PAP machine is one of the most recognizable treatments, and is used to prevent both snoring, and sleep apnoea.

It’s easier though to purchase and use an appliance that uses a method called boil-and-bite and shapes it to your dental profile, and SleepPro have a range of these that are both inexpensive and simple to use. You bite into it as you do a sports mouth guard and it keeps the jaw in a stable position.

Other options include custom-fitted mouthpieces provided by dentists, but these are very expensive, and the same custom-fitted alternatives can be bought online for much less. They are equally effective and have been thoroughly tested by the NHS who list the range of UK made SleepPro products as their top recommendation, and even issue them to patients.

Losing weight is the ideal answer but in the meantime help is available this way, and together they offer a great joint solution.

John Redfern


The problems faced by couples due to snoring

Snoring is a huge problem that results in one in three couples in the UK now opting to sleep apart to get a better night’s sleep. Do you find it hard to get a good night’s sleep because there is someone snoring alongside you? Millions of couples worldwide are familiar with this situation and suffer from disturbed sleep. In some cases, both partners in the relationship are snorers.

Depositphotos_22187801_sleeppro

While we sleep our bodies are hard at work recharging and optimising our body’s functions. A recent study found that those who slept less than seven hours a night on average were three times more likely to get sick and suffer major health issues than those who averaged at least eight hours.

A recent study has shown that 41.5% of the British adult population snores at some time or other in their week. So most likely, even if you don’t snore, your partner does, and sometimes both of you have the problem. As such, more than 30 million people have a regular and ongoing problem with snoring and usually, men snore much louder than women.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 90 million Americans snore, 37 million on a regular basis. While all ages and genders snore, twice as many men than women snore nearly every night and most of them go through life undiagnosed. If you have trouble sleeping at night, it could be more than just a noisy disturbing inconvenience. In fact, you could be suffering from a serious medical condition called sleep apnea.

The reasons why we snore are pretty straightforward. When you fall asleep the muscles in your neck and throat relax. They then go floppy and the airways narrow, meaning there is less space for the air to go through. The soft tissue in this smaller space vibrates and rattles as the air passes through.

Snoring is also a symptom of sleep apnea which results in dangerous oxygen deprivation, as the sleeper’s airway becomes blocked, and deprives the brain of oxygen, As result it is unable to reach the cells and tissues, and dangerous conditions occur due to low oxygen over a long period.

If this is an issue for you, then there is a kinder, and more effective solution than kicking the person next to you and waking them up, or moving out. After all, that’s pretty counterproductive, and one of the main reasons why snoring is listed as the third most important factor that contributes to divorce. The medically recommended solution also makes quitting the marital bedroom to get some sleep something that is no longer necessary.

NHS Choices clearly gives the following information on their website:

‘If your snoring is mainly due to the base of your tongue vibrating, a mandibular advancement device (MAD) may be recommended.

It’s designed to push your jaw and tongue forward. This increases the space at the back of your throat and reduces the narrowing of your airway that’s causing your tongue to vibrate, resulting in snoring.

You can buy a MAD for around £30-50, which is suitable for most cases of simple snoring (snoring that doesn’t cause any breathing difficulties).

However, if your snoring is associated with breathing difficulties, such as obstructive sleep apnoea, it’s recommended that you have a MAD made specifically for you by a specialist using impressions of your teeth and jaw.

The cost of a custom-made MAD will depend on the complexity of the device and materials used, and can range from several hundred pounds to several thousand pounds. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to obtain a custom-made MAD free of charge on the NHS.

An MAD lasts about 18 months before it needs to be replaced.’

Source: NHS Choices

Following an extensive testing programme, the NHS published their findings in The Lancet and recommended SleepPro oral appliances as their number one selection to prevent snoring, along with mild to moderate sleep apnoea. Many patients acquire SleepPro products online after consulting their Hospital or Sleep Centre where special literature is made available that describes the product range available and they can arrange special prices.

These are all problems that couples who snore may have to cope with later in life when they should be relaxing, enjoying life, and ticking off their bucket list but it’s never too late to take action.

Peace will return to the bedroom and your relationship will be the winner.

John Redfern


Poor Quality Sleep is costing Business time and money

Employees’ sleep problems are probably costing British business a great deal of time and money as poor-quality sleep can affect workers’ mood and judgment and it can also result in serious health problems. Ask yourself if you lost a day or two of work last year because of poor-quality sleep the night before? If that’s the case you’re far from alone, according to new results from the World Sleep Survey.

Tired office worker suffering from poor quality sleep

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford found that full-time employees lose an average of seven days of work per year due to poor-quality sleep and those who report that their sleep is of “less than average” quality lose more than 13 days. More than 20,000 people participated in the survey. The financial cost of that to the UK is huge.

Earlier research from 2011 prompted employers to take a closer look at sleep. Researchers from Harvard University had interviewed more than 7,000 people by phone, and found that insomnia/poor quality sleep results in the loss of 11 days of work per year. As a nation, that represented a total loss of $63.2 billion.

Poor-quality sleep can result can affect mood and judgment, and result in serious health problems. In the USA, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared insufficient sleep a “public health epidemic,” with some 18 million people in the U.S. reporting that sleep troubles impacted their job performance.

Sleep experts are not surprised that exhausted employees are skipping work. When you don’t sleep well, you’ll experience a serious degree of cognitive impairment. Some people simply don’t allot enough time for a good night’s rest; others aren’t able to sleep well due to medical conditions, like insomnia or sleep apnoea.

For those who have persistent sleep troubles, it is recommended that they either pay a visit to a doctor or if they persistently snore heavily, or at least try using an oral appliance to reduce the problem and prevent it. Some 72% of those who participated in the World Sleep Survey said they had not consulted a physician about their sleep troubles.

People who average less than seven hours sleep per night are at increased risk of problems, such as high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. This occurs even in people who don’t feel tired during the day. Others may have sleep apnoea but be totally unaware although their partner may realise by identifying the symptoms of heavy snoring, appearing to wake often throughout the night and gasping for breath.

Figures published by the AA attribute as many as 20% of accidents, many involving death, to poor quality sleep by a driver who then dozes at the wheel.

It is now more widely accepted as a major problem and some companies are trying to help their employees become more aware of the difficulties it causes. Historically, employer wellness programs have focused on fitness and healthy eating. But that’s now beginning to change.

Some companies are developing programs to assess and treat employees with sleep apnoea, a common disorder that disrupts sleep and often goes undiagnosed. More than 5% of UK male adults have sleep apnoea and there are lower but increasing figures for women, often due to weight gain. The real figures may be even higher as most cases are undiagnosed.

Large US companies, like Google and Goldman Sachs, have brought in sleep experts to disseminate information about sleep disorders. Johnson & Johnson offers its employees a digital coaching program that is designed to reduce insomnia, and involves relaxation videos. Corporate wellness companies even offer coaches to teach employees about healthy habits for getting a good night’s rest.

One of the key recommendations for improving sleep by stopping heavy snoring, and controlling sleep apnoea, is by the use of a medically approved mouthpiece that is worn at night, and is much like a sports gumshield that we are all familiar with. In this case it protects in a different way by moving the jaw forward slightly, and in doing so it keeps the throat open so that breathing continues normally. Results from the specialist NHS sleep researchers at Papworth Hospital tested a selection of typical oral appliances, and based on the results recommended SleepPro Custom as the first mouthpiece to use to prevent snoring and control sleep apnoea.

The subsequent result of using these simple and inexpensive oral appliances will improve worker efficiency and safety in many ways, as well as improving their attendance record, and benefit their general well-being both in the long and the short term.

 

John Redfern


Sleep disorders vary regionally – and so does support and diagnosis

Recent research carried out by the British Lung Foundation, in conjunction with both Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, has highlighted that the provision of services to diagnose obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA, varies a great deal across the UK, and it doesn’t match the worst areas for the problem.

OSA is linked to serious ill health, and the figures for the problem have continued to rise steeply across the last few years. This is partly due to the higher numbers of the population reaching middle age, at which time OSA becomes much more prevalent, and also because of certain lifestyle factors. Increased weight is a major contributory factor in the problem, due to our vastly changed pattern of eating and drinking across the last decade.

The population’s average age and girth has increased, both of which are risk factors for obstructive sleep apnoea. These increases are forecast to continue.

Sleep Apnoea infographic

Disturbed unsatisfactory sleep

OSA is a condition that disrupts breathing during sleep, usually as a result of the muscles and soft tissues in the throat relaxing and collapsing to block the airway. This usually lasts for 10 or more seconds. It affects people of all ages, including up to 4% of middle-aged men, 2% of middle-aged women and 20% of those aged over 70. However, it is estimated that around 80% of cases remain undiagnosed. In real terms we estimate about four million people in the UK to be sufferers.

Although it’s relatively easy to treat OSA, when it is left undiagnosed and untreated, it has been closely linked with a range of serious health concerns including stroke, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure. More recently, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, and certain forms of cancer have also been related to it. OSA can also significantly affect one’s quality of life and ability to work, as well as increasing the chances of road accidents due to fatigue.

Regional differences

Wales, large parts of East Anglia, East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the North-East were found to be areas with the highest predicted rates of OSA. Larger urban areas in England and Scotland and the counties to the west of London were amongst the areas with the lowest predicted prevalence.

This pattern contrasted considerably with the availability of local sleep services for diagnosing and treating the condition, with large urban areas being better served despite the lower risk of OSA, and parts of mid-Wales, the North-West and East Anglia having much lower numbers of identified sleep centres, of which there are 289 in total, each one being required to serve an average of 1.25 million people.

Diagnosis of OSA

Professor Adrian Williams, Medical Advisor at the British Lung Foundation, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital, and co-author of the study says in a press statement: “Too often, a lack of awareness leads to the symptoms of OSA being not recognised or dismissed simply as an irritation for anyone who shares a room with someone affected. However, OSA can have a severe impact on quality of life and is associated with a range of serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression.

“In most cases, OSA is easily treatable in a way that can successfully minimise the associated risks.

Self-diagnosis is therefore often a key requirement for OSA, and fortunately, by using easily accessible NHS approved products, such as an oral appliance, or mouthpiece which keeps open the airway whilst sleeping, the majority of serious cases can be prevented and better health attained.

By John Redfern


Snoring can cause Women to put on weight

Lack of sleep affects food choices and if you don’t sleep well it can cause you to choose more high-calorie foods. So, not only does being overweight cause you to snore, it would appear that snoring causes you to gain weight too.

It’s obviously normal for a poor night’s sleep to affect you the next day and make you feel tired; if it’s a constant problem then it could have some wide-ranging effects on your health.

Several studies have suggested that a lack of sleep can increase the chance of weight gain and obesity. It may be that a lack of sleep affects hormones that help control our appetite, that people eat more calories to make up for the tiring effects of lost sleep, or that people who stay up late tend to sleep less overall and eat more calories during their extended waking hours.

Snoring and Weight gain

However, these are mostly theories, as few good-quality studies have explored the link between sleep, eating, and weight gain. To help fill this gap in what we know, researchers recruited 225 healthy, non-obese people (aged 22 to 50 years old) to live in a sleep laboratory for 12 to 18 days.

They randomly selected participants to have five nights of either:
Restricted sleep, with four hours in bed, from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., or
Unrestricted sleep, with 10 hours in bed, from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

During the day, people had regular meals and could also eat at other times, as food was always available in the kitchen. What food they ate and their weight were closely monitored, so the researchers could compare the two groups to see whether restricted sleep increased the chance of weight gain.

What did we learn?
People who had restricted sleep consumed more calories than those who had unrestricted sleep.
All of the extra calories – around 550 per day on average – were from food consumed between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
When eating late at night, people also got more of their calories from higher fat foods than at other times of the day.
On average, people with restricted sleep gained nearly a kilo of weight, while those with unrestricted sleep gained only one-tenth of a kilogram.

How reliable is the research?
This was a good-quality study. However, it’s worth noting it only included people who were healthy, fairly young, and not obese. So it’s not clear whether these findings will definitely apply to other groups of people. Also, the participants weren’t able to exercise during the study and might not have had access to all the foods they usually ate. These things might have had an effect on the findings.

What does this mean for me?
It provides good evidence that restricted sleep can increase how many calories you eat and leads to weight gain, at least in the short term. If you tend to stay up late and/or get little sleep, it may be especially pertinent to you as after 10 p.m. was when people typically got their extra calories, rather than during the day.

By John Redfern


Snoring, sleep apnoea, and sleep loss in women

Snoring, and sleep apnoea in particular, were both generally considered to be conditions predominantly affecting men but we now know this not to be the case, with the ration of men to women estimated at approximately 2:1. Since sleep apnoea is mainly a problem that is self-reported , men were more likely to seek help for this and heavy snoring, even if prompted to do so by their partner.

Approximately 50% of women snorers are believed not to report their symptoms to their GP, mostly due to being embarrassed. Some studies show that as many as 90% of more severe cases go undiagnosed in women, and women have a tendency not to report apnoea events, choking or restless sleep, whereas most men did report these matters.

Treatment however can be both simple and inexpensive and it can prevent major health problems in later life. Sufferers are often put off by the thought that the treatment most used historically was CPAP, where air is forced via a mask into the lungs throughout the whole night. More recent thinking is to recommend the use of an oral appliance for mild and moderate cases of sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnea in womenComparison showing Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP and an Oral Appliance (MAD)

The contrast is shown in the photography above where one patient is using a mask

for CPAP and the other an oral appliance – just distinguishable in the inset, with the result that this method is now much more appealing to those who suffer – both men and women. This treatment, although not quite so effective, works very well.

Snoring often results in a disturbed night and it is very common to hear a comment such as – “I barely slept last night. I just couldn’t get comfortable” – or – “I tried to fall asleep, but my mind kept racing.”

Sleep, and the lack of it, is a common talking point, and disturbed sleep generally is much more common in women than men. A woman’s experience of sleep loss is different and sometimes feminine factors are involved that may cause and maintain sleep difficulties. However, focusing on quality sleep is important to help prevent many aspects of both physical and mental health.

Disruption of sleep leads not only to daytime sleepiness, but memory lapses, weight gain, headaches, irritability and poor work performance overall. It can also contribute to psychological disorders such as depression and for the more severe cases, there’s an increased risk of high blood pressure, premature heart disease and stroke.

It’s not an area to neglect.

The best solution is an approach on several fronts including exercise, reduced alcohol consumption, healthy eating and treatment for the sleep apnoea or heavy snoring which will stop the snoring immediately whilst other things take time.

There are several treatment solutions including surgery, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure) a full-face mask which works by stopping the airways from collapsing, or a mandibular advancement device, like a sports mouth-guard, that holds the lower jaw slightly forward, making more space to breathe.

Many women now opt for the mouthpiece. It’s easy to wear, quite comfortable, non-claustrophobic unlike the mask, and doesn’t create dryness of the mouth, which CPAP has a tendency to do. Mouthpieces are easily acquired as they are non-prescription, but some are NHS Approved, which is preferable, and they will bring you immediate results.

SleepPro now have a special product in their range dedicated to women only – the only oral appliance technology company to do so.

By John Redfern


Massive increases recorded in the number of women who snore

Women in particular do not like to think they snore – there’s a stigma attached to it – yet they now account for 40 per cent of snorers,” says Dr Martin Allen, who is a consultant physician at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, and a spokesperson for the British Lung Foundation.

Snoring damages health

Previously considered by many to be a predominantly male domain, it is now women who account for almost half of the snoring problem in the UK. There is no denying that it is predominantly their changed lifestyle that has caused the problem, and again there is massive proof to support this. Latest figures show that women are seeking to resolve it however, and are dealing with it in a number of ways, dependent upon the problem’s severity.

Clinics are now advising 10 times more women snorers than 2 years ago – and the problem is conclusively a result of drinking, smoking, and weight gain. As well as the health problems previously mentioned, fatigue and irritability are also often a major result of having that disturbed night’s rest.

As we are all aware, stopping smoking is difficult, even in Stoptober, drinking tends to be an important part of all our social lives, and losing those extra pounds is harder work still, which can often necessitate lots of time and expense at the Gym in the early morning or after a busy day – which is not always convenient.

The majority of women snorers can stop snoring immediately through the use of a simple oral appliance that has previously been targeted at men alone; it’s fast, unobtrusive, and inexpensive. It’s a simple mouthpiece that helps to keep the airway open at night when asleep. No prescription is required and some products in the UK already have NHS Approval Status having been tried and tested for many years. It’s both fast and effective and it can stop your snoring whilst you’re working hard correcting those other lifestyle issues.

SleepPro are the leading British company in this field and their oral appliances are recommended by Clinics, Doctors, and Dentists throughout the world. As well as having full NHS Approval they have a recorded 98% success rate for product effectiveness, which at the end of the day is what counts most.

To meet this new and rising demand from women they have now taken it further and are the first to produce a specially produced mouthpiece for women that has now become available land was launched just this week.

Look for new SleepPro Woman – it’s pink, not the traditional male blue, and in the early sales period, there’s a pound donation from every sale going to support the vital research carried out by the Breast Cancer Campaign – appropriately named #wearitpink.

By John Redfern


Heavy Texting and Social Media are linked to Sleep Problems and poor performance for University students

I recently highlighted the high incidence of sleep disorders in adults, particularly women, and also wrote about the worrying problems that lack of sleep and snoring can cause in children – but what about young adults – particularly students going away from home for the first time?

Sleep deprivation has always been regarded as a major problem for those leaving home to go to College and University – as part of their transition to campus life. Now, a new study in the USA has identified another problem when it comes to students and sleep problems. In a word, it’s Texting.

Sleep Problems and poor performance

In a recent article it was reported that texting was a direct predictor of sleep problems among first-year students in a study that examined links between inter-personal stress, text messaging behaviour, and three indicators of college students’ health: burnout, sleep problems and emotional well-being.

Although the results of this study showed that the impact of texting on a student’s psychological well-being very much depended on the level of interpersonal stress they were already facing, more texting was associated with poorer sleep regardless of their previous level of stress.

The students in the study were all in their first year away from home and answered questions that measured academic and social burnout, emotional well-being, and sleep problems. They were also asked to estimate how many text messages they sent and received on an average day.

The study’s findings on sleep were especially significant given the well-documented compromises in sleep that students experience throughout their time in higher education, but especially in the first year. Several recent studies have shown that 70 per cent of college students receive less than the eight recommended hours of sleep. A recent survey concluded that “Only 40 per cent of students feel rested on two days of the week”.

To assess the students’ sleep quality, a ‘Sleep Quality Index’ was used to fit the college sample. It measured multiple aspects of sleep quality such as sleep duration, the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, the amount of time actually spent sleeping while in bed, night-time disturbances, and any daytime sleepiness.

The key finding was that the higher the number of daily texts – the higher the index of the student’s sleep problems. It is worth noting that this finding reinforces previous evidence pointing to a direct association between the use of mobile phones and poor sleep in adolescents and emerging adults.

Among the possible causes for this connection are two tendencies: students’ feeling pressured to respond immediately to texts, no matter what time of day or night, and students’ sleeping with the phone nearby, thus being awakened by the alerts from incoming texts. Initial conclusions are that heavy text messaging could be problematic during times of stress. Although speculative, it could be argued that texting is a uniquely unsuitable mode of communication for coping with interpersonal stress in close relationships.”

For instance, it is suggested that the abbreviated language that is common in texting — so-called “textese” — lacks the ability to provide the kind of nuance that is important in discussing sensitive issues. In addition, texting fails to offer critical non-verbal indications and hints that would be part of a face-to-face conversation. The Report stated that:

“Text messaging may carry a high risk of producing misunderstandings and unproductive interactions during periods of stress. When interpersonal stress involves conflict, the conditions required for productive communication may be particularly difficult to achieve through texting.”

To put it simply, as well as distracting students from restful sleep, leaving them tired the next day, texts can very easily be misunderstood, and cause more problems than they solve in a conversation.

Texting, Social Networking and other Media use has also been linked to poor academic performance in a US Report which says the widespread use of media among college students — from texting, to chatting on cell phones, to posting status updates on Facebook — may be taking a very serious academic toll.

According to this new study, new women students spent nearly half their day — 12 hours — engaged in some form of media use, particularly texting, music, the Internet and social networking. Researchers found media use, in general, was associated with lower grades an other academic problems. However, there were two exceptions: newspaper reading and listening to music were actually linked to a positive academic performance.

These findings were reported online in the journal Emerging Adulthood, and they offer some new insight into media use in early adulthood, at a time when many young people are living independently for the first time and have significant freedom from parental monitoring.

By John Redfern