90% of us suffer from sleepless nights with snoring being a leading cause.

Over a third of adults say they often wake up than three times a night

Coventry is the capital of Britain’s biggest snorers while 96% of residents in Chelmsford claim they are plagued by lack of sleep

A staggering nine in 10 people suffer sleepless nights, a recent survey conducted by a leading UK Hotel Group has revealed. Worry is one of the major reasons, with a third of those polled claiming it had stopped them nodding off, but in some areas, snoring hit almost 40% of the total but with wide regional variations.

The poll of 2,000 adults by the hotel chain Premier Inn, found that on average a quarter of adults said that the loud snoring of their partner regularly woke them up.

Other causes that scored significantly were pets waking their owners (eight per cent), bad dreams (20 per cent) and being woken by their own snoring (nine per cent).

How did your area perform? There were some extremely wide regional variations and I’ll leave you to form your own conclusions as to why.

In the regional breakdown, the survey claimed that some towns and cities were worse when it comes to restless nights.

Coventry is said to be home to Britain’s biggest snorers with 40 per cent of adults being woken in the night by their partner whereas Liverpool is the noisy neighbour hotspot with 17 per cent complaining that rowdy residents wake them on a regular basis.

But the sleepless capital of Britain is Chelmsford, with a staggering 96 per cent of residents plagued by a constant lack of sleep. Almost a third of the town (31 per cent) said tiredness left them grumpy the next day.

So Premier Inn took over an ordinary street in Chelmsford for one night and transformed it into ‘Good Night Sleep Street’ so that residents could have a good night’s sleep. Amusingly, it provided various sleep aids including a flock of sheep for residents to count and a night warden to keep noise levels at bay and provide warming drinks.

It is of course hard to eliminate worry totally from our daily lives, but if we managed to eliminate snoring, and that is so easily done, so many areas could be improved with regard to our general health and our overall daily physical performance.

Many serious illnesses have been linked to snoring; coronary disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious health problems are known to be closely related. Equally well researched is the effect of the resultant poor sleep value on performance at work, and in some cases, putting life at risk for those in charge of vehicles or machinery. Although closely related to older men. It is no respecter of age or sex and it is even known to produce a range of severe behavioural problems in children and poor attention levels in class.

In the survey results, fatigue and tiredness were blamed by as many as 25 per cent of participants for affecting their productivity, concentration and ability to do their job efficiently or safely.

If you snore – get help. It’s easy to do so and very important. Talk your GP or Dentist and they will advise you of the choices available to help you eliminate the problem of snoring and make your future health s safer bet.

Many of these solutions are as simple and inexpensive as a mouthpiece, listed and approved by the NHS. It will contribute significantly to help eliminate the problem of your snoring – probably pleasing your partner a great deal – and help you to avoid the many long-term health dangers that snoring brings to adults including stroke, heart attacks and diabetes.

By John Redfern


Your New Year Resolution should be to stop snoring and extend your life

I took the opportunity to take a look at some of the published lists of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions for the last ten years, and there are a few perennial favourites that appear time and time again. There are probably no prizes for guessing them, but the main ones are:

  • Losing excess weight
  • Getting fitter and healthier
  • Focusing on job performance
  • Improving relationships

These are all “regulars” on the published Top Ten lists, year after year.

However, notably absent is the one key thing that can actually help people to achieve all of these goals: and that is getting better sleep.

Resolving to get better sleep may be the single most meaningful promise we can ever make to ourselves, because meeting our bodies’ need for sleep can empower us to accomplish so many other important goals.

So many studies have shown that optimizing sleep can help facilitate weight loss and that weight loss is no longer considered to result from “diet and exercise”, but rather from “diet, exercise and sleep”.

Similarly, athletic performance (and generalized fitness) is so closely linked to healthy sleep that most professional sports teams today have dedicated sleep professionals, who help manage players’ sleep schedules in an effort to gain a competitive edge.

On the job, outcomes ranging from problem solving and critical thinking skills to the likelihood of getting a promotion have been tied to optimizing sleep.

The impact of sleep deprivation on relationships has also been extensively studied, with the unanimous conclusion that well rested couples are quite significantly more likely to be happy than sleep deprived couples. Indeed, many therapists suggest that the old adage to “never go to bed angry” ought to be replaced with: “never argue when you are tired”. The theory being that it is better to get a good night’s rest, and deal with a problem in the morning, when you are both well rested, than to try to hash things out tired and irritable.

And key to that good night’s sleep for many is for you to eliminate snoring as the single main factor that not only damages your relationship, and your general health, but also can lead on to many more highly significant and life-threatening illnesses; strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer and even damage to the brain according to recent investigations into sleep apnoea or really heavy snoring where you actually stop breathing.

It has been proved beyond doubt that those individuals who enjoy less than six hours good sleep per night, versus seven or eight, face a four times higher risk of stroke. The survey ran for almost 3 years with nearly 6,000 respondents and was sponsored by the US Government, where there is a much higher awareness of both the risks, and the real cost, of snoring.

For the smallest outlay imaginable, as little as £30, you can eliminate most of these current dangers, and at the same time protect yourself from future deadly illnesses by acquiring a mouthpiece such as the SleepPro Standard – not only NHS approved but available instantly by post from their website without prescription. By using such a mouthpiece at night you can reduce the snoring danger to virtually nothing; pleasing your partner, improving your working day and levels of efficiency, and improving your overall health significantly by being well rested and prepared for the coming day. It may even save your life.

For all these reasons and more, consider making this year the year that you resolve to get better sleep. I wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy, and Well Rested New Year!

By John Redfern


GO MAD in the NEW YEAR and CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Make it your New Year Resolution to Stop Snoring with a Mandibular Advancement Device.

Mandibular Advancement Devices are commonly referred to as stop snoring mouthpieces or mouth guards. They are used to help treat patients suffering from problems of heavy snoring or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

In order to understand how these mouthpieces work, it’s important to first understand a little bit about the method, as well as the relationship between snoring and sleep apnoea disorders.

Sleep apnoea disorders are characterized by pauses in normal respiration while the sufferer is asleep. The patient simply isn’t aware that he or she has stopped breathing in their sleep. In the daytime the symptoms often manifest as depression, constant tiredness and just overall malaise. As the body struggles to breathe at night, you often wake up feeling exhausted. In a recent survey, the regional breakdown claimed that some towns and cities were worse when it comes to restless nights.

Snoring and intermittent pauses in breathing are the most common symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. It’s important to note that in the case of Central Sleep Apnoea the sufferer often does not snore and Mandibular Advancement Devices are usually not prescribed.

As your body relaxes while you sleep, so do the smooth muscles in your airway through which your lungs receive oxygen as you breathe.

Unfortunately, in some individuals these muscles drastically loosen to the point where the airway is blocked. The airway is a tube shape, sort of like a garden hose. However, unlike a garden hose, which often holds its shape – in OSA sufferers this tube “flattens” due to lack of muscle tightness. With the airway collapsed it becomes difficult for air to pass through it into the lungs, and the muscles begin to vibrate against one another as the air passes through. This vibration is a sound that we commonly know as snoring.

For many patients, this begs the question…. What does a mouth guard have anything to do with the airway in my throat?

Any individual with a background in medicine can tell you that the mouth, nose, and throat are inseparable when it comes to treating disease and disorders. A medical problem originating in the throat can show it’s effects elsewhere and will do so.

Mandibular Advancement Devices work by moving the lower jaw slightly forward. It’s that simple – and SleepPro appliances are NHS Approved.

This artificial pushing on your jawbone causes the muscles in your throat to tighten lessening the obstruction in the airway. This allows more space for the air to pass through to your lungs and dramatically decreases the likelihood that you will snore in your sleep. As a matter of fact, many individuals who have not been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea choose to purchase these mouth guards over the counter or online, as their primary concern is to stop snoring.

There are many varieties of these devices available. Your physician may recommend you start with the standard version to see how you find it. If it shows signs of working there are two further options available: the SFA or Self Fit Adjustable version that has lots of micro-adjustments possible for additional comfort of fit and improved performance. These devices are inexpensive and the mouthpieces are often crafted of soft plastics. The ultimate version is Custom fitted to mould which you can make at home in seconds and send to SleepPro to make a fully tailored version for you.

Frankly, it’s a small expense that can even prove to be life saving in many instances as snoring is so closely related to serious illness if left untreated.

Many individuals are completely unaware that snoring is associated with any sort of sleep disorder. Fortunately, there is now a growing awareness of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and many people searching for methods on how to stop snoring often discover after visiting their physician that their snoring is only a symptom of a wider problem and not the disorder in and of itself.

By John Redfern


Can snoring really kill?

Dental Surgeons say it can – they’ve found out why snoring can take life.

Snoring can indicate very serious upper airway disorders, and these blocked airways will increase Blood Pressure significantly, damaging the arteries and often leading to a Stroke.

Although considered harmless, snoring can actually indicate a very serious medical condition called sleep apnoea. Marked by irregular breathing, sleep apnoea often causes sufferers to stop breathing completely for up to several seconds and has even been linked to stroke and heart disease in some patients.

“When persons with sleep apnoea fall asleep, their tongue falls back into their throat, blocking their airway,” Dr. Arthur Friedlander, an oral surgeon who worked on the study conducted at University of California’s School of Dentistry, said in a recent statement.

“As they struggle for breath, their blood pressure simply soars and this rise in blood pressure damages the inner walls of the carotid arteries lining the sides of the neck,” he added. “Cholesterol and calcium stick to these injury sites and amass into calcified plaques, which block blood flow to the brain. The result of all this is often a massive stroke.”

According to Dr. Friedlander, these deposits of calcium deposits are merely the tip of the iceberg. “The X-ray can’t show the true size of the plaque, which is also made up of fat, platelets, and other soft tissue.” When a person is suffering from sleep apnoea, air cannot flow in or out of the nose or mouth. Oxygen is not taken in so carbon dioxide builds to dangerous levels in the blood.

“It’s just like pressing a pillow over someone’s face.” Friedlander said.

At the other side of the world to this, further recent clinical research by leading anaesthesiologists in Japan clearly demonstrates that manoeuvres such as lifting the chin, and thrusting the jaw forward, markedly improve airway potency in both adults and children.

`This clinical trial information demonstrated how using a chinstrap alone improved obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) symptoms as well as, or better than the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which necessitates the supply of oxygen throughout the night by using a face mask – not without its side effects.

Further tests with dental mouthpieces, alone, and also combined with the use of the chinstrap in more serious cases, underlined even more the ease of treating sleep apnoea this way – and the clear advantages of doing so.

This important research clearly demonstrates the easier method of treatment but don’t attempt self-cure. It is important to refer the problem that you may have to your General Practitioner.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a significant and dangerous condition – that often kills if left untreated. OSA symptoms are often responsible for daytime sleepiness, motor vehicle crashes, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Age is not at all relevant to the equation either. Make sure that you check for the symptoms in your children and grandchildren where surprisingly it is found more often than you may think and is best resolved immediately. Children’s behavioural problems may be linked to their sleep habits, according to a number of new studies. Children who snore often are nearly twice as likely as other children to have attention deficit and hyperactivity problems.

So if you find any symptoms of OSA, or simply heavy snoring, act now. Consult your GP. The evidence clearly shows that a life may depend on it.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info.


Serious Sleep Problems revealed in Goodnight Britain

One of the most heavily watched programmes to be shown on BBC these last few weeks has been Goodnight Britain – a long overdue insight into unusual, but common, sleeping habits. It was a programme that was reviewed in depth by the Press with a widely ranging variety of responses.

According to the documentary, half a million Britons suffer from parasomnia, the technical term for sleep-walking, talking, and in the case of one woman featured on the programme, screaming and running about in the belief that you are being assaulted. I sympathise with the lady’s housemate, as both my stepdaughters are afflicted with this condition, but not to such an extreme I’m glad to say.

The programme also tackled sufferers with very common problem sleep behaviours such as snoring and insomnia. The first step involved fitting out their homes with night vision cameras, which were then closely monitored by two sleep experts – who weirdly never seemed to need any sleep – who were concealed nearby in their ‘sleep-mobile’.

Initial reactions were of course predictable and to begin with it was hard not to see the funny side of the unusual night-time activity. Snoring, for instance, has always been a subject of choice for our comedians.

However the show soon highlighted the serious side of sleeping and its various problems, as one participant was suspended from his job as a van driver due to his suffering from OSN – or obstructive sleep apnoea, a terrifying condition in which the muscles and soft tissue in the back of the throat collapse inwards during sleep, blocking the airway, and meaning that he stopped breathing in between snores.

As a result of his diagnosis, he was asked to notify the DVLA and to stop driving for a period of four weeks while he is treated “What am I going to do now,’ he asked, “I’ve done this job for 22 years and it’s all I know”.

But due to treatment there is a happy ending. At the end of this four-week period his GP notified the DVLA that he is now safe to drive and he is able to resume driving. He goes on to develop his career and achieve his HGV Class 2 licence.

It became very apparent that few knew they had a sleep condition or disorder. However, often their partner did. “Me, I don’t snore” is the usual answer. Even those who have accepted that they do are not aware how much it can affect their health, causing strokes, diabetes and other serious illnesses. In fact we are talking very high percentages of the population – a real problem – and often ignored in the United Kingdom – whereas in Australia, Canada and the United States it is taken very seriously and is a specialist treatment area with both Doctor and Dentist.

It is estimated that a quarter of the UK population suffer sleeping difficulties and over 10 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were issued in Britain last year alone. Commentator Sian Williams described Britain as “ a nation in the grip of a sleep crisis” – a crisis that costs the NHS £1.6 billion last year just for prescriptions and sleeping pills alone – let alone the more serious results that can happen. Yet anyone who’s ever suffered from insomnia, however fitfully, knows that it’s a very miserable experience.

Sleep disorders affect many people – whether it’s snoring, sleep walking, insomnia or sleep apnoea – so if you feel you have a serious problem seek medical advice.

For the vast majority of poor sleepers, however, just making some simple improvements to their bedtime routine and environment will boost sleep quality.

For others, there are many NHS approved solutions out there including MAD’s – dental mouthpieces for want of a better term, Chinstraps and not only are they inexpensive and readily available – there is overwhelming evidence that they work, saving thousands from both short term sleep problems but more importantly, serious long term health problems, or even sudden death.

The key thing si to know if you are a sufferer – and if so – seek expert medical advice on what to do next. Do not ignore it.

The British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association has launched a UK-wide survey into public awareness of the condition, sleep apnoea. The aim is to test public knowledge about signs, symptoms and health risks associated with the condition.

To make this the biggest survey yet it needs adult participants from all walks of life to take part. Whether you have this condition or think you have it, or somebody you know has it, or even if you don’t know anything at all, they would like to hear from you.

The survey will run until the end of January 2013 and the results will be published during next year’s regular National Stop Snoring Week from 22 – 27 April 2013.

To test your knowledge visit www.sleepapnoeasurvey.org.uk

By John Redfern


Sleep Apnoea and Snoring: What's the Difference?

Sleep apnoea is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing (apnoeas) or abnormally low breathing during sleep. These apnoeas can occur due to a lack of respiratory effort, due to a physical blockage to airflow, or a combination of both. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is the most common type of apnoea and occurs where there is a physical blockage of airflow.

Individuals with OSA are rarely aware of having difficulty breathing. In fact, the person’s sleeping partner or someone that sleeps in the same room often recognises the problem. Patients suffering from OSA often feel very tired during the day and report daytime sleepiness, which they often become used to. It is not unusual for a patient with sleep apnoea to take naps during the day, fall asleep watching television or sitting in a car, or fall asleep while talking to someone. Sleep apnoea can also affect your work performance, vigilance, motivation and other behavioural or cognitive effects.

Snoring, on the other hand, is caused by the vibration of respiratory structures due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. This is often caused by the uvula (the tissue that hangs down in the back of your throat), an elongated soft palate, a large tongue or obstructions in the nasal area.

Statistics on snoring suggest that as many as 50 per cent of adults snore, while as many as one in 20 of us are affected by sleep apnoea. While someone who snores may also suffer from sleep apnoea, not all patient with sleep apnoea snore. This means that even though you do not snore, it does not mean that you do not have sleep apnoea.

If you suffer from daytime sleepiness and fatigue, and don’t feel refreshed in the morning after a good night’s sleep, you should probably consider getting medical advice. You may be advised to go to a sleep centre, where you will sleep overnight while you are connected to a variety of devices that will monitor your body functions. These include brain activity, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rhythm and oxygen saturation. An alternative to this is to take a home testing device, which will also monitor certain of your body functions, but in the comfort of your own home and bed.

Treatment options for persons suffering from snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea vary a great deal, from quite conservative treatment to invasive surgical treatment. Treatment for snoring includes positive airway pressure devices (CPAP), dental appliances (MAD) and surgeries that are customized to best address your quite individual needs.

There are many treatment options for patients with obstructive sleep apnoea. The first one is called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (CPAP), which is a machine that keeps the patient’s airway open during sleep by delivering a continuous flow of pressurized air into the throat. Another option is to use Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), where a custom-made mouthpiece shifts the lower jaw forward, thereby opening the airway.

If you suspect that you suffer from snoring or sleep apnoea, the first step to take is to schedule an appointment with your GP or a sleep specialist who will perform a comprehensive examination and perhaps a sleep study. Once your doctor reviews your sleep study, your treatment plan can then be customized to address your condition and specific needs.

The outcome is often simple – a dental mouthpiece can minimise your snoring and safeguard your health – but make sure to take qualified advice. The latest developments of mouthpiece even offer self-fitting adjustable devices (SFA) to improve anti-snoring performance and give much more comfort. Choose wisely.

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info!

By John Redfern


New Report: Half of women may have Sleep Apnoea

Sleep is a big topic these days. Turn on the TV or radio and you’ll probably hear someone discussing sleep medicine. There have been broadcast several conversations about sleep recently on topics ranging from surgical options to sleep-inducing drinks. And books are being written everyday on sleep topics, as well as ongoing articles in national magazines – particularly on the subject of snoring

For many years this has been regarded as strictly a male preserve but the emphasis has started to shift recently. In fact half of all the women given overnight sleep tests for a new study were found to have mild-to-severe sleep apnoea – a staggering percentage.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a serious snoring disorder in which the sufferer stops breathing during sleep for at least 10 seconds. It’s generally associated with men, but researchers in Sweden recently set out to determine the frequency of the problem in women. The results were surprising. Half of the women in the study experienced obstructive sleep apnoea, with 20 percent having moderate and 6 percent having severe symptoms.

The report has been published in the European Respiratory Journal and was based on women between the ages of 20 and 70 from a large population sample of 10,000.

The participants of the study were monitored during sleep for heart rate, eye and leg movements, blood oxygen levels, airflow and brain waves. Half experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds. And for women with hypertension or who were obese, the numbers reached as high as 80 to 84 percent.

The results were very clear cut and seem to have started many alarm bells ringing – it was important enough to have been picked up and covered by the UK National Press including the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

Age played a big part and the disorder was found to be more prevalent in older women: Among women aged 20-44, one quarter had sleep apnea, compared to 56 percent of women aged 45-54 and 75 percent of women aged 55-70.

Occasional cessation in breathing during sleep may happen to everyone from time to time, but in obstructive sleep apnea there are at least five times when breathing stops, for at least 10 seconds each time, within an hour. Patients with really severe symptoms may stop breathing hundreds of times in one sleeping session.

Sleep apnoea is a serious health problem and is tied to a higher risk of depression, stroke, heart attack, cancer and early death. Importantly it can be minimized or even eliminated by simple anti-snoring devices such as Mouthpieces worn at night.

Many patients are not aware of their sleep disorder, and knowing these symptoms can often help:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep that is witnessed by another person
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnoea
  • Awakening with a very dry mouth or a sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Attention problems during the day

In some occupations, particularly when driving or being in charge of any machinery, sleep apnoea is extremely dangerous due to the possible lack of attention or even from falling asleep briefly.

Another recent study also found that women who have sleep apnoea are more likely to develop memory problems and dementia.

One piece of important advice – Do not Ignore it.

If you suspect problems take advice from your GP who may even ask you to attend a specialist NHS Sleep Centre for further tests and confirmation of the symptoms.

Act now – because it will not go away – it will simply get worse.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube videos for more info.


Stop Snoring – Naturally

A friend asked me the other day how to stop snoring “naturally” without any help from mouthguards or other items that a GP or Dentist might recommend them to use. My immediate and only answer to him was that ‘Naturally it’s very difficult’. I’m sure he understood fully what I meant.

Any Doctor or Dentist, if consulted about excessively loud snoring will adopt the very same viewpoints with their patients. It’s just like buying a property. There are only three things that are important. In this case it’s Lifestyle, Lifestyle, and Lifestyle.

It’s important to remember that we produce the sound of snoring due to the vibration of the skin in the throat or the mouth when air is forced through it during sleep; just like blowing a reed instrument really. The passage of air causes vibration that produces a sound – and usually a loud one – called a snore – and that is the problem that has to be resolved by tautening the loose tissue in these areas. That can take a long time.

The next questions of course are how did this happen to us and how do we fix it?

We’ll start by answering the ‘fix it’ part of the question because that will tell us a great deal about how it happened.  The main advice you will receive if you want to stop snoring “naturally” is something like the following very unpopular set of instructions.

Quit smoking, drink a lot less, particularly late at night, and lose weight. What pleasures will there be left for us all if we don’t do as we’re instructed. We will finish up either shattered through a serious lack of good sleep, or divorced – and sometimes both.

But of course it can be done. Take the natural route to stopping snoring and sign up now for Weightwatchers, Alcoholics Anonymous and enrol in ASH. What joy our lives will be.

To be serious however it’s important to work on our lifestyle for lots of very important reasons, and not just the reduction in the problem of snoring. But at the same time it’s a long hard road and a little help along the way will not hurt. The first thing your GP or Dentist will recommend is this more sensibly balanced approach to your health, but they will also probably recommend a little help while you’re waiting for the results of your very hard-earned new healthy image to kick in.

Most NHS Sleep Centres or Clinics will recommend that you try a mouth guard, or MAD, to give its correct title, a Mandibular Advancement Device. I suggest you stick with dental mouth guard or mouthpiece. It’s much harder to get the correct title out of your mouth than it is to put this simple item in there.

They’re easy to use, very low cost and have an excellent proven record of success for most snorers, which is why they are recommended. They’re safe, unlike surgery, and simple and pretty comfortable to use, unlike CPAP oxygen intake systems.

It’s really just like the Meerkat says in those TV commercials for insurance – Simple!

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more information!


What’s a good night’s sleep – eight hours – or four hours twice?

If you wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep again – it could be good for you. There’s a growing body of evidence from both science and history that suggests that an eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

In the 1990s, a psychiatrist named Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. It took time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week they had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, and then woke for a few hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

Just after this, a historian at Virginia Tech published a paper, based on 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct sessions.

He found more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books, literature, and from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. Just like the psychiatrist’s experiment, the references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

What did people do during those middle hours?

Well it would seem they were quite active. They got up, visited neighbours, and even went to Church. Most people however stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. And these hours weren’t entirely solitary – people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they can have more enjoyment” and “do it better”.

Why did it disappear?

It seems that this first and second sleep pattern began to disappear during the late 17th century, starting with the wealthy urban classes of Western Europe, and filtering down across the next 200 years to the rest of Western society. By the 1920’s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.

Another leading historian has put forward ideas of why this happened.

“Associations with night before the 17th Century were not good,” he says. “The night was a place populated by people of disrepute – criminals, prostitutes and drunks. Even the wealthy, who could afford candlelight, had better things to spend their money on. There was no prestige or social value associated with staying up all night.”

That changed following the Reformation and the counter-Reformation. Protestants and Catholics became accustomed to holding secret services at night, during periods of persecution. If earlier the night had belonged to reprobates, it was now the opposite. This trend migrated to various other groups, but in those days only for those who could afford to live by candlelight.

With the advent of street lighting, however, socialising at night began to filter down through the classes – and that happened sooner than you may think.

In 1667, Paris became the first city in the world to light its streets, using wax candles in glass lamps. It was followed by Lille in the same year and Amsterdam two years later, where a much more efficient oil-powered lamp was developed. London didn’t join their ranks until 1684 but by the end of the century, more than 50 of Europe’s major towns and cities were lit at night.

Enjoying the ‘Nightlife’ then became fashionable and spending hours lying in bed was considered a waste of time.

There was other strong evidence of this shifting attitude. It is even contained in a medical journal from 1829 that urged parents to force their children out of a pattern of first and second sleep.

Most people seem to have adapted well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body’s natural preference for segmented sleep and Russell Foster, a Professor of Circadian [body clock] Neuroscience at Oxford, shares this point of view.

“Many people wake up at night and panic,” he says. “I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern.”

But the majority of doctors still fail to acknowledge that a consolidated eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

Foster says: “Over 30% of the medical problems that doctors are faced with stem directly or indirectly from sleep or the lack of it. But sleep has been ignored in medical training and there are very few centres where sleep is studied.”

So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, think of your pre-industrial ancestors and relax. Lying awake could be good for you. Maybe.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info.


Snoring or ‘Snore Ring’? A Temporary Measure

I hadn’t heard of this type of anti-snoring product until quite recently so a little bit of checking out and ‘googling’ was definitely required in this case. I asked quite a few family and friends, particularly the known snorers amongst them, but these particular items were very much an unknown quantity.

I’m really surprised that so little seemed to be known about ‘Snore Rings’ because frankly there are so many different brands of them available and at such a wide range of prices that surely everyone must be aware. I’ve never seen one anywhere but on checking the internet they would appear to be absolutely everywhere which surprised me.

Apparently they’re even available sometimes in quite a variety of well-known High Street health stores with prices ranging from only £2.99 to well over £40. And it’s with very good reason too. The myriad of ‘Snore Ring’ manufacturers all claim that the choice of metal used doesn’t really matter; so some are made in sterling silver, and others in copper, and others – well, who really knows? That’s fine as long as they don’t turn your finger green.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot something quite important. It has to be your little finger too – that’s the only finger on which these ‘Snore Rings’ are really effective for some reason. The story goes that it’s connected with the age-old Chinese art of acupuncture and that certain pressure on particular parts of your little finger can stop your snoring.

If it’s that easy to stop snoring I’m going to try it with a bit of decent string. You never know, it might work.

The one thing that all the manufacturers seemed to be in agreement over however is that the rings definitely stop you snoring – or there’s a good chance of it. Sounds easy then.

It’s a wonder then that they’re not strongly recommended by the National Health Service and every GP in the land.

Still several people gave them online reviews and said they seemed to work, but mostly for only a few days, but it had really helped them on their holiday.
I guess we’re all grateful for any relief from such a serious problem, however temporary, but the real answer is to consider our age, health, weight, and lifestyle. All these things can contribute to a problem of which snoring is merely a very noisy symptom.

I’m pretty sure that the only ring that works is the one you give your doctor to discuss your problem.

Getting good sensible medical advice is by far the best approach because a doctor will first and foremost try to isolate the underlying problem that’s been causing the snoring. He may likely recommend something that will lessen the snoring and help everyone in the family sleep better, such as a simple ‘splint’ or mouthpiece, but overall his main objective will be to examine the cause – and help you do something about it.

By John Redfern

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