The latest research shows many women suffer in silence

Nearly HALF of women are constantly exhausted – and it could be due to a serious medical condition, experts warn in an article based on new UK Government research that was published this week.

Women have sleeping problems but suffer in silence

The YouGov survey of 4,100 British adults found that 46 per cent of women have trouble sleeping, compared with 36 per cent of men.

  • The study found that nearly half of women are sleep deprived but suffer in silence – only one in four tell their doctor.
  • Lack of sleep could be caused by obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – a sleep disorder that causes snoring and highly dangerous pauses in breathing – but often goes undiagnosed.
  • Poor sleep also increases risk of type 2 diabetes for middle-aged women and other new research confirms this.
  • Women are also more likely to wake during the night, with 36 per cent of women reporting this problem compared with 23 per cent of men.
  • Six in ten women said they become irritable during the day because of lack of sleep, while less than half of men do.

Many women do not seek medical advice because they believe it is merely a side effect of growing older. Experts however warn that not getting enough sleep can be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition, although pregnancy or the menopause can often be a factor too.

Sleep is known to be a particular problem for women as they approach the menopause.  Changes in hormone levels can lead to hot flushes, night sweats and mood changes – each of making sleeping harder. Pregnancy and the menopause increase a woman’s risk of suffering from OSA.

Professor John Stradling, a sleep expert at Oxford University, said: ‘Often women think that feeling exhausted is just part of modern life when in fact it could be something more serious. Remaining untreated leaves women at risk of reduced quality of life and serious health conditions.’

He added: ‘Many women are not aware that they may have sleep apnoea, meaning that they are missing out on the medical advice or treatment that they need. The sooner their sleep issues are addressed by a sleep expert, the better.’

Bill Johnston, chairman of the Sleep Apnoea Trust Association, which commissioned the survey, said it was easy to blame poor sleep on a change in the seasons, especially in winter. ‘For many it is, but for others, sleep issues could be a sign of sleep apnoea,’ he said.

‘The overall lack of awareness around sleep apnoea symptoms and its impact on a person’s health may mean that many are suffering in silence so it is important that we work with healthcare professionals to uncover this missing group and help minimise the impact of sleep problems on their lives.

An estimated 1.9 million women in Britain are thought to be going through the menopause at any one time. Some 80 per cent of these women are thought to experience symptoms, which typically last for about four years.  For about one in ten, however, symptoms last much longer, in some cases continuing for 12 years.

If left untreated it could lead to more serious health problems such as stroke or heart attack. Some 1.5 million adults in Britain are thought to suffer with sleep apnoea, but do nothing although treatment is simple and inexpensive. As well as snoring and insomnia, symptoms include restless legs, fatigue, depression, headaches and muscle pain.

No woman likes to think that she snores, because of the stigma that is attached to it, but at the end of the day the statistics show that women who snore account for 40% of all snorers.

A range of high quality approved mouthpieces that help to prevent serious health problems caused by heavy snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea is now available. These are 98% effective in tests, NHS Approved, comfortable, unobtrusive, and bring a great night’s sleep.

SleepPro Woman has been specially produced for this group and is the ideal starter mouthpiece. If symptoms continue or are accompanied by gasping for breath in the night they should consider a custom-fitted appliance called SleepPro Custom – the NHS No. 1 recommendation for both snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.

Acting now and investing in a mouthpiece that will stop your snoring could improve your day beyond recognition, and maybe even save your life.

John Redfern