Media Planet Sleep Health Campaign 2021
21 March 2021 | Kath Hope
This year's article was harder to write due to us being in the middle of a pandemic, and knowing how hard the UK sleep clinics are struggling with not just their existing patients, but also referrals with new ones. This is mainly due to many sleep clinics being run by respiratory clinicians, and it was this expertise in high demand on the frontline to treat COVID patients so many staff have had to be redeployed during the 3 waves (so far). That being said, it's important to know that untreated sleep disordered breathing very often causes chronic inflammation, and good sleep is needed for a healthy immunity.
There has never been a more important time to address our sleep than in the middle of a pandemic.
There has been lots of research done on how sleep deprivation weakens the immunity, increasing susceptibility to infections. The NHS also states “lack of sleep is bad for your health.” Lack of healthy restorative sleep can lead to weight gain, anxiety/depression, diabetes, low testosterone levels and libido, increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and many other medical conditions.
Don’t ignore the snore
Snoring not just disturbs the bed partner, but also prevents the snorer getting good restorative sleep. However, before spending vast amounts of money trying to fix the snoring, it’s important to check the snoring isn’t the audible red flag warning you’re actually suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
Whilst there are no reliable statistics on how many snorers have OSA, we do have recent statistics from 2018, published by the European Respiratory Society, that claim 8 million people in the UK suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
Health risks of untreated sleep apnoea
The concern too is that 80% of these people remain undiagnosed. Although they know they snore, people have no idea they’re actually stopping breathing, resulting in their heart rate increasing and oxygen levels desaturating.
In fact, sleep is neither safe nor restful! Don’t be fooled by thinking that only overweight people suffer from OSA as it can affect all sizes, sexes and ages, including children. Untreated sleep apnoea, and indeed sleep deprivation, actually exacerbates weight gain!
Untreated sleep apnoea is a huge health risk, linked to heart attacks and strokes along with many other conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism and mental health. The good news is that it’s one of the few serious medical conditions that doesn’t even require taking lifelong medication.
Please do read the full Sleep Health Campaign as there are many expert sleep contributions, with several others speaking about sleep apnoea, as well as other aspects of sleep for good health. Full article can be read by clicking on this link.