Sleep occurs so that the body can refresh itself, both physically and mentally. There are two main types of sleep, REM and non-REM.
The abbreviation REM stands for rapid eye movement, and if you look into someone’s eyes by lifting up the eyelids while they are in this phase of sleep, the eyes will be flickering all over the place.
Different phases of sleep are associated with loss of muscle tone which causes snoring.
There are 4 stages of non-REM sleep and one true REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep phases:
•Drifting off to sleep and can easily be woken
•Mental slowdown in preparation for deep, non-REM sleep
•Transitional phase, moving into deep sleep, when muscle tone is lost and the body starts regenerating
•True deep sleep when most of the regeneration process occurs, and when muscle tone remains very low It is essential that the body achieves stage 4 non-REM sleep, as this is when we begin to dream, and it is only at this point the body begins the process of restful rejuvenation and repair.
True REM sleep is when we do most of our dreaming and is associated with a marked loss in muscle tone. REM sleep stimulates the brain regions used in learning and is essential for normal brain development during infancy, which is why children have a higher proportion of REM sleep than adults.
Lack of REM sleep can be disastrous and throughout this website, we discuss how this can lead to irreversible damage to the body, serious psychiatric issues and ultimately death.
The general recommendation is that we achieve seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Interestingly, only two hours or so of this is stage 4 non-REM and REM sleep – the bit you actually need. Those who can survive on a few hours’ sleep at night are likely to be able to skip stages 1-3 and go straight to stage 4 non-REM sleep and REM sleep.
Sleep Apnoea ” Snoring “
Finally, many of you reading this article will have heard of, probably literally, snoring. Most of you don’t know what the apnoea of sleep is. Apnoea means “no breathing”, so sleep apnoea is when you stop breathing at night, while you are asleep.
Snoring, when left untreated, may progress to sleep apnoea over the passage of time. Approximately 40% of males over the age of 35 snore regularly, of these 2% have sleep apnoea. At the age of 65, 70% of males snore regularly and 10% have sleep apnoea.
When you have fully-developed sleep apnoea, your blood oxygen concentration can regularly drop below 90% and it usually runs at around 98-99%. This low oxygen supply can go on for a large proportion of a patient’s sleep time.
This means your organs are deprived of oxygen for significant periods of time at night, and if their oxygen supply is already a bit precarious, as in patients with furring of the arteries (atherosclerosis), then this loss of oxygen can become critical.
Sleep apnoea is associated with all sorts of other medical problems, from heart attacks in the middle of the night, to impotence, lack of concentration, poor memory, diabetes and blood pressure. People with sleep apnoea usually have a score above 10 on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale⁴. Sleep apnoea is best diagnosed by overnight pulse oximetry using a simple finger probe.
Traditional Treatment for Snoring
The treatment of snoring is to unblock the airway. Methods include Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) which involves having a ventilator fitted over the face at night, which forces air into the lungs, causing the airway to be stretched open.
Treatment can also mean having a tooth splint fitted to the upper and lower jaw at night, holding the lower jaw in a forward position, which in turn pulls the Tongue forward and open the airway at the back of the tongue, the most frequent site for nighttime airway obstruction.
Otherwise, surgery can be performed to improve the airway, to reduce the tonsils (laser tonsillectomy), shrink the soft palate (laser palatoplasty) or open up the nose (septoplasty).
Weight loss is also a common recommendation. Your body mass index (BMI) should be less than 30. To order to calculate your BMI, take your weight to kilograms and divide it into square meters by your height. Losing weight both reduces the oxygen requirement of the body, meaning you breathe more lightly, and reduces the bulk of the neck, which means there is less pressure on the airway so it obstructs less easily.
As with most diseases, self-help can often play a major role, bearing in mind:
•Untreated sleep apnoea can seriously damage your health.
•Untreated snoring can seriously damage your wealth.
•This website has been produced as there is no thorough, concise regime to treat snoring at home by non-medical means currently available.
•Now we are going to tell you how this applies to you, and what you personally can do about it.