Tag: sleep

Sleep Apnoea Cases In Children Are On The Rise, So How Can Parents Spot It?

Sleep apnoea accounts for nearly nine in every 10 sleep-related hospital admissions for children under 16s since 2012, new analysis has revealed. 

There were a record number of cases recorded between 2017-18, with the overall figures rising every year, with the exception of a one-year dip between 2015 and 16, according to NHS data analysed by The Guardian.

These figures were revealed among a general increase in sleep-related admissions, such as insomnia, nightmares and sleepwalking. Overall sleep-related disorder admissions in children aged 16 and under increased every year.

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, causing a total blockage of the airway. When the airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more, it is known as apnoea.

People with the condition experience regular paused breathing episodes over a long period of time while asleep. Sufferers can experience anywhere between five and 100 pauses an hour (the latter is considered very severe). This process of periods of struggling to breathe, followed by waking briefly, may happen many times during the night.

It typically affects men with a collar size of 17 inches or more and early menopausal women who put on weight. It can also be worse in people with big tonsils and adenoids. However, children can also be affected and are at greater risk if they are overweight, have Down’s syndrome or have a family history of the condition. 

How can I spot it in my child?

The first symptom most parents notice is snoring, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). “Snoring is the sound made by the airway vibrating as it opens after it has partially collapsed,” GOSH states. 

In addition to snoring, the British Lung foundation (BLF) urges parents to also look out for gasps, snorts and choking sounds during sleep.

Parents may also notice children sleeping in unusual body positions that make it easier for them to breathe, for example with their head bent backwards. 

The BLF says other symptoms to help spot it, although slightly less common, include bedwetting, sweating and dry mouth. 

Daytime symptoms include early morning headache and general tiredness. Because of interrupted sleep, your child might be more tired during the day. “Younger children who suffer from sleep deprivation may actually be hyperactive or aggressive, whereas older children may feel tired,” GOSH states.

Other daytime symptoms include difficulty concentrating or behaving differently, as well as poor growth and weight gain.

What happens if I think my child has sleep apnoea?

Your child will need to have their sleep monitored, which will require an overnight visit to hospital. During the sleep study, various bodily functions will be monitored, such as breathing pattern and heart rate, to determine the child’s sleep quality and breathing pattern.

If your child does have it, common treatments include nasal inhaled corticosteroid sprays, an adenotonsillectomy (operation to remove tonsils), or using a CPAP or BiPAP – a simple machine that pushes air through a mask worn at night to keep the airway open.

Find out more about child sleep apnoea and how to treat it here

Also on HuffPost

6 Ways To Kick-Start Autumn Mornings When All You Want To Do Is Hibernate

It may happen every year, but the recent change in weather still has us crying out in unison: “What is this fresh hell!?” Compared to the dreamy heatwave of summer 2018, the darkening, cold, autumnal mornings of late feel unbearable.

If, like us, you’re struggling to detach yourself from your duvet before work, help is at hand. We asked experts for their top tips on embracing the change in season and starting the day with a spring in your step. 

1. Begin your routine the night before 🌙

In order to wake up full of beans you need to nail bedtime first, according to sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor, founder of The Sleep Works. 

“Establishing a soothing and consistent bedtime routine around the same time every night contributes significantly to a better night’s sleep, making it easier to wake up feeling more rested the next morning. This goes a long way to helping our body regulate our sleep/wake cycles,” she explains.

“A good routine includes a warm bath or shower around 30 minutes before bed, writing a to-do list, picking out clothes and packing a bag for the next day. Reading or listening to music before going to sleep will help your mind and body wind down (and that doesn’t include checking emails or social media).” 

It’s not too late to start our Scroll Free Challenge – sign up here for daily articles and motivation.

2. Start your morning with an energising breakfast 🍳

Providing your body with energy for the day ahead should be a priority in the morning, according to nutrition consultant Charlotte Stirling-Reed, and this is best achieved by trying to tick off as many food groups as possible.

“For example if you like cereals, fine. It’s a good idea to opt for a low sugar, high fibre (and fortified) cereal. Add some nuts and seeds and some chopped fruit and you’re improving the nutritional profile and fibre content of brekky so simply,” she explains. “You can also do the same with porridge – I mix peanut butter, milled linseeds and then some fresh (or frozen) fruits such as blueberries and raspberries to mine.

“If you like toast then try to top with a nutrient-dense topping such as a nut butter or marmite and serve with a side of fruit too. If you can get in some carbs, proteins and a portion of fruit (or veg) then you’re on to a win for the rest of the day.” 

She adds that the odd tea or coffee isn’t the end of the world, but we should not replace foods with fluids in the morning as caffeine is no substitute for a meal.  

 3. Seek out natural light 🌤

Natural light may be hard to come by if you’ve got an early alarm, but Taylor recommends hunting it down or recreating it as much as possible. 

“Our naturally occurring sleep hormone, melatonin, is directly connected to light and dark. The darker the environment the sleepier we are likely to feel. The presence of natural or artificial light in the morning helps us feel more awake and energised,” she explains.

Depending on what time you wake up (and the proximity of your bedroom window to street lights), she recommends leaving curtains or blinds open overnight so natural light can creep in gradually in the morning. 

“You may also want to consider a natural alarm clock which mimics the light of a rising sun, waking you more gradually and gently,” she says. 

4. Do not hit snooze 😴

Tempting as it is to grab a few extra minutes in bed, avoid starting the day by hitting the snooze button as this can often spiral. 

“When an extra 10 minutes becomes 20, then 30, and you drag yourself out of bed feeling groggy, not to mention running late, you know it’s time to make a change,” Taylor says. 

“Allow yourself the extra 10 minutes indulgence by setting the alarm 10 minutes later and make the snooze button a no-go area. One option is to put the alarm clock on the other side of the room, forcing you to get up and cross the room to turn it off.”

5. Embrace morning exercise 💪

When even walking to the kettle feels like too much effort, morning exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But switching to a pre-work workout could energise you for the day ahead and leave more time in the evenings for those great autumn/winter TV dramas.  

“Any workout is good in the morning, but sometimes a high intensity interval session can really pump you up for the day ahead, leaving you with endorphins rushing through your veins,” explains personal trainer Dom Thorpe

“The other benefit of working out in the morning is that you’re more likely to perform well as you’ll have had a good night’s rest directly before, whereas training in the evening can be sub-optimal if you’re feeling tired and fatigued.”

Thorpe advises setting your heating to a timer before you wake up and warming up your workout gear on the radiator to help with motivation. 

6. Spruce up your autumn wardrobe 🧣

Call us vain, but when we’re in a new outfit we can’t wait to get out of the door to show it off. If you too are mere mortal, turn your negative attitude towards colder weather into a positive by getting excited about the new style season.

Our guides to the most joyful autumn jumpers, awesome animal prints, must-have midi skirts and stylish skirt suits will set you on your way. If all else fails, dig out your favourite roll neck and hunker down with a giant scarf. 

A Love Letter To Flight Mode: My Daily (And Nightly) Saviour

This September HuffPost UK is challenging readers to back away from their social media feeds for 28 days in order to find new balance in our relationships with technology. Coinciding with the Royal Society For Public Health’s campaign Scroll Free September, we’ll be delivering the tips and motivation you need via a daily email. And the best part? You can sign up to start the challenge at any point in the month. So what are you waiting for?

As a teen, the instruction of switching on flight mode elicited a hard eye-roll every time I was sat on a plane about to take off.

How would I manage a whole three hours without checking Facebook? What about my friends’ regular and completely unimportant SMS updates? What if I missed something on Instagram, Snapchat, email? (It’s safe to say adolescent me needed to get a grip.)

I like to think I’ve come a long way since those days. Flight mode has become a force for good and I’m proud to say I use it without hesitation every single day. And no, my job doesn’t involve lots of travelling.

Flight mode (or aeroplane mode) is a feature on smartphones and other devices which disables signal-transmitting technologies meaning you can’t access Wi-Fi, voice calls, text messages, 3G/4G and Bluetooth – although you can turn Wi-Fi back on manually.

In other words, it means you can’t really use your device to connect with other people. And in a world where we’re increasingly switched on – a recent survey from Better Buy Insurance found 18-24-year-olds use their phones a staggering 81 times per day – flight mode has become a very precious function to me.

Every night when I get into bed, somewhere between moisturising my face and my head hitting the pillow, I swipe my screen up and press the bright orange button with the aeroplane icon. The premise is simple – it stops the temptation of scrolling Twitter or Instagram for hours on end; it deters me from replying to messages on Whatsapp and it prevents me from checking my emails (a bright red notification tells me I currently have 10,368 unread). 

My love affair with the setting doesn’t end there either – I know, I’m too much. Sometimes at the weekend I’ll keep my phone on aeroplane mode for an entire day (providing I don’t have to use Google maps or arrange to meet someone). And guess what? It’s a real treat. 10/10 would do again. 

I decided to make the change about two years ago after interviewing various sleep specialists on what it takes to get a good night’s kip. “Remove your phone from your bedroom altogether,” one told me. “Stop scrolling at night, the blue light will keep you awake,” said another. I didn’t have to be told again.

Blue light emitted from phones is a problem when it comes to getting some shut-eye because it suppresses the hormone melatonin which affects the body’s circadian rhythm. This means your brain becomes stimulated when it should be shutting up shop for the night. A 2017 study found exposure to blue light reduced a person’s duration of sleep by approximately 16 minutes and people were likely to wake up 6-8 times in the night. Not good.

There’s also the issue of phones bleeping once you’ve drifted off, which can make for a disruptive night’s sleep. And, of course, the content of the incoming messages themselves could trigger all kinds of emotions – excitement or anger, you’ll probably feel far more awake.

What is the impact of this? Continued sleep deprivation raises the risk of a number of chronic health problems, according to Harvard Health, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. A study from this year suggests scrolling on your phone late at night could heighten your risk of mood disorders. It was also associated with decreased happiness and health satisfaction, and – ironically – a higher risk of reporting loneliness.

Since switching to a flight mode-filled existence, I have to say my ability to get to sleep in time for a seven to eight-hour snooze has improved dramatically. I was already pretty good at drifting off quickly (it runs in the family) but I’ve definitely noticed a difference between scrolling-Twitter-for-half-an-hour-Tasha and ahoy-there-flight-mode-Tasha: the latter could win the sleep Olympics regularly and she definitely wakes up mid-slumber far less often.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I don’t switch straight to flight mode because I’ve seen a notification while setting my morning alarm or I’ve had that uncontrollable urge to check Twitter (I’m only human, after all). But every time this happens my sleep takes a hit – it takes me ages to get to sleep, I drift in and out of slumber throughout the night, and I end up tired and cranky the next day.

So thank you, oh mighty inventor of flight mode, for helping me get a good night’s kip. If you’re feeling up to the scroll-free challenge, try switching on aeroplane mode each night and let me know if it helps.

We Have So Many Questions About Mark Wahlberg’s Daily Routine

Being a Hollywood actor is all red carpets, celebrity parties and paying staff to bring you a bowl of Frosties when you get hungry in the middle of the night, right? Wrong.Actor Mark Wahlberg has shared his daily routine in a Q&A on his Instagram p…

If You Are Sleeping Badly, It Is Probably Killing Your Social Life

You might think leaving the pub early to get home to bed is what’s killing your social life, but scientists have actually found that sleep deprivation is more likely to make you feel lonely and socially isolated. 

The new study from the University of California and Berkeley found sleep-deprived people avoiding close contact with others in much the same way as those with social anxiety do. 

When you are exhausted not only do you want to avoid people, but well-rested people are also more likely to feel lonely themselves after even the briefest of encounters with you – making you subconsciously socially unattractive. 

Researchers found brain scans of sleep-deprived people showed powerful social repulsion activity in neural networks which are typically activated when humans feel their personal space is being invaded.

Sleep loss also blunted activity in brain regions that normally encourage social engagement.

The findings, published today in the journal Nature, are the first to show a two-way relationship between not having enough sleep and becoming socially isolated. 

Given both sleep and loneliness and considered to be an increasing concern in the modern population, these findings shed light on the interplay between them.

Matthew Walker, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Berkeley said: “We humans are a social species. Yet sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers.”

“The less sleep you get, the less you want to socially interact. In turn, other people perceive you as more socially repulsive, further increasing the grave social-isolation impact of sleep loss,” Walker added. “That vicious cycle may be a significant contributing factor to the public health crisis that is loneliness.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 5% of adults in England reported feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’ between 2016 and 2017.

Surprisingly, younger adults (those aged 16 to 24) were found to experience loneliness more often than those in older age groups; while women, widows, single people, renters and those with poor health were also identified as more susceptible.

But perhaps it is no coincidence that the past few decades have seen a marked increase in loneliness and an equally dramatic decrease in sleep duration. 

From an evolutionary standpoint, the study challenges the assumption that humans are programmed to nurture socially vulnerable members of their tribe for the survival of the species.

Walker said: “There’s no biological or social safety net for sleep deprivation as there is for, say, starvation. That’s why our physical and mental health implodes so quickly even after the loss of just one or two hours of sleep.”

To gauge the social effects of poor sleep, the team used tools like MRI brain imaging, videotaped simulations and surveys. They tested the neural responses of 18 healthy young adults following a normal night and a sleepless night.

Finally, researchers looked at whether just one night of good or bad sleep could influence one’s sense of loneliness the next day.

Sleeping More Than 8 Hours ‘Could Increase Risk Of Early Death’

Sleeping longer than the recommended seven or eight hours a night has been linked with a higher risk of premature death, according to new research.

Researchers looked at data from 74 studies involving more than three million people and found those who slept for 10 hours were 30% more likely to die prematurely than those who slept for eight.

Staying in bed for more than 10 hours was also linked to a 56% increased risk of death from stroke and a 49% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Poor sleep quality was associated with a 44% increase in coronary heart disease, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers said their study suggests abnormal sleep could be “a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk” and said GPs ought to ask questions about sleeping patterns during appointments.

Lead researcher Dr Chun Shing Kwok, of Keele University’s Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, said: “Abnormal sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk and greater consideration should be given in exploring both duration and sleep quality during patient consultations.

“There are cultural, social, psychological, behavioural, pathophysiological and environmental influences on our sleep such as the need to care for children or family members, irregular working shift patterns, physical or mental illness, and the 24-hour availability of commodities in modern society.”

The study, which also involved researchers from the universities of Leeds, Manchester and East Anglia, said the research was limited as duration of sleep was self-reported and that underlying mental or physical conditions may have had an impact on “extreme sleep patterns”.

Is It Safe For Babies To Sleep Outside During The Heatwave?

Getting babies off to sleep during the heatwave can be a challenge, so some mums and dads are opting to put their little ones outside for a nap in the fresh air. But is it a good idea?

On Mumsnet, parents have been debating the issue, with some saying they leave their children alone outdoors for short periods of time, while others have raised concerns about insects, heatstroke and foxes. 

Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at children’s charity NCT, tells HuffPost UK it’s okay to let babies sleep outdoors if it is cooler than the house, but you should take precautions. 

“Make sure babies or toddlers are in the shade and kept out of direct sunlight if you’re outdoors,” she says. “Stay with your baby or toddler and check them regularly to make sure they aren’t overheating.”

Maryanne Taylor, child sleep consultant and founder of The Sleep Works agrees parents should keep a continuous eye on babies sleeping outdoors, which will enable you to respond to any potential problems such as wildlife. 

“Even in the shade, use a parasol or sunshade,” she adds. “Make sure they are dressed appropriately with a nappy and just a vest if very hot. If they appear to be looking sweaty or red cheeked, move them inside.”

With older babies, Taylor warns that moving their sleeping location can cause them to sense a change in routine, actually making sleep less likely. 

“One thing to consider for babies from around five months of age is that the quality of their sleep is likely to be better in their cot as they are becoming more mobile and aware of their surroundings at this stage, and sleeping in a buggy outside may become too distracting,” she says.

Is ‘Beauty Sleep’ Real?

Telling someone you are heading to bed as you need your ‘beauty sleep’ may sound fanciful, but how important is sleep in making you look and feel pretty?

A recent survey found that people who got an average of 9 hours and 10 minutes good quality sleep each night, were most likely to feel they looked their best. 

And dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe concurs that a consistent lack of sleep can have consequences for your appearance.

“When you’re feeling tired, you also feel more stressed and anxious and it’s this stress that induces problems with the skin,” he tells HuffPost UK. “If you’re acne prone, you can get more acne if you don’t sleep. Or if you’re prone to frown lines, it will have the same effect and you will get more lines.”

“Also people will find that on the side they sleep the most on, they will gain more acne or frown lines or whatever problems they have with their skin,” Dr Lowe adds.

But before you blame all your skin woes on a lack of sleep, Dr Lowe also suggests looking at the lifestyle habits that may be preventing you from getting enough sleep – as it may be these, rather than the number of hours you spend in bed, that are having an impact: “If you’re partying all the time and you’re smoking or in smoking areas, this will accelerate skin ageing and make your skin dull”.

Sleep consultant and founder of Sleep WorksMaryanne Taylor also believes that beauty sleep “exists on many levels”.

“Sleep needs vary from person to person but the range is from around 6-8 hours,” she says. “The early stage of our sleep is our deepest sleep, and it is then that our growth hormones are increasing and repairing muscles and bones. These growth hormones are linked to increase in collagen, which is the protein that keeps skin strong and elastic. So insufficient sleep over a period of time affects how our skin looks and feels. 

“But it’s not just our skin that needs beauty sleep. Hair can be affected by lack of sleep. Nutrients, vitamins and minerals from blood flow all stimulate hair follicles. As blood flow decreases when sleep deprived, the hair gets less ‘fuel’ and weakens.

“Even facial expressions are affected as we tend to frown more when tired too.”

If you’re not getting as much beauty sleep as you’d like and you’d like to fake a refreshed glow Dr Lowe advises using products with retinol. “This will stimulate the skin to renew itself,” he explains. “And for those with dry and sensitive skin, adding the adequate amount of moisture via night creams will help replenish the skin barrier.” So you too can look in the mirror and say “I woke up like this”. 

Fatherhood: The Story So Far

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris BuellerIt’s the odd thing about milestones, I just don’t see them. What I mean is, I’ve never actually noticed a…

20 Ways To Get Your Baby To Sleep, As Recommended By Parents

Warm milk, a strict routine and gentle rocking are the top three ways to get a baby to sleep, according to parents. In a survey looking into how little sleep new parents get, mums and dads revealed the tricks and tips they felt worked to…