Italians do it best and women get more than men. How sleep reveals the state of your health

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A new survey reveals that Italians get more sleep than anyone else in Europe – and women fair better than men between the sheets.

Research, that analysed 20,000 nights of sleep, placed us Brits in second place when it came to grabbing those all-essential ZZZs.

The analysis – carried out by EarlySense, that manufactures contact-free health monitoring sensors – illustrates that sleep can be an important indication of our health.

Avner Halperin, CEO of EarySense, explains: ‘Night-time is the best time to monitor our health because it builds a clear baseline in which fluctuations can be quickly detected. Any changes or abnormal readings indicate if we are getting healthier and in better shape, or provide advanced warnings of health disorders, including breathing disorders, fever or cardiac events.

‘Good sleep is a pillar of good health, and awareness is the first step toward improvement. Our solution is quickly gaining traction, helping people sleep better while improving their wellbeing.’

The data also indicates that the French sleep poorly, and breathing interruptions are identified more in overweight people and more in men than in women, with even small amounts of sleep deprivation can have large effects.

People with insomnia often suffer fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work.

Having prolonged periods of insufficient sleep has also been linked to significant increases in blood pressure during night-time hours.

Other serious health problems linked to poor sleep include a risk of Alzheimer’s, aggressive breast cancer, stroke and high blood pressure.

In the UK, it is estimated around 4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

An estimated 80% of patients with OSA remain undiagnosed, a substantial number of people may benefit from proper screening, diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnoea.

This can also lead to other nocturnal disturbances. Bruxism, for example, has been linked to OSA and it has been found that nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a symptom of stress or anxiety.

Often, an oral examination and a detailed medical history will shine a light on the problem.

Professor Simon Ash knows all about sleep disturbances and dental sleep medicine. As a consultant and specialist orthodontist, he has a special interest in sleep-related breathing disorders, TMJD and bruxism and currently works in London as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing snoring and sleep apnoea.

He explains: ‘Patients who have these sleep issues are very often looking for various treatment solutions but also have a fear of the unknown even though mouth-breathing, jaw parafunction or bruxism can present huge challenges in their everyday lives.

‘The area of TMD has always been confusing and unpredictable so earlier in my career I avoided this area of dentistry until I suddenly noticed amazing results treating patients with functional orthodontic devices and the Somnowell* mandibular advancement device.

‘Remember: the key is not to lose faith. You must appreciate the chronic long-term nature of these conditions and a quick fix is likely to be disappointing.

‘My number one piece of advice for patients who are seeking treatments is to seek expert professional help and go for reversible non-surgical approaches wherever possible. Also be prepared to have a consultation with an experienced professional.’

Sleep hygiene
‘Sleep hygiene’ is the phrase often used to describe the ideal conditions and environment that encourages good sleep patterns. Experts in the field suggest many actions that can be taken to encourage sleep. Dimming lights an hour before bed, making a bedroom peaceful and relaxing by keeping it clutter-free, and maintaining a constant temperature for sleep – 60-67 °F (16-19°C) – is ideal.
Turning off electronics while sleeping also helps because light receptors in the retina signal to the brain about the status of the outside world and this may affect sleep-wake rhythms. Other tips include going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, and avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.

 


Statistics
Average time to fall asleep:
- Men: 19 minutes; Women: 17 minutes
- Age: over 70: 20 minutes; 50-70: 18 minutes; Under 50: 19 minutes
- British: 20 minutes; German: 18 minutes; French: 19 minutes; Italian: 18 minutes


Average Total Time Slept (hours: minutes):
- Men: 6:30; Women: 6:49
- Age: over 70: 6:27; 50-70: 6:39; under 50: 6:34
- British: 6:51; German: 6:36; French: 6:21; Italian: 6:48

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