According to research, Britain is the third country in the world with the most insomniacs with the USA and Germany topping the charts. Some 90% of the people experiencing depression suffer from insomnia (both statistics from “Sleep Cottage.com”).
Statistically, out of 48 millions registered drivers in the UK, up to 2 million are overtired and drive whilst too sleepy to be behind the wheel safely!
Are you one of the 2 million drivers in denial who need to be persuaded they need help in the first place?*
A sophrologist's approach
As a qualified sophrologist, I am particularly interested in helping my clients with their sleep questions by exploring awareness of our sleep issues, implementing some changes to our routines and practising helpful sophrology techniques. I am also a firm believer in learning more about our wellbeing and about adopting a proactive approach in assessing our needs.
I invite you to explore the quick method for evaluating your risk of suffering of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (also spelt Apnoea in some instances), a potentially serious condition which can impair your health and even warranty a driving licence suspension.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
OSA is characterised by numerous pauses in breathing and / or shallow breathing during sleep and your upper airway collapsing causing you to stop breathing.
When this happens, your brain will automatically wake you up, usually with a very loud snore or snort, in order to breathe again. Commonly, the partner notices the OSA first as the sufferer’s snoring is loud enough to keep them awake even if in a different room.
In Canada, it is estimated that 82% of men and 92% of women with moderate-to severe OSA have not been diagnosed. (http://www.stopbang.ca/osa/general.php). Numbers in the UK may very well be as high as in Canada.
Why assessing for OSA is important
- For your general health
Medical help is required to fully assess OAS and get adequate help: nasal strips, mouth guards, special masks known as a CPAP machine or even corrective surgery (for example for a collapsed soft palate).
- For your safety as a driver
The STOP Bang questionnaire (online link below)
If you have some issues with your sleep, are experiencing any number of difficulties in your daily life as a result and are reluctant or unsure as to whether you need to see your doctor, have a go at the “STOP Bang” questionnaire.
This screening tool is used the world over: see websites of sleep clinics in all continents.*** To check where your nearest sleep clinic is in the UK, you can go on the British Lung Foundation’s site at www.blf.org.uk.
The fairly odd name is in fact an acronym made up of the different areas you need to review for an initial assessment.
S is for Snoring (how loud, how long for, how often?);
T is for Tiredness (occasional, all the time, enough for you to fall asleep when you should be awake, when driving?);
O is for Observation (has someone observed you experiencing episodes of sleep apnoea?);
P is for (blood) Pressure (are you treated for high blood pressure?).
B is for BMI (a high BMI is the most powerful variable influencing an individual risk and severity of OSA according to the American Sleep Association);
A is Age;
N is Neck (or more precisely neck circumference) and finally,
G is Gender since men are more likely to experience episodes of OSA.
Depending on the results you get after completing the STOP Bang questionnaire, especially if you have a score above 3, please discuss this with your GP who may refer you to a sleep clinic for a medical assessment.
How Sophrology can help prevent the high costs of sleep apnea
The practice of sophrology can greatly improve your sleep quality, first of all by reducing your stress levels.
A session on sleep preparation can make you aware of what's happening during the sleep cycles and help you find instinctively how a simple physical movement can help you fall asleep again. Sophrology can help with acceptance and relaxation.
Accepting you are experiencing sleep issues with Sophrology
The very fact of starting a Sophrology therapy course can trigger the process of: looking for practical ways to help yourself, taking steps to explore wellbeing avenues, contacting your GP if necessary and learning more about your issues generally.
A few years ago, when I was still training, I had a “guinea pig” who had suffered from insomnia for decades. He had ignored the impact of insomnia on his busy life and the semi-permanent feeling of exhaustion experienced as a result. The moment he decided to help himself however, he made fast progress towards better sleeping habits and patterns. He got on well with some underlying principles of Sophrology such as an objective approach, a desire to enhance the positive as well as the fact of using the body (breathing, visualising, moving in certain ways) to calm the mind.
Whichever route you take however, I would urge you not to ignore your sleep issues, especially if you are experiencing OSA.
Joëlle Williams Dupuy
* “Driving with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea”, an article and accompanying video presented by Doctor Sophie West to the British Sleep Society on 17 October 2018 where Doctor West estimates up to 5% of drivers in the UK are undiagnosed.
** Leaflet INF159 produced by the DVLA https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tiredness-can-kill-advice-for-drivers
*** “Obstructive Sleep Apnea: what an anesthesiologist should know?”, Frances Ching & al, Anesthesiology 2008 and BJA 2012. Doctor Chung was primarily interested in assessing the risks of anaesthesia and OSA as well as devising some diagnostic tools to help assess patients.
Find the test here for instant assessment: https://britishsnoring.co.uk/stop_bang_questionnaire.php