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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Sleep conditions, apnea etc


Skipman

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Has anyone ever seen mention of any sleep conditions in service records etc. I suffer from mild  'sleep apnea' myself and know how debilitating it can be. I wear a gum-shield device at night which helps keep the airways open (it does help)  It can affect anyone and is not confined to the unfit or overweight. I'm 5 foot 9" and 12 stone so probably slightly overweight, but, I think I have had this condition for many years. Was this, or any other 'sleep condition'  recognized as such, or, might a man with this just have to get on with it. I would imagine a tour of duty while suffering from this must have been very hard going.

 

Mike

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6 minutes ago, Skipman said:

Has anyone ever seen mention of any sleep conditions in service records etc. I suffer from mild  'sleep apnea' myself and know how debilitating it can be. I wear a gum-shield device at night which helps keep the airways open (it does help)  It can affect anyone and is not confined to the unfit or overweight. I'm 5 foot 9" and 12 stone so probably slightly overweight, but, I think I have had this condition for many years. Was this, or any other 'sleep condition'  recognized as such, or, might a man with this just have to get on with it. I would imagine a tour of duty while suffering from this must have been very hard going.

 

Mike

I haven't but I'm sure it must have happened, especially in a stressful environment (I think the Greeks were the first to record night terrors)
 

(I do suffer with night terrors and often wake up choking and gasping from my sleep - triggered by stress usually)

Craig

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I used to suffer from them too Craig, and sleep paralysis, but apnea is different, in that, you don't know you're stopping breathing while sleeping. I was stopping breathing 60-70 times an hour, and that's mild.  (though I often do wake up gasping) The net effect is exhaustion through lack of 'deep-sleep' and one is permanently knackered. It must have been hell for a sufferer.

 

Mike

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1 minute ago, Skipman said:

I used to suffer from them too Craig, and sleep paralysis, but apnea is different, in that, you don't know you're stopping breathing while sleeping. I was stopping breathing 60-70 times an hour, and that's mild.  (though I often do wake up gasping) The net effect is exhaustion through lack of 'deep-sleep' and one is permanently knackered. It must have been hell for a sufferer.

 

Mike


Sleep problems are far from a pleasant thing to suffer from (I always check the cause of the gasping isn't a pillow...). Lack of sleep causes terrors/paralysis, paralysis/terrors cause lack of sleep.

I would image that PTSD caused a lot of sleep problems as well and without anything else the noise in some areas must have ruined the sleep of many. It must have made a huge contribution to the number of men who suffered nervous breakdowns, lack of sleep certainly causes mental breakdown after a while even without extra stress factors. \

I'm sure there must be some papers somewhere, possibly in the Lancet - https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008897232

Craig

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PubMed is better for free access searching than Hathi Trust (and links to PDFs when articles are available). This is a search on sleep patterns 1914-1918 - not perfectly accurate but should include relevant material.

 

https://europepmc.org/search?query=sleep patterns 1914-1918

 

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Exellent seajane, thank you. This particular article Click is very useful to me, and, contains this

" During the American War of Independence (1775–1783) and later during World War I (1914–1918), soldiers were advised to wear their rucksacks (filled with a bulky mass) while sleeping in order to avoid sleeping on their backs and reduce snoring so as to avoid making their position known to the enemy.  "

 

Mike

 

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Glad to be able to help :)

I have often wondered why snoring survives - it seems very evolutionarily unsound.

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1 minute ago, seaJane said:

Glad to be able to help :)

I have often wondered why snoring survives - it seems very evolutionarily unsound.

 

You sure unsound is the right word? I can assure you it's a curse

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Evolutionarily unhelpful? ;)

 

Just last night I slew my wife,

Stretched her on the parquet flooring; 

I was loth to take her life,

But I had to stop her snoring.

 

(Harry Graham, Ruthless Rhymes)

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4 hours ago, Skipman said:

I used to suffer from them too Craig, and sleep paralysis, but apnea is different, in that, you don't know you're stopping breathing while sleeping. I was stopping breathing 60-70 times an hour, and that's mild.  (though I often do wake up gasping) The net effect is exhaustion through lack of 'deep-sleep' and one is permanently knackered. It must have been hell for a sufferer.

 

Mike

 

I hate to worry you Mike. Are you sure of your figures? On the scale on which I was tested 30 or more "events" is classed as severe. I tested at over 36.

Apart from being fairly permanently knackered, you lose concentration and some people can have mini blackouts if not treated. Hence you have to notify the DVLA and your insurance company.

 

Was sleep apnea as such known about in WW1? I didn't really know about it until diagnosed. (For those of you who have read Thurber, the eccentric cousin in The Night the Bed Fell on Father rather puts you off the idea that you might be stopping breathing while asleep!)

 

I'm sure I have seen other sleep conditions mentioned in WW1.

 

RM

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Thanks RM. Not certain now, whatever the figures were, I was 'mild' and DVLA happy now am using device. Never fallen asleep, just physically tired. 

 

Have never seen sleep mentioned, other than, lack of it. Often wondered how a man with a cold, would get on on patrol/raid etc with sneezing or coughing.

 

Mike

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When I was in the army many many moons ago you simply were not allowed on a night patrol if you had a cold or sneezes, hiccups etc. as you might give your patrols position away.

Len

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Spoke with an elderly lady at a talk I did years ago whose father had been a Great War veteran; the story really tugged at me

 

Her and her siblings had never understood why Daddy slept in his 'private place' the garden when they were really young. Turned out that he'd dug a small trench at the top of his veg patch and could only sleep there for years after he returned from the war.

 

He woke up one morning and one of his daughters was cuddled up with him in just her nightie despite it being sub zero. In his case, that seemed to be the thing that snapped him out of the habit as they almost lost her from pneumonia.

 

As a side note, one of the family jokes was what a mistake it had been to get him in from the cold, as he snored like a freight train once he returned to sleeping indoors and was a ****** to wake up!

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I agree; have heard quite a few over the years but usually third hand. 

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