Sleep Disorders & The Power of Sleep

“ You can’t perform at your best unless you give your body time to rejuvenate during sleep, says Rachel Salas, M.D. , an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine.”

What Are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis. It is secondary to health problem or by too much stress, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly high in developing countries.

Most people experience sleeping problems due to stress, hectic schedules, and the outer influence.

Depending on the type of sleep disorder, people may have difficult time falling asleep and may feel extremely tired throughout the day. The lack of sleep can have a negative impact on energy, mood, concentration, and overall health.

What Are The Different Types of Sleep Disorders?

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Narcolepsy

What is Insomnia?

Girl Using Smartphone on Bed Before Sleeping. Mobile Addict Concept. Disappointed Sad Woman Holding Mobile Phone. Sleepy Exhausted Woman. Insomnia, Nomophobia, Sleep Disorder Concept.

Inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep.

It causes:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired work or school performance

Classification of Insomnia:

  • Chronic – When insomnia happens on a regular basis for at least 1 month
  • Intermittent – When insomnia occurs periodically
  • Transient – When insomnia lasts just for a few nights at a time

Symptoms of Insomnia:

  • Difficulty falling asleep.
  • Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep.
  • Waking up too early in the morning.
  • Having unrefreshing sleep.
  • Having at least one daytime problem such as fatigue, sleepiness, problems with mood, concentration, accidents at work or while driving due to poor sleep.

Insomnia affects 50% of adult population.

Short-term or acute insomnia can be caused by life stresses, an illness, or environmental factors such as light, noise, or extreme temperatures.

Long-term or chronic insomnia (insomnia that occurs at least three nights a week for at least three months or longer) can be caused by factors such as depression, chronic stress and pain or discomfort at night.

What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnoea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep.

There are two types of sleep apnoea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the more common of the two. It is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
    Symptoms: snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, restlessness during sleep, gasping for air while sleeping and trouble concentrating.
  • Central sleep apnoea (CSA), the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to tell the body to breathe. This type is called central apnoea because it is related to the function of the central nervous system. People with CSA may gasp for air but mostly report recurrent awakenings during night.

The Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder that causes an intense, often irresistible urge to move the legs.

This sensation is brought on by resting such as lying down in bed, sitting for prolonged periods. RLS typically occurs in the evening, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It can be associated with problems with daytime sleepiness, irritability and concentration.

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder of sleep regulation that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime.

Narcolepsy usually begins between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can become apparent at any age. In many cases, narcolepsy remains undiagnosed and, therefore left untreated.

How Do We Diagnose Sleep Disorders?

Discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

If your healthcare provider suspects that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may refer you to a sleep disorder clinic. A sleep specialist will review your symptoms and may suggest that you undergo a sleep study.

A sleep study or polysomnogram (PSG) is a test that electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep.

It is also important to keep a sleep diary so that you can discuss the different patterns and characteristics cs of your sleep with your doctor.

How Are Sleep Disorders Treated?

  • Counselling: Some sleep specialists recommend cognitive behaviour therapy. It helps you “recognize, challenge and change stress-inducing thoughts” that can keep you awake at night.
  • Medications and/or supplements.
  • Practice sleep hygiene.
  • Medications may be helpful after discussing with your doctor in some cases of insomnia, including melatonin, zolpidem, zaleplon, eszopiclone
  • Restless legs syndrome can be treated with gabapentin, gabapentin enacarbil, or pregabalin
  • Narcolepsy may be treated with a number of stimulants or wake-promoting medications, such as modafinil, armodafinil, pitolisant and solriamfetol.

How Do You Practise Good Sleep Hygiene?

“. . . sleep and watchfulness, both of them when immoderate constitute disease”

Hippocrates c 400BC

Pay attention to your sleep hygiene and set yourself up for better sleep for a healthier life ahead.

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