It has been reported that over 70% of people above the age of 25 have either one or more sleeping disorders, the most common being insomnia and narcolepsy. This is a condition that affects your sleeping ability and results in changes in sleep patterns. They can be caused by health problems such as respiratory and heart diseases or anxiety and stress, in which case treating the underlying problem or cause of anxiety should alleviate the disorder. They are characterized by overall tiredness and irritability which incapacitates productivity and health.
Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
These symptoms vary with the type, severity and cause of the sleeping disorder. However, certain general symptoms cut across most if not all such disorders such as:
- Overall fatigue during the day which manifests as general tiredness and slow motions.
- Difficulty falling and remaining asleep throughout the night
- Anxiety and irritability
- Shortened concentration span
- Short and long term memory loss
- General sadness and depression
Types of sleep disorders.
This is difficulty in falling and remaining asleep. Commonly caused by stress, hormonal imbalances, jet-lag or digestive problems, insomnia is the most common sleeping disorder. There are three types of insomnia: Chronic Insomnia, where it occurs regularly on a periodic basis of at least monthly, intermittent insomnia, where occurrence is periodic and transient insomnia, where it lasts for a few nights at a time.
The effects of untreated insomnia include: Development of depression, weight gain, irritability and difficulty concentrating with short term memory loss. It can be managed by having a consistent sleeping schedule and a general improvement in sleeping habits, and improvements in bedroom like bed with Tempurpedic mattress in addition to pleasing environment
- Sleep Apnea
This is disruption of breathing during sleep characterized by pauses in breathing and snoring which leads to waking up at night. This condition is dangerous as it results in low oxygen levels in the body which could impair growth and development. It can be effectively managed by regular exercise, optimal nutrition weight loss and avoidance of alcohol and smoking in order to ease the strain on the respiratory system.
- Restless Leg Syndrome
This is a tingling sensation in the legs during sleep accompanied by an overwhelming urge to move the legs. It is commonly associated with ADHD, pregnancy and Parkinson’s disease and can be managed by cutting back on caffeine intake, regular exercise together with using a combination of foot wraps paired with cool and warm compressions.
These are disorders that are characterized by abnormal movements during sleep such as sleepwalking and sleep talking, nightmares, bed wetting and groaning and teeth grinding. These movements and behaviours lead to interrupted sleep which leaves your body feeling fatigued and makes you irritable. Some lifestyle changes that should reduce Parasomnias are getting a full night’s sleep every night with a consistent sleep-wake schedule and avoidance of drug and alcohol use. Parasomnias could be a manifestation of emotional uneasiness, hence, it would be helpful to talk to someone about them if they persist.
This is characterized by sudden extreme tiredness and drowsiness during the day and is associated with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis. This is very dangerous because it can easily result in motor accidents and machine handling mishaps. Management would be getting a sufficient amount of restful sleep at night and having a sleep schedule. Since it is mostly associated with neurological disorders, it is imperative to visit a doctor in the case of persistent re-occurrence for an accurate diagnosis and medical intervention.
Causes of sleep disorders
Sleep disorders often develop as a result of an underlying health condition or poor sleeping habits that lead to interrupted sleeping patterns. Such underlying health conditions include:
- Allergies and upper respiratory problems
Such conditions create difficulty in breathing at night which leads to snoring, and interrupted sleep. This can easily result in insomnia and sleep apnea. A home remedy would be buying a humidifier and making use of essential oils like lavender to ease breathing. However, it would be helpful to visit a physician on such problems in order to get a permanent solution.
- Chronic pain
This may be caused by arthritis, old age, persistent headaches, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia and any other health condition that is characterized by consistent pains and aches. It is important in the management of such health conditions, to use pain relievers that have been recommended by your physician after diagnosis. A quick fix is getting a mattress that is specifically suited for your ache such as temprupedic, side sleepers or even latex mattresses, depending on your ache.
- Anxiety and stress
This makes it difficult to not only fall but also stay asleep. Anxiety and stress has also been known to lead to nightmares and sleep talking which disrupt your sleep. It is important to have good quality rest in the evening for your health and functionality so it would be advisable to reduce the stress factors in your life
This refers to frequent urination which is likely to disrupt your sleep by prompting you to have frequent trips to the bathroom during the night. It would be helpful to avoid drinking large amounts of fluids before bed or visit a doctor if all else fails.
When sleep disorders are a result of an underlying condition, they are effectively treated upon treatment of the condition. On the other hand, when they are not caused by another condition, treatment would be a combination of lifestyle changes as discussed above, and prescribed medication. Diagnosis and subsequent treatment of sleeping disorders is extremely important in order to avoid the resulting health consequences associated with prolonged negative effects like sleep apnea which could lead to heart diseases, which are not as easily treated as the disorder. This is also important because most disorders impair school and work performance as well as making the individual a hazard to those around them. Therefore, if you suspect you have a sleeping disorder, make a point of visiting a qualified physician.