Ever since children, we all have had our elders tell us to go to bed early and wake up early. Childhood rules aside, each and every doctor and general physician advices us to get at least eight hours of sleep every day because sleep is not only essential for the normal functioning of our body, but a lack of it can lead to various life threatening mental as well as physical disorders.
Making certain lifestyle changes and prioritizing can help the busy ones get proper sleeps, but what about the people with sleeping disorders? More importantly, how can one understand which sleeping disorder they have and change it, considering the number of myths and false notions surrounding the very concept of sleeping disorders? Today, we will discuss some of the very basics of sleeping disorders and their effects on the human body.
What are sleeping disorders?
Sleeping disorders or somnipathy is condition in which a person’s normal sleeping pattern is disturbed due to various medical reasons. They usually tamper with a person’s body homeostasis, mental stability, and consequently, their social lives, but the degree to which sleep disorders affect a person various from one individual to another, along with a number of other factors.
What are the symptoms of having trouble sleeping?
Most people usually remain unaware when they have developed a sleeping disorder. Believe it or not, a regular disruption of your usual sleeping pattern also counts. For instance, some people may sleep for two hours for one week and then decide to make up by sleeping longer than the next day. This is not only not effective, but also harmful for the body.
Some of the common signs and symptoms that indicate a sleeping disorder are:
• Constant or recurring headaches and pain in the eyes.
• The person needs frequent medication to fall asleep.
• Their sleeping pattern is irregular broken, or they appear to wake up frequently during the night.
• Difficulty in falling back asleep after having woken up at night.
What are the most common sleeping disorders?
Medically, there are a large number of sleeping disorders that can affect an individual. Broadly, sleeping disorders can be categorized into three broad divisions- dyssomnias, parasomnias and circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
Dyssomnias include insomnia, the sleeping disorder found most commonly in patients. Parasomnias include unnatural behavioral or emotion patterns during sleep, and include bedwetting, teeth grinding and sleep walking among others. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders, on the other hand, include delayed and advanced sleep disorder.
What are effects of sleep disorders?
Sleeping is the body’s ability of coping with all the stress of the day. Not only that, but at night, when we sleep, our brains do a million different activities, including processing all of the information, storing memories and so on and so forth. Quite naturally, being unable to sleep due to any sleeping disorder can lead to a number of physiological and psychological disorders like:
• Serious heart conditions inducing increased risks of having a heart attack, irregular heartbeats or a mini stroke. Studies have shown that prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to increased risks of coronary heart disorders in women.
• Prolonged sleep deprivation is also the cause of obesity in people. It prompts the release of insulin, thereby storing more fat in the body than usual
• Sleep deficiency can affect your brain’s ability to process and store information as well as lead to loss of memory over time.
• People, who already suffer from hypertension, can also have raised blood pressure from even one day’s sleep deprivation.
• A recent sociological study shows that people who suffer from sleeping disorders or do not get enough sleep during their days, are more prone to alcohol abuse and developing alcohol dependence, particularly because alcohol has a sedative like effect on the body.
• Sleep disorders can also create hallucinations as well as other mental disorders like paranoia, manic depression and other personality disorders.
• The immune system is boosted and almost upgraded during the time that we sleep. Therefore, sleeping disorders can deteriorate your immune system, thereby compromising your body’s ability to fight foreign substances and making you more susceptible to diseases.
• Because sleep disorder leads to some many diseases and health problems, it effectively manages to shorten an individual’s life expectancy.
What causes insomnia?
The inability to fall asleep is called insomnia, and we all have suffered from light insomnia at least once during our lives, either during our exams, stressful times in our personal lives or some other causes. But a case of constant insomnia needs immediate medical attention. As a disorder, insomnia can occur due to a handful of reasons.
• Certain medications for allergies, high blood pressure, heart disorders etc. can cause insomnia.
• Excessive intake of stimulants like coffee (which contains caffeine) and smoking cigarettes (which contains nicotine).
• Disorders of the Central Nervous System (CNS) like Parkinson’s disease.
• Mental problems like anxiety or depression.
• Breathing disorders like asthma.
• Presence of another sleeping disorder.
• Stress at the job or personal life.
What is sleep apnea?
When an individual has some trouble breathing during the time that they sleep, it is called sleep apnea. Such disturbed breathing can mean a shortness of breath, which can last for 10 to 15 seconds and can happen over a hundred times during the time that you sleep. As a result of this, the individual tends to “jolt” out of their natural sleep pattern. The “deep sleep” state is not achieved during the sleeping time, which can lead to serious health problems like heart disorders, high blood pressure and even a mini stroke.
What are the most common sleep apnea symptoms?
Recognizing sleep apnea can be pretty straightforward, because majority of them include breathing problems. Nonetheless, the most common sleep apnea symptoms are:
• Loud snoring
• Frequent choking during the night.
• Inability to concentrate during the day.
• Waking up repeatedly at night.
• Irritability and mood swings.
• Lethargy and lack of will to move or work.
• Dryness of mouth on waking up.
Can sleep disorders affect people with dementia?
Absolutely. In fact, statistically over two thirds of the people affected by different types of dementia have irregular sleeping patterns. Basically, people with dementia perceive the world differently than people who do not have dementia. This means that their biological clocks and consequently, their body’s ability to tell the difference between day and night are tuned differently. As a result of this, most patients who suffer from dementia, either are unable to sleep during the night for a long stretch of time, fall asleep during the day or have fitful and restless periods of sleeping throughout the day.
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