Sleep deprivation is something that many people suffer from every day. Going to work after getting very little sleep and performing at your best is difficult when you wish you could take a nap half way through the day! Let’s take a look at some of the most common sleep disorders and the various treatments available.
The most common sleep disorder is insomnia. Insomnia occurs when someone has difficulty falling or staying asleep for certain periods of time leaving them with symptoms of fatigue, the inability to concentrate fully, low energy levels and mood changes. Insomnia can be divided into two categories, the first being acute insomnia. This occurs when someone struggles to sleep due to certain circumstances such as nerves before an exam or upon receiving stressful news. This is usually resolved on its own without the need to seek treatment. The second category, chronic insomnia, is different as it usually occurs more frequently – at least three times a week over a period of at least three months. This condition could be a result of various circumstances, such as working irregular hours, changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep habits, specific medications or clinical disorders. It can also be related to other medical conditions such as asthma, arthritis and chronic pain to name a few. These conditions either cause insomnia or the symptoms related to these conditions prevent people from getting enough sleep.
Please contact your doctor if you feel that you suffer from some form of insomnia, he/she will be able to guide you through further testing, medication, cognitive therapy, advising on healthy sleep habits and other sleep specialists that may assist.
Sleep apnoea is a serious yet common condition that causes someone to stop breathing during sleep. The airway continually becomes blocked thus limiting the amount of air that reaches the lungs. This occurs as the tissue at the back of the throat collapses. When lying on one’s back, the muscles of the upper airway relax and gravity causes the tongue to fall back, which results in loud snoring and choking noises. As there is no oxygen reaching the brain, the person will wake up – this can range from a few to a hundred times a night. This leads to fatigue and lack of concentration throughout the working day. The body is tired as a result of waking up throughout the night, many times of which you were not aware.
This disorder could result in many other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and depression. However, it can be treated in various ways. CPAP therapy involves wearing a mask which keeps the airway open with a constant stream of air ensuring that you get a full restful night of sleep. Oral appliances can also assist by holding the tongue or supporting the jaw in the correct position. These are similar to a mouth guard or retainer. Surgery is another option if the other treatments are unsuccessful.
Restless legs syndrome is a condition whereby the person has an overwhelming urge to move their legs and this discomfort makes it difficult to fall asleep. People describe restless legs as having burning or itching sensations in their legs, once they move or get up this discomfort disappears. If you suffer from this disorder please do not ignore it. Seek treatment, otherwise symptoms can become more severe and frequent. People with severe cases of this disorder get less than five hours sleep per night whilst milder cases do not affect sleep to such a large extent; however the sleep will be of a poorer quality. Again, this disorder will result in fatigue during the day, irritability and lack of concentration and can later result in depression and anxiety.
Treatment for restless legs includes both behavioural therapy and medications. Behavioural therapy includes enjoying regular light exercise such as walking or bike riding – this may relieve symptoms – however, too much strenuous activity can increase the symptoms. Stress reduction activities such as meditation and yoga before bed, as well massaging your legs and soaking them in a hot bath can be helpful. Alcohol, smoking and caffeine can also aggravate restless legs and should be avoided. Medications are also available to assist with this disorder. Please consult with your doctor for these treatments.
Here are a few helpful tips for healthy sleeping habits :
Try these tips to ensure a more restful night of sleep thus ensuring that you are able to be productive the next day. Please remember that there are many people who suffer from sleep disorders – you are not alone and the right treatment can help improve your quality of life.