Sleep is an important part of a healthy living and inadequate sleep can result in various chronic medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and even weight gain. Research also indicates an association between sleep restriction and negative changes in metabolism. The observational studies suggest a link between sleep restriction and obesity. One of the explanations is that sleep duration tends to affect the hormones that are responsible for regulating hunger. Therefore, it is important for an individual to have at least 6-8 hours of sleep a day for the body to function normally.
World sleep day was created by a group of healthcare providers and people working and studying in the field of sleep medicine and research. The intention of the first world sleep day was to discuss and distribute sleep information globally. Now, this annual event aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society, with the prevention and better management of sleep disorders. This year’s theme of World Sleep Day is ‘Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging.’ For those interested in getting involved to spread the awareness, connect here with the World Sleep Day and becoming a delegate. Also, you can let people around you know how a good sleep has helped you by using #WorldSleepDay and to connect with those also celebrating their restfulness. Enjoy a good sleep and have a happy World Sleeping Day!
Sleeping disorders are the changes in the way an individual sleeps that can affect their overall health and quality of life. Not getting enough sleep can not only affect your daily tasks such as the ability to drive safely but can also increase the risk of other health problems. There are many types of sleep disorders which are grouped based on behaviors, breathing issues and problems with the natural sleep-wake cycles. Some of the common ones includes obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), restless leg syndrome, REM sleep behavior disorder and narcolepsy. Most sleeping disorders can effectively be treated once diagnosed.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
There are various types of sleep apnea and the common one is obstructive sleep apnea which potentially is a serious condition that causes the breathing to stop and start during sleep. This form of apnea occurs when the muscles of the throat relax and block the airway during sleep. Some of the common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include loud snoring, episodes of breathing that stops during sleep, abrupt awakenings with choking, excessive daytime sleepiness, mood-changes such as irritability, nighttime sweating, high blood pressure and decreased libido. Not everyone who snores have obstructive sleep apnea, however, it is important to discuss this with your physician. In mild cases, lifestyle changes such as drinking alcohol moderately, using a nasal decongestant or losing weight could help with the condition. Alternatively, severe cases may require a surgical removal of the tissue from the back of the mouth and the top of the throat in a procedure called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.
Insomnia is characterized by an individual’s difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep even when they have the opportunity to do so. The acute insomnia is brief and occurs because of various circumstances in one’s life such as after a bad news or because of stress. This is a common form of insomnia that many people experience but tends to resolve on its own without the need for treatment. Chronic insomnia is considered when it occurs at least three times per week lasting for minimum three months. This can happen because of certain medications, unhealthy sleeping habits or psychiatric issue. Based on the history of insomnia, its cause, the physician will then discuss with you about best treatment plan.
Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)
Formerly known as nocturnal myoclonus, it is characterized by the repetitive limb movements happening during sleep resulting in sleep disruption. It most frequently occurs in light non-REM sleep. This condition tends to be prevalent in majority of people with restless legs syndrome (RLS) and people over the age of 60. Also, some of the medical conditions associated with PLMD include diabetes, spinal cord injury and iron deficiency. There is no cure for PLMD and the current treatment options include dopamine agonist which provides relief from the symptoms. Also, the use of caffeine or caffeine-containing products such as tea and chocolates should be avoided.
REM sleep behavior disorder
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior is characterized by the unpleasant dreams with sounds resulting in dream-enacting behavior. The symptoms can include movements such as jumping from bed or kicking in response to dreams such as defending one’s self or being chased. Around 20% of sleep is spent in REM sleep, a stage of sleep that can happen several times during the night. This disorder can often be gradual and can get worse with time. Normally, the nerve pathways in the brain prevent the muscles from moving are active during normal REM sleep which results in a person experiencing temporary paralysis. But, among people with this disorder, these pathways don’t function normally resulting in the individuals acting out their dreams. Also, this disorder could also be associated with other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or Lewy body dementia. The treatment usually consists of physical safeguards such as placing barriers on the side of the bed or removing dangerous objects from the bedroom and with the use of medications which can help reduce the symptoms.
Some tips to make sure you have a good sleep
- As the bedroom is your sanctuary from the stresses of the days, it is important to make sure it is also a relaxing environment
- Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, clean and a dark space with fresh air
- Perhaps you can make a resolution on the World Sleep Day to limit alcohol intake particularly in the evening and also to include a balanced diet
- Reduce using phones or laptops before sleep time
- Choose the right mattress that can help support your back
- Improper support for the head can affect your posture which in turn can disturb your sleep
- Before bed time, try some relaxation techniques for better sleep