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Sleep Disorders and How to Manage Them

by | Health

Jul 6, 2022

Many of us, both adults and children alike, face health challenges that can be overwhelming. These health challenges can cause a condition called sleep disorders.

Sleep disorders, like any other health challenges, are known to affect the general well-being and sometimes lifespan of both adults and children alike. Their effects are usually not physical, but they exist to put a lot of unnecessary stress on the body and mind and do not let up. They are so potentially grave that living with them can make it very hard to lead a regular life.

There are many kinds of disorders; eating disorders, sleeping disorders, phobic disorders, etc. Each affects different aspects of your internal and social environment. These disorders can alter the routine of your day-to-day activities and cause you so much stress if they are not treated or managed properly.

One of the most irritating and potentially deadly disorders you could ever develop is a sleep disorder.

Sleepytime is generally considered a sacred daily ritual among contemporary adults who usually do not get enough of it. And that is a big part of what makes sleep disorders so dreaded. Sleep disorders are generally notorious for the relative discomfort they are capable of causing in what should be otherwise peaceful situations.

There is factual proof that every individual essentially develops one or two sleep disorders at least once in their lives. But the real bummer of this whole situation is not that they are so unavoidable but because these sleep disorders are generally incurable.

Read: 10 Early Signs of Dyslexia in Young Children

Why Are Sleep Disorders So Hard to Treat?

Most sleep disorders usually require the help of specific physicians or medical professionals to manage the ailment properly. The idea behind this requirement is that sleeping disorders are some of the naturally occurring health problems, and therefore they can not be tackled head-on by specific medicine.

Sleep disorders can not be classified as an ailment like fever, where there is a vector and physical symptoms to show for it. But instead, all you get is a general warning that may be easy to miss until your symptoms get out of control.

It is easy to mistake an inability to sleep for mere tiredness. This is because most people today live their lives on the run. Rushing from one activity to the next, hopping from one job to the other, and as such, get tired most of the time.

So you never even notice the difference between inadequate sleep and natural fatigue until it becomes a big deal.

Sleep disorders are, therefore, not only hard to treat but also to diagnose in the first place. It can be hard to miss them, but your body being the efficient machine that it is, will always leave you with cues about your well-being. And yes, this includes warnings related to sleeping disorders.

Here are the five most common sleeping disorders, how you can tell you have them before they overripen, and what to do if you notice them sneaking up your sleeping routine.

Insomnia

Based on the National Sleep Foundation guidelines, the general daily requirement for the sleep duration of an average adult is about 8 hours. Now imagine getting four hours of sleep every day or less.

Insomnia is a disorder that generally affects the ability of your body to rest or sleep. An average insomniac gets between 2 and 6 hours of sleep daily, and this is not nearly enough sleep.

The Director of Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer, stresses that not getting enough sleep or sleeplessness accumulates hidden health hazards.

Insomnia, also known as sleeplessness, could be caused by any number of issues such as stress, anxiety, or a mental disorder such as depression. Depending on the intensity, your insomnia could range between minor sleeplessness and a complete inability to sleep.

Read: 10 Dopamine Effects in Your Body You Should Know

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Common Warnings

Some common symptoms of insomnia are:

Suitable Remedies

Use Sleep Medication

These could range from over-the-counter medicine such as Benzodiazepines to more effective sleeping drugs such as melatonin. Ensure you do not abuse these drugs because that would probably only worsen your condition.

Questions about your treatment or medicine are vital to helping you understand your options. Any kind of drug abuse is never helpful for the problem you are trying to treat. So always consult your family physician to ensure you have a better option.

Alter Your Lifestyle

Try to take caffeinated beverages less often than you usually do. Do not just stop taking caffeinated but also alcoholic drinks too. One important thing you also need to include in your lifestyle activity is exercise. You ought to practice doing other activities that release sleep hormones and relieve stress from your day-to-day activities.

Restless Legs Syndrome

It may sound like an enchantment from a Disney movie, but it is not. I imagine (if you do not already know about it) that you pictured a person running at an unrealistic pace. Not being able to control his feet, but rest assured, that is not the case here.

Willis-Ekbom disease, also known as restless legs syndrome, is a condition that causes you to want to move your legs during sleepy times or periods when the body naturally rests. This condition is characterized by sudden bouts of uncontrollable leg movements when in a state of rest.

Common Warnings

The general diagnosis of this disorder is an uncontrollable movement of the hind limbs that are not necessarily triggered by any pre-existing conditions—a sudden annoying twitching of the legs. If you notice this recurring pattern, you should probably see a doctor.

Suitable Remedies

There are majorly two remedy categories for restless leg syndrome, they are:

Non-Medication Therapy

This kind of treatment involves the consistent use of non-drug substances to reduce the symptoms of RLS. You could use the help of; vibrating pads, regular massages, heating socks, etc., to lessen your symptoms.

Medication Therapy

On the other hand, you could seek medical assistance, depending on the prime cause of your RLS. You can use pain relievers prescribed by your family doctor for the treatment if your RLS is a by-product of another disease that comes with pain.

REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

To understand this disorder, you would first have to understand the definition of REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement Sleep or REM sleep is a period during sleep, after two hours or so, when your body entirely enters a dream state.

It is the period of sleep that you usually do not remember entering, and you can tell by rapid eye movements inside the closed eyelids. Your body usually has a failsafe, which causes it to paralyze itself whenever you are in REM sleep so that you do not act out your dreams or nightmares.

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During a REM sleep behavior disorder, the things you do in your sleep may translate to real actions. The actions you perform could be as small as flailing and whispering and as big as screaming or walking. It is in this state that sleepwalking becomes a thing. A sleepwalker would go up and about and only think they were in a dream or sleeping peacefully in bed.

Read: What Is Alzheimer’s Disease? Symptoms And Challenges

Common Warnings

The most common symptom of this condition is a series of uncontrollable movements that can range from minor to extremely violent. The latter causes harm to you and those around you during sleep.

Another probable symptom is daytime fatigue, as you spend most of your REM sleep struggling and, therefore, exhausting yourself.

Suitable Remedies for this Sleep Disorder

A study shows that medications such as melatonin can help treat REM sleep disorder.

Methods to minimize injury include putting pads on hard surfaces, creating barriers, etc.

You have to reduce the intake of substances or activities of any triggering phenomena. Substances and activities like these include films, music, drugs, or events that you know could make your dreams more violent.

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea is an especially prevalent issue among men. It is characterized by a general difficulty breathing during periods of sleep. It causes you to feel tired even after sleeping for long hours because the body did not retain enough oxygen the night before.

There are two types of sleep apnoea: the first is obstructive sleep apnoea, which develops due to obstructions to the airways during sleep. It happens when the walls of the throat press against each other, usually when you are on your back.

One distinct symptom of this disorder is snoring, which is why it might seem as though men snore the most.

It can be due to morphological reasons, such as a deviated septum or chunky neck. It can also be due to health complications such as nasal congestion and obesity.

Central sleep apnoea, the second type, occurs as a result of the brain not passing the right synapses that incur your muscles to draw in air.

Common Warnings

Snoring

Sleep apnoea is a disorder that is characterized by regular and random bouts of snorting, gurgling, and chortling. The reason for this is due to an apparent obstruction of the airways. This obstruction causes air and saliva to build up in the mouth.

Snoring can range between 5 and 30 times every sixty minutes. This means you’d find yourself struggling for air and, as a result, would not get the right amount of sleep.

Shortness of Breath

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Even during the day, you could find yourself struggling to breathe. It can either be due to a psychosomatic reaction or the same morphological changes that induce your sleep apnoea.

Tiredness

If you spend most of your nights struggling to draw in enough air, you will most likely wake up tired. Many people with sleep apnoea and related sleeping disorders spend a whole lot of time ‘sleeping’ and still wake up to overwhelming fatigue.

Read: 10 Common Work from Home Ergonomic Hazards to Avoid

Suitable Remedies For This Sleep Disorder

Lifestyle Alterations

Some life choices could increase your risk of sleep apnea. It could be that you overwork or consume way too much cholesterol for your good. Whatever it is, you should identify and address it before it gets too late.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

It is a kind of psychological therapy that helps condition you into undertaking some other form of alternatives.

If you have sleep apnoea, several ways—sleeping positions, breathing techniques, etc. – could improve your sleep. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will teach you how and when to maintain such habits.

Surgical Operations

When the morphological cause of your sleep apnoea is a prominent one, the most optimal treatment option is usually to undergo surgery. For example, if your septum has so deviated that it does not let you get enough air, you might have to undergo surgery.

Narcolepsy

It is a potentially malignant condition that can drastically affect how you sleep. It is a chronic sleep disorder that causes the sufferer’s brain to suddenly fall asleep at the most inopportune times of day while performing regular activities such as eating, reading, or even walking.

During a narcoleptic attack, all the muscles in the body suddenly grow weaker and slack off in a condition known as cataplexy. The combination of the aforementioned leads to a sudden loss of memory, followed by a rapid reduction in muscle tone.

An average narcoleptic does not need a whole hour to enter REM sleep and can go there within seconds, or even with their eyes still open. It makes it daunting for them to perform daily tasks.

Experts do not know why narcolepsy occurs but have linked it to the culmination of many brain defects.

Common Warnings

Some usual warnings of narcolepsy include:

Sleep Paralysis

It is an overwhelming feeling of intense immobility experienced during sleeping hours. It usually occurs due to rapid awakening while still in REM sleep. It causes your mind to wake up while your body struggles to catch up suddenly.

Sleep paralysis can come with or without hallucinations.

Oversleeping During the Day

This is also known as excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS. EDS is the most common sign of narcolepsy. It happens when you find yourself sleeping a whole lot more than usual during the day.

Cataplexy

It is an involuntary muscle weakness that causes parts of your body to droop. The activities that trigger this condition are muscle-stressing activities such as grinning, frowning, or displaying terror.

Suitable Remedies For This Sleep Disorder

Although narcolepsy has no known cure, there are ways that you could manage the condition so that it does not pose an existential threat to you and those around you. Here are some ways below:

Use Antidepressants and Pitolisants

Antidepressants are those drugs that a physician usually administers to stabilize the REM sleep cycle of a person suffering from an ailment. Pitolisants are specially administered medications that a physician uses to treat sleep disorders related to narcolepsy.

Monitor Your Narcoleptic Attacks and Create Strict Schedules Around Them

It is necessary to take note of the times of the day when you usually lose consciousness and their chronological duration. For example, if you know that you get uncontrollably sleepy in the early afternoon, you should narrow down the time further and further until it is almost exact. After that, you should create a small roster around the times of your narcolepsy so that it does not interfere with your regular life. [5]

Disclaimer: The article is not written to substitute professional medical direction, diagnosis, or treatment. It’s for informational purposes only. You should consult your family doctor before starting any medical program or taking any medicine.

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