Understanding Sleep Disorders; Including How to Manage

A good night’s sleep is critical to our health and well-being. This is for the body to restore and repair itself after a tiresome busy day. Lack of quality sleep could result in sleep disorders.

A sleeping problem has been a call for concern to many people especially if the problems keep repeating or are becoming severe day by day. Seeking medical assistance is the most advisable move as it can lead to serious consequences.

What is a Sleep Disorder?

This is a disorder that as the name suggests is related to sleep. It is a habit that is disrupting quality sleep, and timing during the night when the body needs to rest.

However, there are several types of sleep disorders that will be discussed below and their treatment solutions.

a) Insomnia

Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder that makes a person find it hard to fall asleep, or stay asleep as well as making one wake up earlier and find it hard to sleep again.

When someone is experiencing insomnia, you always feel like your body has been drained and no energy is left.

Insomnia case is a call for body health as it alters your body functioning and performance as well as the quality of life.

What are the causes of Insomnia?

There are several causes of insomnia that have been researched before and here are the major causes that are most common among insomnia patients

a) Stress

Stress is the same as the feeling of anxiety concerning daily events. It can either be from your place of work events, school, or even at home. Some office stress is like not submitting a given task at a given time or meeting the dateline making you worried about the outcome and pile up due to fear of getting fired.

Stress from school is failing to meet the datelines. Misunderstanding among family members, events like death, and sickness are the cause of stress experienced at home.

This will lead to being stressed while trying to find sleep.

b) Poor sleep habits

These are habits that make your sleeping schedule fluctuate. they are like spending too much time watching TV, playing video games, and also sleeping in an uncomfortable environment.

c) Late-night meals

Eating too much is usually associated with being uncomfortable especially when you eat too much, you might experience heartburn which will make you sleep uncomfortably.

Symptoms of insomnia

A symptom of insomnia varies from one person to another but here are some of the common symptoms;

  • Find it hard to fall asleep at night
  • Waking up earlier than usual and found it hard to sleep again.
  • Difficulty in focusing or paying attention
  • Sleepiness during working hours of the day
  • Waking up at night for no reason

Treatment of Insomnia

When you are experiencing the symptoms above and have come to the conclusion insomnia might be the cause of your sleeping problem, there is a medical recommendation that has been researched, and high chances of solving it can be achieved.

It is advisable to take medical sedatives which are normally referred to as benzodiazepines. It includes Ativa, Restoril, Doral, and Sonata.

Other home treatment practices include;

✔ Scheduling of bedtime and wake time.

✔ Make sure your sleeping environment is more comfortable and away from the noise

✔ Avoid heavy meals for dinner especially minutes before bed.

If you find this is not solving anything and you are still finding it hard to function during the day, it’s very advisable to seek medication from your doctor to diagnose the problem and find the right medication.

b) Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Snoring is producing the hoarse sound that accompanies breathing when sleeping and it is caused by vibrating tissues in the throat that are relaxed as a result of unconscious sleep.

Snoring is normal to many people but sometimes it can be a call for concern sometimes

Causes of Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Being overweight – People who are overweight may have an extra piece of tissue on the throat that is causing the airway to narrow.

Alcohol – Consumption of too much alcohol before bedtime causes a lot of snoring. This is because alcohol makes the body to be defenseless thus too much relaxation of throat muscles can occur.

Sleeping position – Position like sleeping on the back makes the airway narrow.

Nasal problem – Nasal congestion between nostrils may contribute to snoring.

Symptoms of snoring & Sleep Apnea

  • High blood pressure
  • Breathe pausing when asleep
  • Restless while asleep
  • Chest pains
  • Choking at night
  • Too much sleep during the day

Treatment of snoring & sleep apnea

There are several treatments for sleep apnea and most doctors consider continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as the most effective method.

Sometimes the doctors might advise or be forced to use a bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP or BPAP) machine when a person cannot tolerate CPAP.

Other practices that will help reduce sleep apnea include;

✔ Exercise to lose weight

✔ Avoid alcohol consumption before bedtime

✔ Avoid sleeping on your back

✔ Treat nasal congestion

c) Parasomnias

Parasomnias is a sleep disorder that usually occurs due to undesirable physical experiences disrupting your sleep.

These physical experiences are like abnormal movements, talking, expressing emotions, and doing things that are considered unusual while you are still asleep.

Most of these doings can be witnessed by your bed partner.

Causes of Parasomnias

  • The incomplete transition from being awake to sleep stage.
  • Lack of sleep or irregular bedtime schedule
  • Use of medication such as bupropion which is used to treat depression
  • Stress from workplace or home
  • Family gene, if one family member had, you are likely to experience
  • Head injury

Symptoms of Parasomnias

  • Difficulty sleeping at night
  • Experiencing movements, expressions which you will probably be informed by your partner who witnesses
  • Feeling tired during the day
  • Waking up confused
  • Finding bruises on your body which you cannot relate their cause

Treatment of Parasomnias

Treatment for parasomnias should always be considered by the underlying sleep disorders such as sleep apnea which is the main cause of parasomnias.

However, some practices below are considered the best treatment for the disorder;

✔ Follow good sleep hygiene and bedtime/waketime schedule

✔ Limit the use of alcohol and any other recreational drug

✔ Take all prescribed medicine

✔ Ensure your sleeping environment is safe

✔ Use medication such as benzodiazepines that are used to treat parasomnias

c) Sleep Paralysis

This is a type of sleep disorder that makes one aware of the surrounding after waking up but can’t move or speak. you can still move your eyes in what we call rapid eye movement (REM) and also can breathe but body movements are hindered for some seconds.

Causes of Sleep Paralysis

  • Shift work
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

  • Paralysis in your limbs
  • Fear
  • Inability to speak
  • Sleeping during the day
  • Hallucination

Treatment of Sleep Paralysis

Treatment of sleep paralysis is aimed at whatever causes it to occur. Sleep deprivation may trigger sleep paralysis. In this case, try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis.

Have a sleeping schedule and as well practice the following.

✔ Create a conducive sleeping environment

✔ Relax through exercising before bedtime

✔ Gadgets such as phones and computers should be placed far from where you sleep

d) Restless Leg Syndrome

This is a condition that results when one feels the urge to move the legs uncontrollably by being uncomfortable and mostly happens during sleep hours or evening.

Moving the legs will temporarily ease the unpleasant feeling.

Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome

There is no cause for restless leg syndrome but doctors always consider the brain sending a signal of body imbalance when someone sits or stands in a poor posture as the cause.

Hereditary from a family member can also be the cause as well as in ladies, pregnancy can cause due to hormonal changes.

Symptoms of restless leg syndrome

  • A sensation that begins when resting
  • Relief with movement
  • Symptoms worsen at night
  • Nighttime leg twitching

Treatment of restless leg syndrome

A medical recommendation for restless leg syndrome is the use of dopamine agonist which includes ropinirole, pramipexole, rotigotine skin patch. A mild opiate-based painkiller, such as codeine, may be prescribed to relieve pain associated with restless legs syndrome.

Some practices below are also recommended to reduce the disorder.

✔ Try bath and massaging

✔ Apply warm or  cool parks

✔ Establish a good sleep hygiene

✔ Exercise

✔ Avoid too much caffeine

e) Periodic Limb Movements

Periodic limb movement is a sleep disorder that involves repetitive jerking of legs during sleep and is considered a sleep disorder due to the fact that it disrupts sleep and can lead to daytime sleepiness.

Causes of periodic limb movement

It is normally caused by underlying medical problems.

Sometimes it can be linked to an abnormality in the regulation of nerves going from the brain to the limbs.

Symptoms of periodic limb movement

  • A slight movement can result in a strenuous activity
  • Movement can last up to 2 seconds.
  • Movements are repetitive and are rhythmic
  • Movements can happen from one night to be a regular habit

Treatment of periodic limb movement

Medical treatment that can either help you sleep through the movement is using drugs such as dopamine agonists, anticonvulsant medications, benzodiazepines, and narcotics and also practices shown below;

✔ Do a body massge especcilally legs

✔ See a medical practitioner when you start experiencing the first episodes of movement.

f) Circadian Disorders

This sleep disorder happens due to the alteration of the sleep-wake cycle of the body’s clock. It is mostly due to surrounding environmental factors

Causes of Circadian Disorders

  • Disruption of sleep pattern by events such as sleep habits, job, or travel
  • It can also be caused by aging or medical conditions.

Symptoms of Circadian Disorders

  • Extreme daytime sleepiness
  • Alertness is lowered
  • Having problems with memory
  • Poor decision making

Treatment of Circadian Disorders

Treatments include external stimulus therapy, such as bright light therapy or chronotherapy, and practicing below-home remedies;

✔ Scheduling of sleep time  and wake time

✔ Practicing sleep study

✔ Living a healthy sleeping lifestyle

g) Narcolepsy

It is a chronic sleep disorder that is characterized by being suddenly attacked by sleep and a feeling of drowsiness during the day.

It causes a lot of disruption during the day as one cannot concentrate for long without falling a sleep

Causes of Narcolepsy

  • Low level of hypocretin
  • Genetics
  • Possible exposure to a swine flu virus

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

  • Hallucination
  • Changes in the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
  • Falling asleep while performing a task
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

Treatment of Narcolepsy

Doctors often try Provigil or Nuvigil first for narcolepsy, as they are stimulants for the body’s nervous system.

The use of antidepressants such as Vivactic, Tofranil, and Anafranil is also very effective.

Diagnosis can be done or determined through;

✔ Sleep history

✔ Sleep records

✔ Multiple sleep latency test

Best Sleeping Habits

✔ Keep a consistent sleep schedule

✔ Create a relaxing bedtime routine — and stick with it

✔ Turn off electronic devices before you go to sleep

✔ Exercise regularly

✔ Limit your caffeine intake

✔ Make your sleep environment work for you

✔ Use your bed only for sleep and sex

✔ Go to bed only when you’re tired

✔ Limit napping — or avoid it if you can

✔ Manage stress before going to bed

Mattresses best for Sleeping Disorders

Below are mattresses, which best suited to buy when having problems while sleeping or are fit to buy when you are treating a sleeping disorder.

  • Live and Sleep Elite Full Gel Memory Foam Mattress in a Box – 12 Inch Double Size Firm Mattress, Cool Bed in a Box – CertiPUR Certified – Full
  • Live and Sleep Ultra 10 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress in A Box – Medium Balanced, Cool Bed in A Box, Certipur Certified – Advanced Body Support – Full Size
  • Queen Mattress, Naiveer 10 Inch Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress, Queen Size Mattress in A Box, Individually Wrapped Coils, CertiPUR-US Certified, Medium Firm Mattress for Back Pain & Pressure Relieve

Bottom Line

The effects of sleep disorders can be so devastating and disrupting or even sometimes causes a lot of discomfort to your health and can make you want immediate relief.

Short cases can be easily overcome when proper sleep hygiene is observed but long cases can take time to be resolved.

It is advisable to stick to a treatment plan and communicate regularly with your doctor.

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