Over 70 million Americans people suffer from a variety of sleep disorders. The condition of sleep disorders is very complex and ranges from mild to extremely severe forms. There are many underlying causes for insomnia. There are also many ways to get help for your insomnia condition.
Insomnia Types: According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there are 11 types of sleep disorders. What they all have in common is poor sleep quality. Some originate from the body. Hypersomnia is characterized by a feeling of continual sleepiness throughout the day. People will feel the need to nap frequently. They will also sleep long hours nightly but still have low energy in the morning. This disorder can last several months to a year. There is also a recurrent form that can appear suddenly at different times in the person’s life. Narcolepsy is a very serious disorder which can include a condition known as “cataplexy” where the body’s muscles will suddenly weaken. Narcolepsy can cause a person to actually be asleep while continuing a behavior as if they were wide awake. This is known as “automatic behavior”. Clearly narcolepsy poses a danger to the sufferer as well as to others if for example the individual is driving when this episode occurs. Restless Leg Syndrome: This involves involuntary movement of the legs during sleep as well as during waking hours. Sleep Apnea: This disorder involves intermittent breathing where a person can stop breathing for a few seconds. It can be mild or severe. Many times obesity is a causative factor in sleep apnea.
External factors causing sleep disorders: Use of Medications and Stimulants: Often times sleeping disorders are brought on by the use of various stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. Some prescriptions drugs can also impair your sleeping. Not Getting Adequate Sleep: This is the most common and easily correctable cause. Many people simply do not get sufficient sleep because of their busy lifestyles. Poor Sleeping Environment: Often people can’t sleep well because they sleep in an environment that is not conducive to sleeping. For example, there can be too much noise and light for restful sleep. Again these are factors that should be easily corrected so that you can return to a normal sleep pattern.
There is a third group of sleep disorders characterized by abnormal rhythm patterns. Jetlag is an example of this. When you have jetlag the change in time zones affects your perceptions of the actual time. This is a change in rhythm and the body needs time to readjust to its normal rhythmic patterns. Symptoms of jetlag can include confusion and extreme fatigue. It normally goes away after a few days. Shift Work disorder: This results from being forced to adapt to unnatural sleep patterns. It often affects people who work on a night shift schedule. These sleep patterns can be returned to normal when the person returns to normal sleep schedules.
Appropriate Amounts of Sleep: This depends on your particular body chemistry. For most people seven to nine hours is best. There are some people who do better on six hours nightly. You can also get too much sleep which can have the same effects as getting too little sleep.
Consequences of Insufficient Sleep: If you get insufficient sleep over a period of time it can definitely have effects on your overall health. It can affect you both physically and emotionally. It can affect your brain chemistry and your mood. It can lead to anxiety and depression. You can also be more prone to cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. And of course, you increase your risk of accident related consequences by not being sufficiently alert. If you are receiving sufficient sleep you will feel refreshed and focused when you wake up. If not you will often feel sleepy and moody.
Things You Can Do: Of course you must see your medical provider if you are suffering from any prolonged or consistent forms of sleep deprivation. Your Doctor will be able to properly diagnose you and treat you appropriately for the condition. Outside of that there are various lifestyle and dietary changes that you can make to help you develop more restful and healthy sleep patterns. You must make sure your sleeping environment is tranquil, quiet and dark. These are all necessary factors to deep and restful sleep.
Remove media devices from your bedroom and invest in light darkening shades or curtains. Do not involve yourself in any exercise or physical exertion for at least 3 hours prior to your bedtime. Avoid drinking too much liquids a few hours before bedtime. Do relaxing activities such as a warm shower or a cup of soothing herbal tea. You can learn to use positive relaxation techniques such as guided imagery. This involves relaxing your mind and imagining peaceful and tranquil images that will help you to relax and fall asleep. Get some sunlight daily as this helps your body to properly set its sleeping cycle. Remember before undertaking any dietary or lifestyle changes, always consult with your medical provider, particularly if you suffer from any disease or are taking prescription medication.