3 Most Common Chronic Sleep Disorders You Need To Know About

As sleep disorders become more and more common, we must understand the most common disorders and understand their causes, treatment, and prevention.


Exercising regularly can reduce the chances of you developing any of these sleep disorders

A good night’s sleep is essential to leading a healthy and happy life. Sleep helps us recharge and unwind after a long day. Adding to this, sleeping an adequate amount has various health benefits, such as, increasing focus and bettering productivity. However, in case of lack of sleep, your sleep cycle can greatly affect your moods, social interactions, work, and relationships. Here are the signs, causes, and treatments of some of the most common chronic sleep disorders.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes irregularly breathing. Meaning there might be breaks reported in the breathing pattern. This, if not treated can be extremely worrisome as it might decrease the amount of oxygen entering the body. There are 3 different kinds of sleep apnea;

obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome.

Symptoms

  • Very loud snoring might be louder than normal snoring sounds
  • Trouble focusing
  • Decrease in patience
  • dry mouth
  • Inability to sleep for long periods at stretch, waking up through the night
  • Feeling sleepy during the day, lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Forgetfulness
  • Waking up in the middle of the night due to gasping or choking

Causes

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Narrow neck
  • Deviated septum
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Allergies
  • Drug use

Treatment

The first step to treating any disorder is to identify what disorder it is. There are 2 ways you can check whether or not you have sleep apnea. The first is Nocturnal polysomnography, which is done under the supervision of a professional. It records and understands how various functions of your body work during the night. This includes a professional recording heart rate, brain activity, breathing pattern, oxygen levels, etc. while connecting you to the necessary machines to understand the same. The second way is to perform tests on your sleep by yourself, you are required to record your own heart rate, blood pressure, and other relevant criteria. Once you have been diagnosed by a professional, here is a list of treatments that can be performed.

  • There are various types of equipment that can better the ability of your airways to breathe properly. Some of these are, Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP), oxygen supplying devices, Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV), etc.
  • In more severe cases, the doctor might suggest surgery. In this case, it might be a jaw repositioning surgery, tissue reduction or removal, tracheostomy, etc.

Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most commonly heard and talked about sleeping disorders. However, the popularity of insomnia is not an indicator of it being a mild disorder. Insomnia is a sleep condition in which the person might experience severe sleeplessness. There are 2 kinds of insomnia:

  • Primary insomnia: This means that the condition is not a side effect of an already existing disease or illness.
  • Secondary insomnia: When the disorder occurs in accordance with a pre-existing illness. Illnesses such as depression, cancer, asthma, etc.

Symptoms

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up before getting proper sleep
  • Waking up multiple times during the night
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Decrease in productivity

Causes

  • Traveling or work: Irregular working hours or/and jet lag from traveling might be one of the very common reasons for insomnia in some people.
  • Stress: Stress of work, family, and financial worries might occupy the mind to an unhealthy extent and make it difficult to relax. Stress not only disrupts sleep but also reduces efficiency.
  • Irregular sleeping routine: Oftentimes, we might have trouble following a proper sleeping routine. This might again be due to work pressure or social commitments. The irregular sleeping routine also adversely affects productivity during the day.

Treatment

  • Medication: In case of chronic insomnia or in case the condition is adversely affecting the patient, a doctor might suggest some medication to help the patient get the necessary rest.
  • Therapy: One of the most effective treatments for insomnia is therapy. There are various types of therapies that might work on the patient, some of them being, light therapy, sleep restriction therapy, relaxation techniques, and so on.

Steps you can take:

To avoid such sleep disorders or to curb insomnia, here are a few tips you can use to better your chances of getting good sleep.

  • Exercising regularly might help you get better sleep. A workout can be tiring on the body but also be stress-reliving for the mind. This practice might help an insomniac fall asleep faster or for a longer period.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed. Eating right before sleeping is considered unhealthy as you may already know. Adding to this, it might make laying down and sleeping uncomfortable.
  • Avoid caffeine before bed. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee have proven to help combat sleepiness. Caffeine has the ability to block the sleep-inducing receptors of the brain called adenosine receptors.
  • Avoid sleeping during the day. In case you have trouble getting adequate hours of sleep on an everyday basis, avoid taking naps. Being able to sleep at stretch without waking up multiple times throughout the night is far more beneficial for your body and mind.
  • Avoid substance use, such as alcohol. You might have experienced that sleeping after alcohol consumption becomes easier, however, after a prolonged period of alcohol might adversely affect your sleep cycle and should be avoided.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes intense feelings of drowsiness throughout the day and the person might experience a sudden urge to fall asleep. A narcoleptic might find it difficult to stay awake even if they have had an adequate amount of sleep at night. Although narcolepsy doesn’t have a cure yet, we will discuss treatments and lifestyle changes that might reduce the symptoms.

Symptoms

Excessive sleepiness

A person suffering from narcolepsy will experience a persistent urge to fall asleep. This also includes constantly feeling sleepy and drowsy during the day as well as at night. This hinders the productivity of the person and might make it difficult for them to finish everyday chores. It might also poorly affect their work and professional life.

Sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis is considered one of the strangest phenomena relating to sleep disorders. Asleep paralysis usually means the inability to move or talk while sleeping. Sleep paralysis episodes can be extremely frightening as in this state, the mind is awake however the body is “asleep”. Meaning you have no control over the movement of your own body. This inability to move is a common body function made to avoid any movement in the body in case a person is dreaming. Hence, it is a preventive measure by the body to avoid harming oneself while sleeping. However, when the mind is awake, it might be very confusing and frightening.

Hallucinations

Hallucination is a phenomenon in which a person might see, hear, smell or feel things that do not exist in real life. People suffering from narcolepsy might experience hypnogogic hallucinations, these hallucinations only take place right before falling asleep and can be very frightening.

Causes

There are no proven causes that are directly linked to causing narcolepsy. However, low amounts of the chemical hypocretin are found in people with type 1 narcolepsy. Hypocretin is a neurochemical that helps monitor alertness and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep in the brain.

Treatment

  • In the case of chronic narcolepsy, if the disorder is severely affecting the patient, doctors suggest getting on medication. These medications might include antidepressants, stimulants, SSRIs, etc.
  • Drawing a realistic routine might be helpful in being productive. This might also help you be on track.
  • Exercising is a great way to recharge and unwind. Incorporating working out into your routine might help you be more productive.
  • Avoid substance use like alcohol. Drinking and smoking are extremely bad for the body and adversely affect multiple parts of the human body.

Finally, we urge you to regularly keep a check on your sleeping cycle. In case you are having trouble following a sleep routine, it is also necessary to seek professional guidance.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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