There are many conditions that are known to affect the general well-being and sometimes lifespan of both adults and children alike. These conditions are so potentially grave that living with them can make it very hard to lead a regular life. 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.
These conditions are known as disorders. There are many kinds of disorders; eating disorders, sleeping disorders, phobic disorders, etc., and each of them 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.
In this post, we will be discussing one of the most irritating and potentially deadly disorders that you could ever develop: sleeping disorders.
Sleepytime is generally considered a sacred daily ritual among contemporary working-class adults who usually do not get enough of it. And that is a big part of what makes sleeping disorders so dreaded. Sleeping 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 sleeping 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 sleeping disorders are generally incurable.
Why Are Sleeping Disorders So Hard to Treat?
Most sleeping disorders usually require the help of specific physicians or such related services, to properly manage the ailment. 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 like an ailment like Malaria, 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. The reason for this is that 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.
Sleeping 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 cues about your well-being. And yes, this includes warnings related to sleeping disorders.
In this post, I will be discussing the five most common sleeping disorders, the ways that you can catch them before they over-ripen and what to do if you notice them sneaking up into your sleeping routine.
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.
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.
Some common symptoms of insomnia are:
- Use Sleep Medication
These could range from over-the-counter medicine such as tramadol to more effective sleeping drugs such as melatonin. Ensure you do not abuse these drugs because that would probably only worsen your condition.
Any kind of drug abuse is never helpful for the problem you are trying to treat. Drug abuse is the reason why your physician instructs you to follow the prescriptions.
- Alter Your Lifestyle
Try to take caffeinated beverages less often than you usually do. Do not just stop taking caffeinated, but also alcoholic beverages 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. (1)
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.
Believe it or not, there is a condition that causes you to want to move your legs during sleepy time or periods where the body naturally rests. Willis-Ekbom disease, also known as restless legs syndrome is a condition that is characterised by sudden bouts of uncontrollable leg movements when in a state of rest.
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 pattern recurring, then you should probably go and see a doctor.
There are majorly two remedy categories for RLS, they are:
This kind of treatment involves the consistent use of non-drug substances to reduce the symptoms of RLS. You could recruit the help of; vibrating pads, regular massages, heating socks, etc., to lessen your symptoms.
On the other hand, you could seek medical assistance, depending on the prime cause of your RLS. You can use Pain relievers for the treatment if your RLS is a by-product of another disease that comes with pain. You could also use neural regulators for treatment if you have RLS due to hyperactivity. (2)
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 paralyse itself whenever you are in REM sleep so that you do not act out your dreams or nightmares.
Although, during a REM sleep behaviour 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 be as big as bolting your knees, screaming or even walking. It is in this state that sleepwalking becomes a thing. A sleepwalker would go up and about and would only think they were in a dream or were sleeping peacefully in bed.
The most common symptom of this condition is a series of uncontrollable movements that can range from minor to extremely violent. The latter cause 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 your body.
Suitable Remedies For This Sleep Disorder
Some more effective ways to reduce the effects of REM sleep behaviour disorder are as follows:
Medications such as melatonin; that are specific to sleeping disorders such as this.
Methods to minimise injury such as padding the 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. (3)
Sleep apnoea is an especially prevalent issue among men. It is characterised 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 as a result of 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.
Sleep apnoea is a disorder that is characterised 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 five and thirty times every sixty minutes. What this means is that you’d find yourself struggling for air and as a result, would not get the right amount of sleep.
- Shortness of Breath
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.
If you spend most of your nights struggling to draw in enough air, then you are most likely going to 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.
Suitable Remedies For This Sleep Disorder
- Lifestyle Alterations
There are some life choices that could increase your risk of sleep apnoea. 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, there are several ways – sleeping positions, breathing techniques, etc. – that could make your sleep much better. 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 corrective surgery. (4)
It is a potentially malignant condition that can drastically affect the ways that you sleep. It is a mental disorder that causes the brain of the sufferer 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.
Some usual warnings of narcolepsy include:
- Sleep Paralysis
It is an overwhelming feeling of intense immobility experienced during sleeping hours. It usually occurs as a result of rapid awakening while you are still in REM sleep. It causes your mind to suddenly wake up, while your body struggles to catch up. Sleep paralysis can come with or without hallucinations.
- Oversleeping During the Day
Also known as excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS. It happens when you find yourself sleeping a whole lot more than usual, during the day. EDS is the most common sign of narcolepsy.
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 stabilise the REM sleep cycle of a person suffering from the 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, then 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)
Aleksandra Nico, Psy.D., is a Psychologist and Editorial Assistant for Whatsdalatest who writes about mental health, relationships, human behaviour, and health. Aleksandra is passionate about helping others make well-informed choices to support and improve their physical and emotional well-being.