A sleep disorder/problem refers to the condition affecting the individual’s ability to have enough quality sleep regularly. It can create adverse upshots for an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

The significant reasons for sleep disorder include; stress, hectic schedules, travel, illness, or other temporary interruptions to your routine.

Moreover, sleep disorders/problems can signify another medical condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Types of Sleep Disorder/Problems

There are the following types of sleep disorders/problems that other underlying health conditions may cause.

1. Insomnia:

It is the inability of an individual to fall asleep or remain asleep that is most prevalent among older adults and women. Stress, anxiety, hormonal and digestive problems are the major causes of insomnia that may create certain health concerns; depression, difficulty concentrating, irritability, weight gain, impaired work performance, etc.

2. Sleep Apnea:

It is a severe medical condition in which an individual feels difficulty breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea is classified into two major types; obstructive sleep apnea (where the flow of air stops) and central sleep apnea (a problem in the connection between the brain and the muscles).

3. Parasomnias:

it refers to the type of sleep problem in which an individual has abnormal movements and behaviors during sleep such as sleepwalking, sleeps talking, Groaning, nightmares, bedwetting, teeth grinding, or jaw clenching, etc.

4. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS):

It is a type of sleep movement disorder that causes uncomfortable sensation and urge to move the legs. RLS is often associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Parkinson’s disease, but its exact causes are unknown.

5. Narcolepsy:

An individual’s condition characterized by ‘sleep attacks’ reflects extreme sleepiness during day and night. This disorder can also cause sleep paralysis and neurological disorders

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders/Problems

Sleep disorder symptoms depend upon their type, nature, and severity. However, general symptoms of sleep disorders include:

  • Difficulty in staying asleep
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Strong urge to take naps during the day
  • Unusual breathing patterns
  • Unusual or unpleasant urges to move while falling asleep
  • Unintentional changes to your sleep/wake schedule
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Impaired work performance
  • Lack of concentration
  • Depression
  • Weight gain

To overcome sleep disorders, an individual must track sleep disorder symptoms and sleep patterns. For this, they should maintain a sleep diary to pinpoint the day and nighttime sleeping habits. A sleep diary will help the doctor diagnose the reason and recommend treatment accordingly.  Sleep diary must include the following ingredients;

  • Time of sleep and wake up
  • Sleeping hours and its quality
  • Types and amount of food, liquids, caffeine, or alcohol consumed before bed and consumption times.
  • Feelings and moods before bed (happy, sad, stressed, anxious).
  • Any drugs or medications taken, including dose and time of consumption.

Before going to the doctor, you may improve many sleeping problems yourself. For self-management of sleep disorder, an individual must improve daytime habits, develop a relaxing bedtime routine, and get back to sleep when you wake up at night. 

Causes of Sleep Disorder:

The causes of Sleep problems might differ that adversely affect the individual’s physical, emotional, and mental health.  It ended up with the disruption and exaggeration of routine activities. There are the following most common factors/reasons for a sleep disorder;

  • Physical (such as ulcers)
  • Medical (such as asthma)
  • Psychiatric (such as depressionand anxiety disorders)
  • Environmental (such as alcohol)
  • Working the night shift
  • Genetics (narcolepsy is genetic)
  • Medications
  • Age (generally above 65 years age group)

Diagnosis of Sleep Disorder:

The doctor can perform certain physical and medical examinations to diagnose the sleep problems and their related reasons. The medical examination may include various tests:

  • Polysomnography (PSG): PSG is a lab sleep study to evaluate oxygen levels, body movements, and brain waves.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): EEG is a part of polysomnography that assesses the electrical activity in the brain and detects any potential problems associated with it.
  • Multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT): This napping study helps diagnose narcolepsy.

Moreover, there are the following list of questions that a doctor needs to ask from the patient to diagnose the sleep problems and their possible related causes;

  • How many hours do you sleep at night?
  • Do you toss and turn in your sleep?
  • Do you take naps?
  • How long does it take you to fall asleep?
  • Do you wake up in the middle of the night?
  • Do you work a night shift?
  • How sleepy do you feel during the day?

Treatment of Sleep Disorder:

Sleep disorder treatment depends upon the type and underlying cause of sleep disorder that generally requires a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes. It includes;

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Sleep Hygiene Training
  • Medical treatments: The doctor may suggest the following medical treatment to the patient to address the problem of sleep disorder;
  • Sleeping pills
  • Melatonin supplements
  • Allergy or cold medication
  • Medications for any underlying health issues
  • Breathing device or surgery (usually for sleep apnea)
  • A dental guard (usually for teeth grinding)

Furthermore, the table below reflects the list of medications and supplements that can be used to address sleep disorders/problems.

Type of Sleep Disorder/Problems Recommended medication and Supplement
 

Insomnia

Melatonin, Zolpidem, Zaleplon, Eszopiclone, Ramelteon, Suvorexant, Lamborexant, Or Doxepin.
Restless legs syndrome Gabapentin, Gabapentin Enacarbil, Or Pregabalin.
 

Narcolepsy

Several stimulants or wake-promoting medications include Modafinil, Armodafinil, Pitolisant, and Solriamfetol.
  • Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle adjustment accompanied with medical treatment can improve the address of the sleep disorder. For this, an individual must have to adopt the following activities;
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Take vegetable, fruits, and healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Less water intake before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine intake
  • Avoid diet pills
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol use
  • Take a small portion of a meal before bedtime
  • Weight control

Sleeping Requirements (How much sleep do in need?)

For a healthy and quality life, an individual must have to take amounts of sleep listed below according to their age:

Age Sleep recommendations
65 and above 7 to 8 hours
18 to 64 years 7 to 9 hours
14 to 17 years 8 to 10 hours
6 to 13 years 9 to 11 hours
3 to 5 years 10 to 13 hours
1 to 2 years 11 to 14 hours
4 to 11 months 12 to 15 hours
0 to 3 months 14 to 17 hours

Sleep Benefits:

Good quality sleep can help individuals stay mentally, emotionally, and physically fit and healthy. Additionally, there are some other benefits of good quality sleep include;

  • Reduced inflammation 
  • Improved concentration.
  • Freeform overeating
  • Decreased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reduced risk of depression

 References:

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep#insomnia retrieved on 9th December 2021.
  • https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-disorders-and-problems.htm retrieved on 9th December 2021.
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11429-common-sleep-disorders retrieved on 9th December 2021.
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/best-cooling-mattress-topper retrieved on 9th December 2021.

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