Health >Sleeping disorder
Sleep is absolutely essential for normal, healthy function. Scientists and medical professionals do not fully understand this complicated, necessary, physiological phenomenon. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic long-term sleep disorders each year and an additional 20 million people suffer occasional sleep problems.
Symptoms of Sleeping Disorders
Insomnia can be considered a disorder when we get up tired and we have the impression that we have not slept well.
Insomnia can be classified according to the duration of symptoms presence. Acute insomnia is temporary and it is caused by external events or circumstances (travels etc.) and it lasts more than a week or until the end of the event. Chronic insomnia lasts more than three weeks and it can be primary (which occurs in the absence of medical problems) and secondary insomnia (which is the result of heart problems, arthritis, cancer or it is caused by gastro esophageal reflux).
Insomnia occurs especially in the case of women, 60 years older, or on the basis of a depression; anyway, anybody can have this problem. Acute insomnia can occur as a secondary effect of taking a certain medication. Instead, chronic insomnia is caused or made worse by a variety of physical or mental diseases.
Even if in the case of severe insomnia sleeping pills may be prescribed, their use is controversial in the case of chronic insomnia. Insomnia treatment consists especially in changing behavior; identifying factors which get insomnia worse, by studying and practicing relaxation techniques. Insomnia can be dangerous because it can lead to a vicious circle: because sleep is not enough, insomniacs feel tired, without energy and they can’t concentrate, therefore they try to compensate this condition by an excessive consumption of coffee or nicotine. Moreover, insomniacs are too tired to do exercises; therefore there are few chances for them to have a good sleep.
We can’t talk about precise symptoms of insomnia, but there are some aspects which can certainly be associated with it. They can be alcoholism, allergies, anxiety, and depression, especially in the case of older people. Frequent headaches may be also a symptom of insomnia, associated with irritability or panic attack. Sometimes pregnant woman may have sleeping disorders, or women who reached the age of the menopause.
Besides, if you sleep during the day, it is obvious that you won’t have a good night sleep, and in general workaholic people or too busy and stressed people are certainly insomniac.
Tips for Better Sleep
- Sleep is as important as food and air. Quantity and quality are very important. Most adults need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you press the snooze button on the alarm in the morning you are not getting enough sleep. This could be due to not enough time in bed, external disturbances, or a sleep disorder.
- Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. Getting up at the same time is most important. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will also help. Try to go to bed only when you are sleepy. Bright light in the morning at a regular time should help you feel sleepy at the same time every night.
- Stay away from stimulants like caffeine. This will help you get deep sleep which is most refreshing. If you take any caffeine, take it in the morning. Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas. They will delay sleep and increase arousals during the night.
- Use the bed for sleeping. Avoid watching TV or using laptop computers. Know that reading in bed can be a problem if the material is very stimulation and you read with a bright light. If it helps to read before sleep make sure you use a very small wattage bulb to read. A 15 watt bulb should be enough. Bright light from these activities may inhibit sleep.
- Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful. (Dimmer switches can be set to maximum brightness for morning routines.)
- Don't stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. It will just make matters worse. Know you will sleep eventually.
- Avoid exercise near bedtime. No exercise at least 3 hours before bed.
- Don't go to bed hungry. Have a light snack, avoid a heavy meal before bed.
- Bedtime routines are helpful for good sleep. Keep routines on your normal schedule. A cup of herbal tea an hour before bed can begin a routine.
- Avoid looking at the clock if you wake up in the middle of the night. It can cause anxiety. This is very difficult for most of us, so turn the clock away from your eyes so you would have to turn it to see the time. You may decide not to make the effort and go right back to sleep.
- If you can't get to sleep for over 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in dim light till you are sleepy.
- Keep your bedroom at comfortable temperature. Not too warm and not too cold. Cooler is better than warmer.
- If you have problems with noise in your environment you can use a white noise generator. A old fan will work or you can buy noise machies from many sources.
- Know that the "night cap" has a price. Alcohol may help you to get to sleep but it will cause you to wake up throughout the night. You may not notice it. (It is worse if you have sleep apnea because the alcohol makes the apnea worse.) Sometimes people snore only if they have had some alcohol or may snore worse if they already snore.)
- If you have a sleeping partner, ask them if they notice any snoring, leg movements and/or pauses in breathing . Take this information and try the sleep test. You may have a sleep disorder or you may just need to increase your awareness about your own sleep need. If you have any concerns see your doctor.