What Is Sleep Disorder?
Sleep is the human activity when the body rests and rejuvenates. This is the time when the metabolic functions normalize and the worn out tissues heal. It also calms a disturbed mind and keeps the person mentally sane. That is why it is ironic that some people are not able to even get a restful sleep due to sleep disorders. Instead of calming and healing them, their sleep disorders could actually harm them further and disturb their health.
Two of the most common sleep disorders in the world today are sleep apnea and insomnia. Here we are going to discuss these two disorders in brief.
- Sleep apnea is the condition where the person’s breathing is obstructed when they are sleeping. They breathe irregularly in their sleep, and then suddenly get choked, and wake up. This interrupts their sleep, but more dangerously it means that the brain is not getting an adequate supply of oxygen. This could be a potentially life-threatening situation.
- Insomnia is the term used to refer to lack of sleep. This could be due to various factors, of which stress is the most prominent factor. When a person suffers from insomnia, they are not able to sleep restfully throughout the night, and sometimes not at all, and this makes them irritable the next day. Insomnia also hampers the productivity of the person and can cause severe mental disorders.
Different Kinds of Sleep Apnea
There are three forms of sleep apnea.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea happens when the muscles of the throat stay in a relaxed form thus making it difficult for air to pass through them.
- Central Sleep Apnea happens due to the inability of the brain to control the breathing process.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome is a mixture of both of the above conditions. This requires treatment.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form of sleep apnea. Due to some structural difficulties, the throat muscles are not able to let air pass through it when sleeping. The inability of these muscles causes problems to the regions such as tongue, tonsils, uvula, and the side walls of the throat.
In effect, whenever you sleep, this region chokes up. This reduces the amount of air reaching the brain. Soon, the oxygen supply to the brain reduces. The brain then wakes the person up so that they can breathe normally and take oxygen in.
A person with obstructive sleep apnea will make several gasping or choking sounds in their sleep. They wake up throughout the night. Most times, the waking is so brief that they might not even remember it later on.
Central sleep apnea happens when the brain is not able to control the muscles that regulate breathing when the person is sleeping.
Who Is at a Higher Risk of Sleep Apnea?
The following people are at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea:-
- Men who have crossed the age of 40 years. However, women can also suffer from sleep apnea.
- Overweight persons
- People with a large neck girth. A neck girth of more than 17 inches in men and more than 16 inches in women is considered to be a risk factor.
- People who have large tongues or tonsils
- People with smaller lower jaw bones
- People who have a genetic disposition to sleep disorders
- People who have one parent or a sibling with sleep apnea
- People who have nasal malformations such as deviated septum or chronic sinusitis
Different Types of Insomnia
Insomnia is basically lack of sleep but it can occur in different ways. Based on this, there are two types:-
- Primary Insomnia is when a person does not get sleep but there are no underlying health problems. In this case, insomnia is the core problem.
- Secondary Insomnia is when there is some underlying health issue that is responsible for the person’s lack of sleep. Some of the diseases that could cause this condition include heartburns, asthma, cancer, and arthritis among others.
What Causes Insomnia?
Secondary insomnia is a result of some underlying health conditions. If you have any of the health issues mentioned above, then you will need to speak with your doctor if they are the cause of your insomnia.
However, primary insomnia is of the bigger concern and it is more widespread in the world today. Our modern lifestyle is a major culprit for this. Here are some of the reasons why this might occur:-
- Stress and depression can be a leading cause. There could be several triggers to cause this, related to both professional and personal life.
- Some kind of physical pain or trauma such as that caused by some injury could also cause lack of sleep.
- Disturbances in the environment such as loud noise or extreme temperatures can hamper sleep.
- Some medications that are used for diabetes, blood pressure, common colds, etc. could also disturb regular sleep patterns.
What Should We Do to Get Rid of Sleep Disorders?
In most cases, sleep disorders are not due to a medical issue. They are related to our lifestyle and hence, improving our way of living, can help us come out of our sleep-related disorders.
- Keeping the body fit is of paramount importance. A healthier body is able to rest better.
- Have a balanced diet that has the right amount of all nutrients, including all necessary vitamins and minerals.
- Do not go to bed on a full stomach. Keep a gap of at least 2 hours between your last meal of the day and going to bed.
- When sleeping, try to free your mind of all stresses and worries. Think of pleasant things. Do not watch or read disturbing stuff just before going to bed.
- Cut down on your intake of caffeine and alcohol. They can disturb your sleep patterns.
- Try to make your bedroom as relaxing as possible. Good surroundings are necessary for getting sound sleep.
- Meditate. A lot of meditation therapies help you to gain better mental focus and these improve your health overall.