Sleep is a normal, reversible and recurring state of less alertness to environmental stimuli, along with complicated and predictable changes in physiology. When unconscious, our brain and other body functions are still active. These functions perform several crucial tasks that help you remain healthy and operate at your best. So, when people don't get enough quality sleep, it affects more than feeling tired. It involves physical status, mental health, reasoning, and daily function. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Anish Desai, Founder of IntelliMed Healthcare Solutions, about the common sleep disorders and ways to manage them.
What are sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders are a class of conditions that disturb standard sleep patterns and affect the ability to sleep well regularly. Sleep problems are growing more widespread in India, whether caused by a health condition or too much stress. The survey conducted on the Indian population showed that 93% of the people are affected by sleep disorders.
Stress, hectic schedules, and other external forces cause most individuals to have sleep issues occasionally. These concerns, however, may suggest a sleeping disorder if they occur regularly and interfere with everyday living. People with sleep disorders may have difficulty going asleep and feel exceedingly tired during the day, depending on the disorder. Sleep deprivation can affect energy, emotions, focus, and general health.
Types of common sleep disorders
There are many different types of sleep disorders. Some of them may be caused by other underlying health conditions. The common sleep disorders are:
It is one of the most common disorders which represents the inability to fall asleep & to stay asleep. Insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety, digestive problems, and hormones. It can be problematic to health and quality of life, potentially instigating depression, irritability, weight gain, lack of concentration, and impaired work.
Also read: A Combo Of These Sleep Disorders Can Be Fatal: Study
2. Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a dangerous sleep condition in which a person's breathing is interrupted while they are sleeping. Untreated sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart muscle tissue), heart failure, diabetes, and heart attacks. There are mainly two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: The flow of the air stops due to obstructed or narrow air space
- Central sleep apnea develops when the brain is not able to transmit proper signal to muscles that play a role in controlling breathing.
3. Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
RLS is a disorder in which you have an uncontrolled impulse to move your legs, generally responding to an unpleasant sensation. It usually happens when you're seated or lying down in the evening or night. Moving around briefly alleviates the uncomfortable feeling.
A parasomnia is a sleep condition characterized by aberrant sleeping behavior. The behavior can occur at any point during sleep, including during the transition from alertness to sleep and vice versa.
Hypersomnia is a condition in which a person has problems remaining awake throughout the day, referring to either excessive daytime sleepiness or excessive time spent sleeping. People who suffer from hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time, such as at work or while driving. They may also suffer from other sleep-related issues, such as a lack of energy and difficulty thinking effectively.
6. Circadian rhythm disorders
These are the group of sleep disorders that occur during the sleep-awake cycle problems. They make them unable to sleep and wake at the right time.
Also read: Are Sleep Disorders Related To Higher Risk Of COVID-19 Infection? Know Answer From Expert
Diagnosis of sleep disorders
Different tests used to diagnose sleep disorders are:
1. Polysomnography (PSG)
PSG evaluates oxygen levels, body movements, brain waves, heart rate and breathing, and eye and leg movement.
2. Electroencephalogram (EEG)
Sleep EEG is a recording of the brain's electric activity while you are awake than asleep.
3. Multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT)
The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) helps in checking the excessive daytime sleepiness by determining how quickly you can fall asleep in a peaceful environment during the day.
Management of sleep disorders
Two ways to manage sleep disorders are mainly medical treatment and lifestyle changes.
1. Medical treatment
- Melatonin supplements
- Medications for any underlying health issues
- Breathing device or surgery (for sleep apnea)
- Sleep medications a prescribed by the medical practitioner
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy or relaxation techniques can lower anxiety levels about taking enough sleep
2. Lifestyle changes
- Changes in lifestyle can significantly improve sleep quality when combined with medical treatment.
- Regular exercise to reduce stress and anxiety
- Create an optimal sleep environment to make the bedroom comfortable for sleep
- Decide on a regular bedtime and a relaxing schedule each night
- Limiting consumption of caffeine (especially in the evening)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol use
Role of nutraceuticals in sleep disorders
Here's how nutraceuticals can play a role in managing sleep disorders:
1. Chamomile: It derived from several plants in the Asteraceae family and is a natural aid for insomnia.
2. Cherries & cherry juice: Montmorency tart cherries consists of phytonutrients such as phenolic acids and anthocyanins which helps in oxidative stress protection of neuronal cells. Sweet and tart cherries are associated with modest sleep improvement.
3. Kava Kava (Piper methysticum): Kavim obtained form Kava Kava , appeared to change sleep micro- and macroarchitecture compared to other sedatives.
4. L-tryptophan: It significantly reduced sleep latency and increased subjective ratings of sleepiness in healthy adults during the day have been reported in a number of uncontrolled and controlled studies.
5. Valerian: Different clinical studies found that roots of the valerian are effective in improving sleep quality.
If ignored, sleep disorders affect the quality of life so often and severely that they can disrupt thinking, weight, work performance, and mental and physical health. Common sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, etc., prevent us from getting the long and deep sleep needed to perform the normal function at our best.
If you are struggling with sleep, don't hesitate to consult with a healthcare provider. Good sleep is essential to your health and, as a result, to your quality of life. Follow your healthcare provider's advice and practice proper sleep hygiene.
Image credits: Freepik