Most of us find solace and tranquillity in sleep after a hectic day or stress, or to refresh our mind and body. However, for individuals affected by nighttime disorders, the night becomes a battleground, disrupting their sleep patterns and leaving a profound impact on their daily lives. We spoke to Archana Singhal, counsellor and family therapist, founder of Mindwell Counsel, who shared insights. She is also a member of the Counsellors Council of India (CCI) and the National Psychological Wellbeing Council (WICCI).
What Are Nighttime Sleep Disorders
Nighttime sleep disorders involve abnormal behaviours during sleep, which are known as parasomnias. These disorders can manifest as difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness. They can significantly impair an individual's ability to obtain restorative sleep, leading to a cascade of physical, mental, and emotional consequences. Some of these disorders are sleep apnoea, insomnia, Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), and narcolepsy.
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Complications Due To Sleep Disorder
Sleep disorders affect our lives in serious ways, such as:
- You might fall asleep while driving.
- You can struggle to stay awake if inactive, such as while watching television or reading.
- Your attention span and concentration power will start weakening at work, school or even at home.
- You will start looking sleepy at all times.
- You will find it difficult to recall things.
- There will be slow responses to things.
- You may not be able to control your emotions and have difficulty managing them.
- The frequency of naps will increase.
- You might start breathing in an unusual manner.
How To Manage Nighttime Sleep Disorder
Although treatments for sleep disorders would depend on the kind of sleep disorder you have; however they might include:
Making changes in your lifestyle will help you manage this condition. This includes inculcating good sleeping habits, and other changes such as a healthy diet and exercise.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Relaxation Techniques
It helps reduce anxiety about getting enough sleep and helps you sleep better.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
CPAP is a machine to treat sleep apnoea. A CPAP machine exerts enough pressure on a mask to keep your upper airway passages open while sleeping, thereby minimising snoring and sleep apnoea.
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Your healthcare expert can recommend medicines like sleeping pills, but they are prescribed for only a short period of time.
Natural products like melatonin may also help you find relief. Although these products help only a few people and are also recommended for only a short amount of time.
Nighttime sleep disorders can be a serious issue to tackle, and a majority of it is due to some illness or stress. Therefore, you should discuss the symptoms with your healthcare provider. They might perform a physical exam on you to find out the reason you are facing difficulty with sleep.