Understand Sleep Disorders - Hypersomnia, Narcolepsy and Jet Lag are some types of sleep disorders.
Sleep is rejuvenating for both the mind and the body. It relaxes the mind and body and also helps to maintain an overall good health. Poor sleep or lack of sleep makes the body unhealthy, and it can give rise to several health problems such as cardiovascular disorders, obesity and hypertension; the bottom line is it slowly devastates your health. There are several kinds of sleep disorders.
You can’t fall asleep no matter how tired you are; this is classic case of insomnia. It can be temporary (due to stress, shift changes or even changes in the time zones) or chronic (due to depression, anxiety, or chronic medical problems). If the problem persists for longer than a few days, consult a doctor or sleep specialist.
In some people breathing becomes shallow or may actually stop for a few seconds (between 10 to 20 seconds or more) during sleep. This type of disorder is called sleep apnoea and it is a common but life-threatening sleep disorder. The sleep tends to get disrupted because of the pauses or shallow breaths and the person needs to wake up every few minutes to breathe. People with sleep apnoea can snore, experience frequent gaps in breathing while sleeping, gasping or choking during sleep, and feel tired and sleepy in the daytime. If you have excessive daytime sleepiness and feel tired even after sleeping through the night, consult a sleep specialist.
It may or may not be associated with sleep apnoea but it indicates that the airway is becomes narrow during sleeping. Some common causes of snoring are incorrect sleep posture, extreme fatigue, excess weight and physical abnormalities of the throat.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Some people have an irresistible urge to move their legs or arms in sleep. It is caused due to uncomfortable, tingly or creeping sensations in the legs or affected limbs, which is temporarily decreased with movement.
This is a dangerous sleep disorder which causes extreme sleepiness all of a sudden and the affected person can suddenly sleep without any forewarning (while driving or walking on the road). The exact cause of narcolepsy is not known, but according to some studies lack of hypocretin (a chemical in brain which regulates sleep and wakefulness) causes it.
Some people, even after sleeping well through the night may feel drowsy in the daytime. Although this disorder is not accepted globally but in certain clinical circles, the term hypersomnia (excessive sleep) indicates sleeping more than 10 hours per night and still experiencing chronic daytime drowsiness.
This is a temporary condition caused due to travel across time zones (from USA to India for example). This makes the person feel fatigued, tired and sleepless, nauseous due to disturbance of the internal circadian rhythm, or body clock, with local time.
This sleep disorder is characterized by abnormal sleep behaviours (sleep terrors, sleepwalking, sleep eating, or sleep sex) while the person in fact is asleep. Parasomnias comprise of insensible complex, semi-purposeful, and goal-directed behaviours which are probably meaningful or important for the individual.
Secondary Sleep Disorders
Besides the above mentioned primary sleep disorders there are several secondary sleep disorders (more than 50) such as eating disorders, bedwetting, circadian rhythm sleep disorder, environmental sleep disorder, teeth grinding, and delayed sleep phase.
If you have been trying self-help measures to improve your sleep without success, consult a sleep specialist. The sleep specialist will evaluate you and recommend treatment if necessary, which can help to improve your sleep pattern and duration of sleep.
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