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Sleeping Disorders: An Introduction

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 by Rhonda Locke

sleeping disorders

Sleeping disorders can cause significant health problems and often remain undiagnosed among sufferers. Insomnia, sleep apnea (apnoea), and sleep walking are just a few of the conditions which contribute to sleep deprivation and lead to an individual not feeling refreshed and restored when they wake up. Sleep is an essential component of good health and professionals rate it as important as exercise and diet. Inadequate sleep can result in fatigue, depression, concentration problems, illness and injury.I have personally suffered from chronic insomnia and understand how debilitating this can be over time.

The difficultly with diagnosing sleep disorders is because people often don't know the quality of the sleep they are getting. Six hours of quality sleep could be enough to have a person feeling rested the next day, but having eight to 10 hours of restless sleep may leave you feeling exhausted after you awaken and for the rest of the day. Of course this can be exacerbated if you have young children or work shifts which change your regular sleep patterns.

So how much sleep is enough sleep?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no specific number of hours of sleep required every day. Children and recuperating patients need more sleep to help them grow and or recover, but some adults who are healthy in every respect admit they can't cope if they don't have 10 hours of quality sleep every night.

What is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be a very dangerous condition which has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It is characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep, commonly caused by snoring. When you are not breathing, your oxygen level falls andcauses your blood pressure to go up. Unfortunately when you are breathing normally while awake, the problem of low oxygen levels continues and therefore your blood pressure remains high during a whole 24 hour sleep-wake cycle. Billy Connolly, the Scottish comedian and actor, is a high-profile sufferer of sleep apneaand tellssome very funny stories about trying to cure the problem, but for people unaware they are suffering this chronic condition, the results can be tragic.

Most health professionals will ask a patient to participate in an overnight sleep study to determine if they are suffering this condition. There are several treatments for sleep apnea with the two most common being nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or an Oral Appliance. The introduction of either one of these treatments can lead to a person living a normal and healthy life.

Insomnia

It has been suggested one in 10 people suffer from insomnia with the most common causes being stress, medication and other stimulants, pain, anxiety and depression. People who experience insomnia for more than one month are considered chronic sufferers but many experience the condition for short periods of time during stressful events. The most likely groups of sufferers are older people with ill health and shift workers, due to the constant changing of the sleep patterns. Women are also twice as likely to suffer insomnia and this has been related to higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Treatment will depend on the cause of the insomnia. Poor sleep habits can be mitigated through lifestyle changes and if the root cause is anxiety of depression, cognitive behavioural treatment can also alleviate the condition. Importantly though, sleeping pills and other prescribed medication are only temporary cures and their effectiveness will decrease over time.

If you are suffering from a sleep disorder, it is important you seek treatment from a health professional. There are significant ongoing health problems which can result from chronic cases and you can end up causing injury to yourself and other people.

Rhonda Locke
General Manager Marketing

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