Sleep disorders can affect our productivity, health, overall quality of life and even our relationships. But what are sleep disorders and how can we avoid them? Let’s find out more about the almost unnoticeable issue that affects 58% of Americans today.
What are sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders refer to a wide range of conditions and problems that affect how much and especially how well we sleep. Certain medical conditions and poor nocturnal habits can contribute to sleep disorders. In the same time, certain sleep disorders can contribute and actually worsen different medical problems. What’s curious about sleep disorders is the fact that many people suffer from them without even knowing it.
Sleep disorder symptoms
There’s a very wide range of symptoms that indicate sleep disorders but some of the most common ones are:
- Feeling very tired and sleepy in the morning and during the day
- Having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep
- Frequent pauses in breathing – also known as apnea
- An irresistible urge to continuously move your legs – also known as restless leg syndrome
What is normal and what’s not?
Medical research linked sleep deprivation to mood disorders, memory problems, job injuries, poor professional performance, car accidents and relationship problems. So, how much sleep do we really need?
- Adults can go with seven or eight hours of sleep
- Teens should sleep for around nine hours
- Infants are snooze-champions with sixteen hours of shuteye
Keep in mind that if you suffer from a sleep disorder you might need more than 8 hours of sleep. A person’s needs are greatly influenced by disorders such as insomnia.
What is insomnia and how can I avoid it?
Every once in a while, everyone has a bit of trouble sleeping but if the problem persists for longer periods of time, you’re most likely suffering from insomnia and the effects of sleep deprivation. Insomnia patients usually wake up multiple times during the night for no apparent reason, wake up too early or simply stay awake for hours on end, even past their normal bed time.
The National Sleep Foundation found that approximately 58% of adults in the US alone experience insomnia episodes a few nights a week or even more often.
“There’s nothing like a strong cup of coffee before going to bed!”
– Said no one ever
Insomnia is strongly related to the person’s habits before going to bed. Not drinking coffee might seem common sense but we often find ourselves working late and the prospect of a hot cup of coffee to keep us going seems very appealing. Heavy foods, smoking, certain drinks and even technology affect the way we sleep. Again, this might seem common sense but insomnia is most likely caused by a combination of subtle factors and not just one factor alone.
Certain medical problems have also been linked with insomnia:
- Chronic pain
- Heart Failure
- Thyroid problems
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Trouble falling asleep? Get a workout going!
When we’re tired, our cosy bed can be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Exercise is one of the best things you can do a couple of hours before going to bed – not only does it help you sleep better, but it’s healthy in itself.
Late meals? Here’s what you need to avoid
Certain drinks and foods can contribute greatly to insomnia episodes. Here’s what you should avoid a couple of hours before going to bed:
- Soda, coffee and most teas including green tea and black tea
- Spicy, fatty, delicious foods
- Alcoholic drinks – this is a double-edged sword as it can make some people fall asleep only to wake them up a couple of hours later
Evening snacking fans have no fear
If you fancy a late night snack, you can definitely go for something light and easy to digest. Biscuits, cereal, muffins or pretzels are an excellent choice. You can even wash it all down with some warm milk.
Avoid technology like the plague
Phones, tablets and TV can be entertaining, but they are sleep’s worst enemy. Any screens that emit light or blue light will keep you alert and awake for hours. The best thing you can do is just switch them all off and relax. The National Sleep Foundation from the USA suggests that we should remove all tablets, laptops, computers and television from the bedroom – it’s definitely a good idea as the bedroom should be more focused on tranquillity than late night blockbusters.
Pampering yourself to sleep
Falling asleep requires a calm and relaxed mental attitude. You can actually “train” your body to embrace it through certain bedtime rituals – deep breathing techniques, half an hour of reading or a warm bath. Gradually, your body will become accustomed to the ritual and you’ll fall asleep more easily.
Cold nights make restful nights
Sometimes if the room is too hot we can have problems falling asleep. It’s a good idea to keep the room somewhat colder than what you would feel comfortable with. A small drop in temperature before going to sleep does wonders! Be careful though, you don’t want to wake up a couple of hours later because it’s too cold.