HYDERABAD: Sleep disorders range from sleep deprivation, insomnia, apnea and even snoring.
Insomnia is a disorder that does not allow one to fall asleep and neither does it allow a person to remain asleep. People sufffering with insomnia often wake up tired that takes a toll on the person’s day. While most of us are affected by insomnia now and then, some individuals experience chronic insomnia which stays on for a long time.
Difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, waking up too early, feeling lethargic after the night’s sleep
tiredness during the day, depression, difficulty in paying attention, headaches are some of the symptoms of insomnia.
Sticking to regularised sleep schedules, change in daily activities, and some prescibed medicines can be helpful.
The word apnea means not breathing which is a common and potentially devastating sleep disorder in which patients actually close off their airway at night. This airway closure occurs either behind the tongue or behind the nose. Patients continue to make efforts to breathe. Then after 10 to 120 seconds, the brain, realising it is not getting any oxygen, actually wakes up. The brain then tells the upper airway to open to let some air in. Though it is dangerous, it is relatively easy to diagnose and treat.
Patients with sleep apnea are at great risk for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. In addition, since the sleep is poor quality since their brain keeps waking up and patients are often sleepy during the day.
Inability to concentrate, remember or think are added symptoms.
Medical treatment involves weight loss if the patient is overweight, avoidance of drugs, which increase the risk of apneas such as sleeping pills, alcohol and sedative medicines, and sometimes sleeping semi-upright. However, in most cases additional treatment is warranted.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that commonly begins during adolescence and is characterised by excessive daytime sleepiness with the occurrence of sleep attacks. It tends to run in families.
Sympotms like cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone), sleep paralysis (sensation of not being able to move or waking, usually for a few seconds) and hypnogogic hallucinations (vivid and sometimes violent or bizarre sensations) may or may not be present.
The treatment invloves combination of behavioural modification and drug therapy. Regular naps scheduled at specific times during the day also help. Stimulant medication and anti-depressants are also prescribed.
For sufficient and quality sleep
How’s your bedroom?
■ Your room should be dark, quiet, and free from electronic devices like television and mobile phones. In today’s technology-absorbed world, that may sound impossible, but try leaving your phone in another room for just one night, and see if it makes a difference!
* When you are falling asleep, your body temperature dips slightly. If you are trying to sleep in a room that is too hot or too cold, your body struggles to achieve this set point. Try lowering the heater or air conditioning by just a few degrees tonight.
Tips to sleep well
■ Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function at your best and stay well.
■ A regular bed and wake time (even on weekends) can be extremely helpful for promoting good quality sleep and helping you get off to sleep when you want to.
■ If you must nap during the day, keep them short and sweet so you do not affect your night time sleep or leave yourself groggy when you wake. Aim for 20-40 minutes from the time you put your head down.
■ Keep alcohol and caffeine intake to a moderate level. Avoid consuming alcohol in the 2-3 hours and caffeine in the 5-8 hours before bed.
■ Going to bed hungry may lead you to wake often during the night. A light snack before bed can be helpful. An overly full stomach at bedtime may lead to discomfort and awakenings overnight.
■ Regular exercise is a great way to improve the quality of sleep and helps establish a regular sleep routine.
■ Exercising in the late afternoon or early evening is the best. Try to avoid intense exercise in the 2-3 hours before bed.
■ Light shines through our eyelids while we sleep and can lead to poor quality sleep. Block out as much light as you can with good quality curtains, and make sure all your lamps are turned off at bedtime.
■ It is amazing the damage a little noise can do to your sleep. Make sure your radios, television, computer, tablets and mobile phones are turned off before bed.
■ We get off to sleep easiest and get the best quality sleep when the bedroom is reserved for sleep and sex. Avoid bringing work and recreational activities into bed with you.
■ Being exposed to bright light just before bedtime can make it hard to get off to sleep when you want to. Dim the screens on your tablets, computers and mobile phones in the evening. Ideally, try not to use them in the two hours before bed.