For something that’s so integral to human existence, modern science has only scratched the surface in their understanding of sleep. What we don’t know far surpasses that of which we’re sure, and the gap in public knowledge leaves ample opportunity for the ugly head of sleep disorders to arise.
Today we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about sleep disorders, including 5 of the most prevalent cases, what you can do to remedy them, and why opening these avenues of conversation is so crucial for preventing their development.
Why It’s Important to Recognise Different Sleep Disorders
The act of sleeping isn’t typically something that someone would do within public spaces; in fact, it’s rightly quite a private affair. But because of this, conversations that concern topics of when sleep goes wrong continues to retain an air of cloak and dagger.
And as a result of the lack of dialogue around the subject, many continue to live their lives either without receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment, or without any due course for concern.
What’s more, the deficiency of awareness around the issue makes it harder to identify cause for concern amongst friends and family.
Sleep disorders can have a profound impact on the quality of someone’s life, affecting everything from emotions, physical wellness, productivity and cognitive intellect.
The remedy to such issues can be easily sourced on one’s own, but in order for the first steps of progress to be taken, the problem itself must first be addressed.
5 Sleep Disorders To Be Aware Of
This sleep disorder is quite possibly the most widespread issue on our list, and some studies have suggested that it could affect anywhere between 30% and 50% of the worldwide population.
Although it’s commonly thought that insomnia only strikes when trying to attempt sleep, the truth is that its symptoms can strike at any hour on the clock.
These symptoms include regularly lying awake at night, finding it hard to find sleep, feeling constantly tired throughout the day, and reawakening regularly once asleep with no apparent cause.
Of course, many of the symptoms of insomnia could be easily attributed as common byproducts of the modern lifestyle, but if these byproducts are becoming a regular feature of your days and nights, the restless hand of insomnia could be busy at work.
This brain condition is quite rare to encounter, and it’s thought that only 3 million people worldwide suffer from the experience. Narcolepsy generates sleep attacks on the body, causing it to shut down completely without word or warning.
It stems from an inability within the brain to produce a chemical called hypocretin, which is largely responsible for instigating and regulating wakefulness.
Although it’s known that the lack hypocretin is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking the cells that produce it and the receptors that allow it to work, the origin and cause of the condition has yet to be fully discovered.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, Restless Legs Syndrome is a condition within the body’s nervous system that leads to an irresistible and often uncontrollable urge to move the legs.
Being particularly felt during the night, the condition can also cause an uncomfortable crawling sensation in the feet, calves and thighs; creating great distress and discomfort to the recipient.
Although the condition continues to baffle scientists, it’s thought to originate from how the body processes a chemical called dopamine, which the body uses to control muscle movements.
REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder
Periods of REM sleep form about 20% of the nightly sleep experience, and it’s usually during this time that the body experiences the strange sensation of dreaming.
So in this way, REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder is when the body begins to physically act out dreams, often accompanied by false auditory sensations and involuntary limb movements.
The experience is often quite violent, and can cause great distress to whoever encounters it. Nerve pathways usually paralyse the body during REM sleep, but when the disorder’s present, these pathways no longer work as they should; manifesting into violent physical reactions that typically become worse over time.
Although there’s no centre-point for why this disorder evolves as it does, it’s thought that a variety of personal and environmental factors, such as medication or physical head injuries, can onset the issue.
As quite probably the least distinguishable condition on our list, Sleep Apnea can best be described as when the breathing starts and stops unnaturally during sleep.
As we’re all aware, breathing is very important to the process of sleep, so it’s clear as to why conditions such as Sleep Apnea become so problematic.
During the night, Sleep Apnea may cause you to wake up suddenly and without being able to catch your breath. This might be accompanied by loud snoring, frequent restlessness, snorting and gasping.
Another tell-tale sign is waking up to a headache. During the day, the condition can cause you to feel extremely tired, making it hard to concentrate and to perform the usual daily tasks; without ever being able to link the experience to the presence of Sleep Apnea.
Treatment for this condition usually follows specialist testing by a doctor, and will typically involve the use of a CPAP machine that helps to regulate the breathing.
What Is the Best Way To Treat Sleep Disorders?
Bar the most serious of cases, the good news is that the majority of sleep disorders can easily be treated. Simple changes can be made to both your sleeping environment and your routine around sleep that will drastically alter the progression of sleep disorders, including:
Minimise Noise and Light
The presence of noise and light has a far-reaching affect on the direction and progression of sleep disorders. It’s less about trying to combat the problem directly, and more to do with reevaluating the delicate stages that compose the sleeping process.
In a practical sense, we would really love to recommend this Sleep Mask and Earplugs set. The contoured design of the sleep mask does an excellent job to enforce complete and total darkness during the night, whilst the accompanying memory foam earplugs offer undisturbed silence; what a blissful combination!
Keep A Sleep Schedule
Keeping track of when your sleeping patterns are most active can help you to identify any anomalies in the process, whilst also encouraging the sleep to be better regulated.
If there’s one thing that sleep disorders absolutely hate, it’s repetition and regularity, which is why monitoring your process every night comes as a great solution to quelling any sleep-related issues.
Whilst we did mention that the majority of sleep disorders can be treated with at home applications, it’s important to know that if you’re struggling, external help is and always will be available to you.
Sleep disorders can have a massive impact on the experience of life, and no one should suffer in silence. So if you feel like you need to, never be afraid to book an appointment with your doctor or a sleep specialist.
Check Out Our Recent Blog
If struggling to sleep is a regular feature of your night, you might be interested in taking a look at one of our most recent blog posts where we discuss a range of techniques that can quell a restless mind. Explore the blog ‘What To Do When You Can't Sleep’.
Discover more of the hurdles that sleep disorders hate to see, by visiting our dreamy SMUG collection here: www.sleepsmug.com
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