Sleep is vital for the mind and body. Without it, you won’t only feel less energised and tired but it could also compromise your overall health.
If you’re sleep-deprived, your body won’t have time to repair itself. Therefore, your healing is slowed and you’re more at risk of diseases, such as diabetes, heart diseases, and high blood pressure.
Your mental health will be compromised too. Apparently, lack of sleep can decrease your alertness and focus. It can also raise your risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental concerns.
That said, you need to ensure that you always get adequate sleep. However, not everyone is able to get a full night’s sleep as underlying medical conditions affect their sleep cycle.
Fortunately, they can be treated and you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of them and some information on how you can deal with them.
Sleep apnea is one of the common sleeping issues but not everyone is aware of it as it happens during sleep. It causes your breathing to repeatedly stop and start.
It happens either when your throat muscles relax (called obstructive sleep apnea), when your brain isn’t able to send the right signals to your muscles that control your breathing (called central sleep apnea), or when you have both (referred to as complex sleep apnea syndrome).
Symptoms of it include:
- Loud snores
- Episodes where you stop breathing while asleep
- Gasping for air while spelling
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Headaches in the morning
- Difficulty in paying attention when awake
It could also be due to other sleeping issues. This includes insomnia and hypersomnia.
Therapies are given for moderate to severe sleep apnea. And usually, they require machines to help you breathe while sleeping. Your doctor can give you pieces of advice in choosing the right CPAP machine, oral appliances, oxygen devices, etc. They can also give you more knowledge about what therapy you’ll need.
For milder cases of sleep apnea, on the other hand, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes. This includes quitting smoking or losing weight.
Insomnia is yet another one of the most common sleeping issues that many people experience. For starters, it’s a disorder in which you have trouble staying and/or falling asleep.
It could be due to stress-related factors (such as a death of a loved one, job changes or loss, divorce, etc.), the things around you that cause discomfort, or the changes in your sleep schedule, including bad habits or jet lag, to name a few.
Apart from that, it could also be due to mental concerns like anxiety and depression. Medications could also be the one to blame for it, as well as endocrine problems.
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of insomnia, it’s always best to consult a health professional. They can give you the right treatment for chronic insomnia to help you change the things you do that worsen it.
For acute insomnia, though, experts say that you may not need treatment. Still, it’s best to consult a health professional first.
Restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome, just like sleep apnea, is also common but you may not know you have it. Even doctors might not easily recognise it, especially if your symptoms are mild and/or don’t often show. Still, it can greatly affect your sleep.
Also known as RLS, this sleeping issue causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. Often, it is due to sensations that cause discomfort. Moving your legs may ease it but only temporarily. Hence, affecting your sleep.
And because it can be hard to diagnose sometimes, your doctor may require physical and neurological exams. Blood tests may also be ordered to rule out what causes your symptoms.
Restless leg syndrome can be caused by underlying conditions. And sometimes, they only need to be addressed and your RLS will get better.
But if your RLS isn’t related to other medical issues, the treatment usually focuses on changes in your lifestyle. And if it’s still not making you any better, your doctor may prescribe medications that will help increase the dopamine or the “feel good” chemicals in your brain.
Depending on your case, your doctor may also prescribe narcotic medications like tramadol, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. They may also give you muscle relaxants and other sleep medications. However, it may only help you sleep better but will not get rid of the sensations in your legs.
REM sleep behaviour disorder
REM sleep behaviour disorder is when you act out your vivid, intense, and violent dreams. While sleeping, you may talk, yell, kick, punch, or even jump from your bed. This happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep; hence the name.
No one knows what exactly causes it. But, studies suggest that antidepressants may trigger it. Some evidence also shows the relation of RBD with posttraumatic disorder (PTSD).
Experiencing this will not only disrupt your sleep but might also cause you to injure yourself or other people whom you’re sharing the bed. And if not treated, it could worsen and could even cause you to develop more serious emotional, cognitive, and neurological issues including anxiety, apathy, and problems with executive functioning.
Fortunately, there are also several ways to treat REM sleep behavior disorder. Depending on its severity, your doctor may prescribe you low doses of clonazepam. It will suppress your muscle activity and will relax your body while you’re sleeping.
Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle changes to also keep your sleeping partner safe. This includes installing padded bed rails, sleeping on the floor, removing dangerous objects from your room, or making your bed partner sleep in a separate room or bed until your symptoms get better.
Sleep is vital for people to function well and stay healthy. That said, if you feel like there’s something wrong with your sleep, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. This way, your sleeping issues, as well as underlying medical conditions, are addressed right away before it gets worse and greatly causes negative impacts in your waking life.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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