Sleep has many meanings in English Language but Encarta Dictionary defines Sleep as a state of partial or full unconsciousness in people and animals during which voluntary activities are suspended and the body rests and restores itself. Sleep is a vital often neglected component of everybody overall health and well being.
Sleep is divided into two stages which are i) Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and the Non Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM).
What is Sleep Disorder (Somnipathy)? It is an abnormal behaviour associated with sleep or changes in sleeping patterns that affects one’s health. Sleep disorders affects both Children and Adults.
Types of Sleep Disorders:
There are more than 100 types of Sleep disorders but can be majorly categorized into the following:
- Unusual behaviours during sleep (Sleep Apnoea)
- Problems with sticking to a regular sleep schedule (Seen in Shift workers, Jetlag syndrome)
- Problems with staying awake (i.e. sleeping at inappropriate times eg excessive daylight sleeping-Hyperinsomnia)
- Problem with falling and staying asleep (Insomnia), most common disorder.
Why should people learn about Sleep and its Disorders?
- Poor sleep makes one feel disconnected from the World
- Poor sleep affects one’s mental and health activities
- Poor sleep can indicate serious illness eg Mood swings, Heart failure
- Good sleep improves one’s sex life.
Causes of Sleep Disorders:
Sleep problems are very common and affect people in different ways. People become distressed when they feel they are not getting enough good sleep but the amount of sleep a person needs varies among individuals and across age groups eg a baby sleeps 16-17hours a day while a teenager sleeps 8-9hours a day and elderly sleeps 5-8hours a day.
Common causes of Sleep Disorders:
- Snoring by one’s partner
- Age: Adults sleep deeply but for less hours
- Noisy environment
- Surroundings or Weather conditions which may be hot or cold, even hard or soft bed also affects sleep
- Anxiety / Worry about a problem can keep someone awake.
- Medical reasons:
- Getting up to urinate frequently which may be caused by antihypertensive drugs like Moduretic
- Drugs that contains caffeine interfere with sleep eg Panadol Extra
- Smoking and Alcohol ingestion affects sleep
When to see Medical Personnel for this disorder:
- If there is lack of sleep
- If there is too much sleep
- Unsual sleep interfering with daily activities.
Symptoms of Sleep Disorder:
Symptoms may vary depending on the types of sleep disorder (see above)
Diagnosis of Sleep Disorder:
This could be by (i) Sleep diary, (ii) Mental Examination and (iii) Polysomnography
Depends on the identified cause.
Prevention of Sleep Disorder / Tips for Better Sleep.
- Regular exercise during the day
- A quiet sleep environment, dark and comfortable
- Avoid Alcohol as sleeping aids
- Regular sleep habit
- Eat right and sleep tight- some food promotes sleep eg Milk, Banana, Walnut
- Stay healthy and keep fit.
- Keep pets off the bed.