The Basics of Understanding Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders: All you need to know

You cycle through REM and four stages of non-REM (NREM) sleep several times a night during normal sleep. NREM sleep is divided into four stages, with stage 1 being the lightest and stage 4 being the deepest.

You may feel exhausted, lethargic, and have difficulties concentrating and paying attention while awake if you’re often interrupted and can’t cycle between various types and phases of sleep. You are more likely to get involved in vehicle accidents and other types of mishaps if you are sleepy.

What Are Sleep Disorders?

1. Circadian Rhythm Disorders

People usually sleep at night, according to the 9-to-5 workday’s traditions as well as the strong interplay between our natural sleep and alertness rhythms, which are controlled by an internal “clock.”

The suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus is a small region of the brain that acts as a clock. It’s immediately above the nerves that exit the back of our heads. The clock may be “reset” by light and exercise, and it can be moved forward or backward. Circadian rhythm disorders are abnormalities connected to this clock (“circa” means “about,” and “dies” means “day”).

Jet lag, shift work adaptations, and delayed sleep phase syndrome (you fall asleep and wake up) are all examples of circadian rhythm abnormalities.

2. Insomnia

Insomniacs do not believe they are getting enough sleep at night. They may have difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Insomnia is an issue when it interferes with your day-to-day activities. Stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep habits, circadian rhythm abnormalities (such as jet lag), and taking certain drugs are all possible causes of insomnia.

3. Snoring

Adults snore in large numbers. When the air you inhale rattles against the relaxed tissues of your throat, it makes a noise. Snoring can be a problem due to the noise it produces. It could also be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea.

4. Sleep Apnea

When the upper airway gets entirely or partially clogged during sleep, regular breathing is interrupted for short periods of time, causing you to wake up. It can make you sleepy during the day. Severe sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack if left untreated.

5. Pregnancy and Sleep

In the first and third trimesters of pregnancy, women frequently experience sleepless nights and daytime weariness. Sleep may be disrupted during the first trimester due to numerous trips to the bathroom and morning sickness. Vivid dreams and physical discomfort later in pregnancy may inhibit deep sleep. Sleep may be disrupted after birth due to the new baby’s care or the mother’s postpartum depression.

6. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a sleep condition that causes excessive tiredness during the day. Although there is a hereditary component to the condition, most people have no family history of it. Though severe and uncontrollable “sleep attacks” are the most well-known symptom of narcolepsy, many people do not experience them. Instead, they are tired all of the time during the day.

7. Restless Legs Syndrome

The discomfort in the legs and feet of patients with restless legs syndrome peaks in the evening and night. They have a strong need to move their legs and feet to provide temporary relief, which they typically do during sleep with excessive, rhythmic, or cyclic leg movements. This can cause a delay in the commencement of sleep as well as brief awakenings during the night. Restless legs syndrome affects a large number of middle-aged and older people.

8. Nightmares

Nightmares are frightening dreams that occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Stress, anxiety, and various medicines can all contribute to them. Frequently, there is no obvious cause.

9. Night Terrors and Sleepwalking

Night terrors and sleepwalking are most common in children aged 3 to 5 years old and occur during non-REM sleep. A night terror can be frightening: your child may wake up crying, unable to explain his or her anxiety. Children who have night terrors may recall a terrible image, although they frequently do not. Parents are often more terrified than their children when it comes to night terrors. While sleeping, sleepwalkers can engage in a variety of activities, some of which are potentially dangerous, such as leaving the house.

What Causes Sleep Disorders?

1. Insomnia

Insomnia can be transient and be caused by something as simple as jet lag. An illness, a stressful event, or drinking too much coffee, for example, can all induce short-term insomnia. Insomnia is a common side effect of several drugs.

Stress, despair, or anxiety can all contribute to long-term insomnia. People can also become conditioned to sleeplessness by associating nighttime with difficulty, anticipating (and consequently experiencing) sleep problems, and becoming angry (which can cause more insomnia). For several years, this cycle can be maintained.

Circadian rhythm problems are a common cause of insomnia, however, they are not the most common. Insomnia is common among people who abuse alcohol or drugs.

2. Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Many muscles in your body relax when you fall asleep. Your breathing may be obstructed and you may snore if the muscles in your throat relax too much. Allergies, asthma, and nasal abnormalities can all induce snoring and make breathing difficult.

“No airflow” is what apnea means. Obstructive sleep apnea was formerly assumed to be a condition that only affected overweight, older men. However, persons of any age, weight, or sex might experience irregular breathing when sleeping.

Researchers now know that the obstruction in the airways in many cases of sleep apnea is just partial. Sleep apnea is characterized by a smaller-than-normal inner throat, as well as other modest bone and soft-tissue anomalies.

Blood oxygen levels may or may not drop during sleep, which was long assumed to be the cause of waking up due to obstructive sleep apnea. The body’s increased struggle to overcome the obstruction of the airway is most likely what causes awakening.

Because alcohol relaxes the muscles that keep the airway open, it can exacerbate obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is an uncommon type of sleep apnea in which the brain sends messages to your muscles that decrease or cease for a brief period of time. If you have central sleep apnea, you may not be able to snore.

To determine why you snore and whether you have sleep apnea, you may need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist or undergo a sleep study.

3. Pregnancy and Sleep

Changes in hormone levels, such as progesterone, are most likely to blame for fatigue during the first trimester of pregnancy. Some women find it difficult to sleep as their pregnancy progresses due to the uncomfortable girth of their abdomen.

Some women can’t sleep well because they’re too enthusiastic, scared, or worried about becoming mothers. Other pregnant women claim that vivid nightmares keep them from getting a good night’s sleep. The fetus is at risk from sleep apnea, especially if it is severe and causes your blood oxygen level to plummet during sleep.

4. Narcolepsy

The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown. Environmental and genetic factors are expected to play a role, while genetic data is currently speculative and poorly explored. Some uncommon nerve diseases have been associated with narcolepsy.

5. Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors, including kidney failure, neurological diseases, vitamin and iron deficiency, pregnancy, and certain drugs (such as antidepressants). Recent research has discovered a strong genetic relationship, and researchers have identified a gene that may be responsible for at least 40% of all cases of the condition.

6. Nightmares and Night Terrors

A frightening or stressful experience, fever or illness, or the use of certain medications or alcohol can all cause nightmares. Night terrors are most frequent in preschoolers, but they can also strike adults who are dealing with emotional or psychological issues.

Other Things that Impact Sleep

  • Young age.Age is a factor. Infants are capable of sleeping for up to 16 hours every day. However, most babies do not sleep through the night without being fed until they are 4 months old. Children at school may sleep up to 10 hours each day. An illness or fever may cause them to lose sleep. If your child has a fever and is lethargic when waking up, contact your doctor.
  • Old age. People over the age of 60 may not be able to sleep as deeply as those younger. Sleep apnea is also more prevalent in the elderly.
  • Lifestyle. People who consume coffee, cigarettes, or alcohol are more likely to experience sleep issues than those who do not.
  • Medication. Many medicines can make you sleepless. Others can make you tired during the day.
  • Anxiety and depression. Insomnia is a common sign of anxiety and despair.
  • Heart failure and lung problems. Heart failure and lung issues are two of the most common ailments. Some people have trouble sleeping at night because lying down causes them to become breathless. This could be an indication of heart failure or a lung condition.

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