As per a report an overwhelming majority of Indians suffer from Sleep deprivation and disorders yet it is an overlooked health problem. We work day and night to achieve our goals and prosper in our careers, however, in this entire scenario our biological schedule is hampered and we end up carrying extra baggage of sleep disorders.
What are the causes of sleep disorders?
Has it ever occurred to you that you feel like sleeping during your office hours or at any abnormal hour other than normal sleeping hours? Do you face difficulty falling asleep? Or did your friends or partner complain about your increased movements or snoring during sleep? And we accuse the stress and work pressure for all of the above. It is true that people with stressful jobs are more prone to sleep problems and when the answer to all the above questions becomes yes, it is the point where the sleep problems start, and we even after noticing the symptoms we remain ignorant. In old age, if not work stress, medical conditions like asthma, obesity, and medications interfere with sleep. A downward trend in sleep has also been observed in children which is due to the excessive use of mobile phones and caffeine consumption.
What are the different types of sleep disorders and the problems associated with them?
It is formidable to be aware of sleep disorders and their severity before it becomes gravely. There are many different types of sleep disorders but the most common sleep disorders are:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
Insomnia is a condition of difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep and the person either wake up early or remain restless the entire day. The condition can be acute or chronic depending upon the factors it is associated with like stress, anxiety, poor sleeping habits, certain medications, depression, or environmental factors like light or temperature.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder characterized by a repetitive interruption in breathing while sleeping. If left untreated will prove critical to the patient. It can occur either due to blockage of the airway (Obstructive Sleep apnea) or if the brain fails to send signals to muscles to control breathing (Central Sleep apnea). It is usually associated with loud snoring, morning headaches or a sore throat in the morning.
Now it has been observed that 50%- 60% of people suffering from insomnia are likely to have Sleep apnea, and the condition is known as Comorbid Insomnia and Sleep Apnea (COMISA). It is a debilitating disorder that impairs daytime functioning and quality of life. The common characteristics that COMISA exhibits of both insomnia and sleep apnea are:
- Sleep deprivation
- Excessive daytime sleep
The condition can be managed and treated only after recognizing the underlying etiology. Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition that causes an intense and irresistible urge to move legs due to a prickly sensation. It happens usually in the evening or during nighttime and disrupts sleep. The sensation is temporarily relieved by the movement of the legs.
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder in which sleep regulation is affected. It is characterized by excessive daytime drowsiness and uncontrolled episodes of sleep. Unlike normal sleeping patterns, the NREM phase is absent in narcoleptic patients and they directly enter into REM sleep. A narcoleptic patient experiences hallucinations, cataplexy, slurred speech, and sleep paralysis. Such patients also suffer in their professional and personal life as they are thought to be lethargic or lazy. The person is more prone to the disorder if a family member has one.
The department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India has also recommended a national sleep policy, citing it the ‘need of the day’, annexing it under the National Health Policy of India. The policy raises this ever critical issue of the need of ‘adequate sleep’ for the overall population of India.
What measures can be taken to prevent sleep disorders?
- Caffeinated drinks must be avoided.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid medications like antidepressants and diet pills
- Establish a regular sleeping time
- Avoid taking naps but if extremely sleepy, limit the naps to less than 30 minutes.
- Avoid watching television or mobile phones before going to sleep.
- Create an optimal sleeping environment.
- Usage of good pillows with a perfect alignment of your head, neck and the back.