Necessary for everyone’s good health and survival, the restorative effect of sleep is the main factor allowing us to function normally during waking hours. While individual sleep requirements vary between people, most usually need somewhere between 6 and 10 hours of sleep per night.
Decreases in the duration or quality of sleep, whether caused by sleep disorders or environmental issues, can often have a negative impact on daily life. From frustratingly long nights, to difficult unmotivated mornings, and impaired functionality throughout the rest of the day, sleep disorders effect millions of people around the world. Here are four of the most common disorders that have a negative impact on sleep and day-to-day functioning.
Insomnia stops people from getting enough quality sleep which creates feelings of unrest during the day. Chronically affecting around 10% of adults as well as 25% of adults with acute symptoms, Insomnia is the most common of all sleep disorders.
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep when going to bed at night, as well as frequently waking up during the night and then struggling to get back to sleep. The most effective treatments for insomnia are the short-term use of sleeping tablets, or cognitive behavioral therapy with a skilled therapist.
Affecting around 1 in every 2000 people, Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessively uncontrollable sleepiness with a profoundly unstable state between being awake and asleep. This potentially dangerous condition may to falling asleep during extremely inappropriate situations, like when operating a vehicle or heavy machinery, and is even known to cause hallucinations.
Believed to be caused by low supplies of hypocretin, a chemical in the brain responsible for maintaining muscle tone and encouraging wakefulness. The reduced quantities of this chemical reduction are often due to genetics or damage to the brain, brain tumors or lesions, or an autoimmune process. Narcolepsy is most commonly treated with drug therapies which thankfully has a relatively high rate of success.
The terrifying inability to move at any time during the transition between sleep and awake is known as Sleep Paralysis. Most episodes only last for a few minutes at the maximum, as your brain completes the natural process of waking up. Some may also suffer from hallucinations such as the terrifying sight of a stranger beside your bed, to more mundane things like believing something happened that didn’t.
Affecting around 25% of people at least once in their lives, sleep paralysis is a pretty common disorder which may also be a symptom of narcolepsy. While understanding what’s happening often makes this condition much less scary, doctors may prescribe medications like antidepressants in rare cases to help decrease the frequency of episodes.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring is caused by the throat closing while asleep, whereas Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious and chronic medical condition caused when a throat closure cuts off breathing multiple times an hour for 10 seconds or more. When your body senses the blood’s oxygen levels dropping, the brain gets you breathing again by pulling you out of your deep sleep.
These interruptions to your breathing are usually caused by an upper airway obstruction or the central nervous system’s periodical failure to keep you breathing autonomously, and there are effective treatments available. Sleep apnea can also cause or worsen medical conditions such as heart failure, hypertension, and diabetes, or even cause sudden death by stroke, heart failure, or heart attack.