The Luna and leaf team would like to check in with your ability to sleep well on a regular basis in these unfathomable times of global lock down. These coronavirus induced worries often translate to sleep disturbances. Whether they are caused by underlying health problem or stress, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common in the globally.
It is important to recognise sleep disturbances early on, be aware for abnormal sleep patterns that interfere with physical, mental and emotional functioning, as we all know: prevention is better than cure. Most people occasionally experience sleeping problems due to stress, hectic schedules, and other outside influences. However, when these issues begin to occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily life, they may indicate a sleeping disorder.
Most effective treatment occurs when symptoms are detected early, however, they can differ depending on the severity and type of sleeping disorder. They may also vary when sleep disorders are a result of another condition. However, general symptoms of sleep disorders include:
- difficulty falling or staying asleep
- daytime fatigue
- strong urge to take naps during the day
- irritability or anxiety
- lack of concentration
There are many conditions, diseases, and disorders that can cause sleep disturbances. In many cases, sleep disorders develop as a result of an underlying health problem.
Allergies and Respiratory Problems
Allergies, colds, and upper respiratory infections can make it challenging to breathe at night. The inability to breathe through your nose can also cause sleeping difficulties.
Nocturia, or frequent urination, may disrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up during the night. Hormonal imbalances and diseases of the urinary tract may contribute to the development of this condition. (Be sure to call your doctor right away if frequent urination is accompanied by bleeding or pain.)
Constant pain can make it difficult to fall asleep. It might even wake you up after you fall asleep. Some of the most common causes of chronic pain include:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- inflammatory bowel disease
- persistent headaches
- continuous lower back pain
In some cases, chronic pain may even be exacerbated by sleep disorders. For instance, doctors believe the development of fibromyalgia might be linked to sleeping problems.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety often have a negative impact on sleep quality. It can be difficult for you to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Nightmares, sleep talking, or sleepwalking may also disrupt your sleep.
There are numerous different types of sleep disorders. Some may be caused by other underlying health conditions.
Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep. It can be caused by jet lag, stress and anxiety, hormones, or digestive problems. It may also be a symptom of another condition. Insomnia can be very problematic for your overall health and quality of life, potentially causing:
- difficulty concentrating
- weight gain
- impaired work or school performance
Unfortunately, insomnia is extremely common in the United States. Approximately 50 percent of American adults experience it at some point in their lives. The disorder is most prevalent among older adults and women.
Insomnia is usually classified as one of three types:
- chronic, which is when insomnia happens on a regular basis for at least one month
- intermittent, which is when insomnia occurs periodically
- transient, which is when insomnia lasts for just a few nights at a time
Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. This is a serious medical condition that causes the body to take in less oxygen. It can also cause you to wake up during the night.
Parasomnias are a class of sleep disorders that cause abnormal movements and behaviors during sleep. They include:
- sleep talking
- teeth grinding or jaw clenching
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an overwhelming need to move the legs. This urge is sometimes accompanied by a tingling sensation in the legs. While these symptoms can occur during the day, they are most prevalent at night. RLS is often associated with certain health conditions, including ADHD and Parkinson’s disease, but the exact cause isn’t always known.
Narcolepsy is characterized by “sleep attacks” that occur during the day. This means that you will suddenly feel extremely tired and fall asleep without warning. The disorder can also cause sleep paralysis, which may make you physically unable to move right after waking up. Although narcolepsy may occur on its own, it is also associated with certain neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.
Treatment for sleep disorders can vary depending on the type and underlying cause. However, it generally includes a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes.
Medical treatment for sleep disturbances might include any of the following:
- sleeping pills
- melatonin supplements
- allergy or cold medication
- medications for any underlying health issues
- breathing device or surgery (usually for sleep apnea)
- a dental guard (usually for teeth grinding)
Lifestyle adjustments can greatly improve your quality of sleep, especially when they’re done along with medical treatments. You may want to consider:
- incorporating more vegetables and fish into your diet, and reducing sugar intake
- reducing stress and anxiety by exercising
- creating and sticking to a regular sleeping schedule
- drinking less water before bedtime
- limiting your caffeine intake, especially in the late afternoon or evening
- decreasing tobacco and alcohol use
- eating smaller low carbohydrate meals before bedtime
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can also significantly improve your sleep quality. While you might be tempted to sleep in on the weekends, this can make it more difficult to wake up and fall asleep during the workweek.
The effects of sleep disorders can be so disruptive that you will likely want immediate relief. Unfortunately, long-term cases can take a bit more time to resolve. However, if you stick with your treatment plan and regularly communicate with your doctor, you can eventually find your way to better sleep. You may also want to visit the National Sleep Foundation website for additional resources to share with your doctor.