Sleep is crucial for all aspects of human health and wellbeing to function optimally. From your mental capacities to your weight, from your relationships to your immune response—sleep is non-negotiable.
Why then do so many of us skimp on rest? The following will explore some common forms of sleep disorders and examine what can be done to help alleviate their symptoms or cure them.
What Are Sleep Disorders?
In the broadest sense, sleep disorders are conditions that alter the way people sleep. They can result in harm done to our overall health, safety, and quality of life by causing sleep deprivation. Signs or symptoms of sleep disorders can include:
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Irregular breathing during sleep
- Movement during sleep
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Irregular sleep and wake cycles
Because sleep affects every area of our life, sleep disorders can wreak havoc on us. One of the most challenging parts of sleep disorders is that, sometimes, we don’t know we have them. We can’t watch ourselves sleep and take note of problems—we have to trust our ability to remember what the night entailed, which isn’t always accurate.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by having trouble falling or staying asleep. Insomnia can also cause people to wake up absurdly early and be unable to go back to bed despite feeling tired. The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and insomnia makes this difficult.
Insomnia might be the main problem, but other experiences or conditions can also bring it on. Things like stress, disruptions, travel schedules, work schedules, poor sleep habits, and overeating later on in the evening can all result in or contribute to insomnia.
Stress can be a tough cause to tackle. We might have worries about school, work, health, finances, or our families to deal with (and many who suffer from insomnia also have anxiety about bedtime because it has become such a struggle for them in the past). Tackling stress can improve anyone’s health and sleep, regardless of sleep disorders present, but insomnia can be especially helped.
Practicing mindfulness, meditation, or breathing techniques can help. Light exercise like walks in nature or yoga has also proven to help ease stress. Some insomniacs find journaling right before bed to assist with their sleep—they write down their worries and tell themselves it’s okay to put them down for the night—they can return to stressing about them in the morning. There are also sleeping devices like weighted blankets that have had promising results with those who have insomnia. Before making a purchase like this, always do your research by reading reviews of weighted blanket guides to know more about this product. This will help ensure that you’re selecting the right product for you and your situation.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person experiences abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping—sometimes stopping breathing altogether. Being overweight or having a large neck, tonsils, or tongue can contribute to sleep apnea. This disorder increases the risk of many health problems as it can result in less oxygen being delivered to the brain and other parts of the body. Untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Worsening ADHD
- Heart failure
- Irregular heartbeats
- Heart attacks
Symptoms of sleep apnea include: waking up with a dry or sore throat, morning headaches, loud snoring, waking up choking or gasping, and tiredness. If you think you might have sleep apnea, it’s best to go to the doctor and get tested. You’ll have to sleep overnight in a clinic with sensors attached to you (and yes, that part will feel weird).
Contrary to popular belief, sleep apnea is not an incurable thing you have to deal with forever. Losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills (which decrease muscle tone in the back of your throat), changing your sleeping positions, quitting smoking, and treating allergies can all make a massive difference. You’ll also want to relearn breathing (yes, humans breathe wrong) and complete exercises to strengthen and tone your throat, jaw, and nasal passages. The exercises will make you feel silly, but they will help as the lifestyle changes that have occurred in the last thousand years among humans have left our necks, jaws, and nasal passages chronically weak.
The above information should help you understand better some of the problems humans are having with their sleep. Never settle for being exhausted all the time. If you’re tired when you wake up and go about your day—this is your body telling you that something is wrong. You don’t have to be tired all the time.