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HEALTH CONDITIONS
Sleep Disorders
Overview
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Common Name/Other name:

Somnipathy, sleep difficulty

Sleep disorder, also referred to as somnipathy, describes conditions that disrupt a person's sleeping pattern. We don't think much about sleep but like eating, sleeping is another one of man's life-sustaining activities. Sleep is when the body rests, repairs and restores. Lack of sleep makes you cognitively impaired, much like if you have been drinking alcohol. Sleep deprivation can also weaken your immune system function, increase the risk of heart disease and obesity and inhibit your productivity.

The amount of sleep required for optimum function depends on several factors which include age, physical and psychological condition or energy exerted within the day.

Sleep disorders can be categorized into dyssomnias, parasomnias, Circadian rhythm disorders and sleep disorders caused by medical or psychological conditions. Here are the common disorders under each category:

Dyssomnias are disorders in the quantity, quality or timing of sleep. Dyssomnias can produce either excessive sleepiness or difficulty in initiating and maintaining sleep. These are the common types of dyssomnias:

  • Insomnia (also see Sleeplessness)- is a common disorder wherein a person has difficulty in falling or staying asleep.
  • Narcolepsy - is a disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness, characterized by falling asleep spontaneously even if the person has sufficient amount of sleep at night. It may or may not be accompanied by cataplexy or sudden loss of muscle control while awake which can be triggered by strong emotions like anger, grief or while laughing. Cataplectic attacks can lead to falls and injuries.
  • Sleep apnea - is one of the most potentially dangerous sleep disorders. In sleep apnea, a person pauses or stops breathing for a few seconds before breathing resumes. It results in poor quality of sleep leading to daytime sleepiness.
  • Restless leg syndrome - causes an irresistible urge to move the legs with its uncomfortable, tingling, aching or creeping sensations.
  • Hypersomnia - is the opposite of insomnia. It is a condition of excessive sleepiness. A hypersomniac has difficulty in functioning because he/she always feels exhausted even after a long sleep.
  • Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) - is a sudden involuntary movement of the arms and/or legs during sleep. This twitching can cause some people to wake up.

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are disorders affecting the timing of sleep or the "body clock".

  • Time zone change syndrome (Jet lag) - is a common disorder among travelers and occurs as a result of rapidly changing time zones. The difference between the timing of the body clock with the local time can cause difficulty in sleeping at night and physical problems like stomach upset.
  • Shift work sleep disorder - affects people who have rotating shifts at work.
  • Irregular sleep-wake pattern - is when a person has no regular sleeping pattern and sleeps at very irregular times.

Parasomnia is a condition used to describe abnormal activities or events that happen while a person is sleeping. Some examples include:

  • Sleep terrors or night terrors
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Sleepwalking (somnambulism)
  • Sleeptalking (somniloquy)
  • Nocturnal eating syndrome - can occur while sleepwalking.

Other medical/psychiatric conditions that can produce somnipathy:

  • Psychoses
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic
  • Alcoholism
  • Sleeping sickness
Symptoms
Risk Factors

There are several factors which may increase your risk for Sleep Disorders which include:

  • Poor sleep environment
  • Irregular sleep routine
  • Traveling between time zones
  • Obesity
  • Consuming caffeine and alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Stress
  • Other illnesses
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Anti-parkinsonian drugs (dopamine agonists) - may be prescribed to treat restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder.
  • Benzodiazepines - may be used to treat parasomnias and are occasionally used for bruxism and short-term insomnia.
  • Non-benzodiazepines hypnotics - these drugs are used for treating short-term insomnia.
  • Anticonvulsants - can also be prescribed as treatment for periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome, nocturnal eating syndrome and insomnia related to bipolar disorder.
  • Anti-narcoleptics - improve daytime wakefulness in those who are shift workers or suffer from narcolepsy or sleep apnea.
  • Other supplements, such as herbal sleeping aids.
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies

Health Tips for a Better Sleep:

  • Establish a regular sleep routine. As much as possible, sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Turn your room into a sleep-inducing environment. Your room must be quiet, dark and cool. Keep work materials out of your room and your gadgets beyond reach to keep you from using them.
  • Keep a relaxing pre-sleep routine like taking a shower, reading and other relaxing, sleep-inducing exercises.
  • Watch your food intake before bedtime. Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, nicotine (smoking) and foods with chemicals/properties that interfere with sleep. Avoid eating heavy meals and fluid intake.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Take a nap in the afternoon to restore energy. The recommended nap duration is from 10-30 minutes and must be done before 5 p.m.
  • Exercise daily but at least few hours before sleeping time.
  • For those who grind their teeth, try to relax your jaw muscles by placing a warm wash cloth against your cheek near the earlobe and train yourself not to grind your teeth during the day.

Health Tool:

Is your daytime sleepiness level normal? Take the quiz here.
Doctors to Consult
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