The stress of living under lockdown is playing havoc with our sleep and sleep-disturbance is a well-documented manifestation of stress. Sleep is essential for normal, healthy function. However, millions of people suffer from chronic sleep disorders each year, and even more suffer occasional sleep problems.
Types and Causes
There are more than 100 different sleep and wake disorders. Generally classified into four categories, sleep disorders include:
- Trouble falling and staying asleep, such as insomnia
- Disturbed sleep, such as sleep apnoea or restless leg syndrome
- Excessive sleep, such as narcolepsy
- Trouble sticking to a regular sleep schedule, usually seen in travellers or night time workers
Sleep disorders are very common and can result from a number of causes, including stress, illness, diet or medication. Other causes include genetics, night-shift work, blindness, mental illness, physical illness and ageing.
As with other neurological disorders, an accurate medical history is an essential component of a sleep disorder diagnosis. People with sleep disorders should keep a daily log of activities and sleep, including when they go to sleep and for how long.
Behaviour such as snoring or frequent waking should be reported to the GP. Also, it’s important to mention any tobacco, alcohol or other drug use to your GP.
Treatment for sleep disorders depends on the cause. If a cause has not been identified for a particular sleep disorder, improving sleep habits is the best way to overcome the disorder.
Follow these tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Set a schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even at the weekends.
- Exercise daily, but not within a few hours of going to bed.
- Avoid caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol within several hours of bedtime, all of which can cause sleep deprivation or missing an important stage of the sleep cycle.
- Try to enjoy a relaxing bedtime ritual every night before going to sleep, like taking a hot bath or reading a book.
- Try to wake up to the sun by opening curtains or shades and letting in the sunlight. Or, go outside briefly. The sun helps trigger and reset the biological clock, which is the part of the brain that indicates both sleepiness and when it is time to wake up.
- Before going to bed, make sure that the room is not too hot or too cold.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional. Content from Zywave, Inc. provided by TH March.