The effects of not getting enough sleep can have a detrimental impact on overall health.
Neuraxpharm provides medication alternatives for sleep disorders and once your doctor has determined your specific needs, they can prescribe the product that best adapts to your needs and condition.
Read on to find out more about sleep disorders.
The term ‘sleep disorders’ refers to a group of conditions that affect the quality, timing, or length of sleep. Problems can range from having difficulty falling or staying asleep to getting too much sleep, or even experiencing abnormal behaviours during sleep.
Sleep disorders have an impact on your ability to function properly while awake, and can be linked to other health conditions(1).
There are thought to be around 100 different types of sleep disorder. These are the most common:
It’s quite common to suffer from problems sleeping at some point in your life. Most of the time, the problems are short-lived and resolve themselves. However, once you have been experiencing a niggling sleep issue for around three months, it becomes what is known as a sleep disturbance.
If the sleep disturbance continues for a further three months, it is classified as a sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders are particularly prevalent in children, women, and those aged over 65, but can affect anyone at any stage of life.
There are many different types of sleep disorder, and the symptoms vary. Some of the more common ones are:
Sufferers of this condition find it hard to go to sleep and then to stay asleep, with frequent waking throughout the night. They can wake up early and find it difficult to go back to sleep, which can lead to irritability and low mood.
There are five main symptoms of narcolepsy. These are: a sudden, brief loss of voluntary muscle tone, hallucinations, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and sleep disruption.
The main symptom of this condition is an overwhelming urge to move your legs. People with restless leg syndrome can also experience an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves, and thighs, which is often worse in the evening or at night and makes it difficult to sleep.
Symptoms occur during sleep and include ‘stop/start’ breathing, making gasping, snorting or choking noises, and loud snoring.
Many people suffer from some sort of problem sleeping; it is only when the problems have been experienced for around six months that they become classified as a sleep disorder.
It makes sense to be aware of changes to your sleeping pattern and take early action to try to address them, such as by practising effective sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene encompasses all the routines and environmental aspects you need to have a relaxing bedtime and a restful night’s sleep. There is more information about sleep hygiene in the Prevention section.
Anyone of any age or gender can be affected by a sleep disorder, although the conditions are more common in women, children, and older people.
Although a sleep disorder is not a terminal condition, it can have a far-reaching detrimental impact on your quality of life and overall health.
Those who are chronically sleep deprived are more likely to be overweight, have a stroke, or develop cardiovascular disease.
It’s common to have brief instances of poor sleep. Worry can lead to difficulty drifting off, while changes in life circumstances, such as having a baby, can lead to poor sleep. These causes tend to be temporary and usually resolve themselves. If you have had trouble sleeping for several months and it is affecting your daily life in a way that makes it hard to cope, you could benefit from further support.
A visit to the doctor to discuss your sleeping patterns and the impact they are having on your life is the first step to diagnosis. The doctor will ask questions about your history and any other symptoms; they may test your blood pressure and take blood samples for tests to rule out any underlying conditions.
Depending on the type of sleep disorder suspected, the doctor may suggest a sleep study to find out what is happening to your body and brain while asleep. This could involve wearing a device at home to measure your breathing and heartbeat while you sleep.
Alternatively, you may be asked to stay overnight at a sleep clinic, where a more detailed analysis of your sleeping pattern will be carried out. This could involve the use of electrodes, sensors and bands on your body while you sleep to record outputs like heart rate, oxygen levels, and brainwaves.
Treatment options are dependent on the disorder diagnosed and are tailored to individual circumstances. For example, narcolepsy has no cure, but medication can be used to manage symptoms, while sleep hygiene improvements can help combat sleepwalking.
Because autism is a complex condition that affects people differently, the approaches will depend on the individual’s needs and may well change over the course of their life.
Many autistic people also have co-existing conditions, such as a learning disability, mental health problems, epilepsy, sleep problems and digestive issues. Certain treatments or support methods may be helpful for these and should always be monitored carefully.
Having a regular sleep routine and practising effective sleep hygiene can help prevent sleep disorders from developing.
Recommended sleep habits include:
There have been numerous studies into sleep and in particular the impact that getting too little sleep can have on health and public safety.
Decades of studies have confirmed that sleep is necessary for our healthy functioning – and even survival.
The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine launched in 2005, by which time a large number of sleep disorders had been identified and clearly defined. Since then, the pace of research and discovery has accelerated, and the number of peer-reviewed sleep journals has more than tripled.
Current research tends to focus on how disrupted sleep affects the body and the impact it has on metabolism and hormone regulation. In addition, newer studies reinforce what is known and suspected about the relationships between inadequate sleep and a wide range of conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mood disorders.