Sleep is as important to us as food, water and air and without sufficient good quality sleep, our health can soon deteriorate with drastic consequences. Sleep disorders may be exacerbated by the following:
- Too much caffeine
- Consumption of alcohol
- Heavy smoking
- Daytime napping
- Level of physical fitness
- Certain medications
Types of Sleep Disorder
Insomnia may occur as the result of a variety of factors as given above, or may be caused by stress alone. It is a general terms for the perceived inability to sleep for any long period of time at an appropriate time.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome
This occurs when your body clock is out of sync for whatever reason and your sleep patterns do not fit with the normal 10pm - 8am cycle.
Hypnotic-dependent sleep disorder
This disorder occurs as a result of your body building tolerance to certain medications, or if you have stopped taking a certain sleep medication. You 'rely' on the effect of that medication to gain sleep and without it, your body is unable to reach a healthy dose of sleep.
Stimulant-dependent sleep disorder
Similarly, this is when you stop or become dependent upon certain stimulants - this can have a huge effect on your body's ability to attain a healthy sleeping pattern.
The other side of the sleep disorder is the inability to stay awake. The following conditions are included:
A long name for the simple term of being unable to sleep, but there being no identifiable cause.
Narcolepsy, a condition whereby an invidual suffers excessive sleepiness and frequent sleep attacks during the day, is a disorder which occurs as the result of problems in the nervous system. It is believed that reduced amounts of a protein called hypocretin results in the failure to inhibit sleep. This can be a dangerous condition, and those diagnosed with it will often find that they are unable to function on an every day level.
This is common, particularly with those who are overweight, have breathing problems or heart problems. The individual 'stops' breathing for a short period of time whilst sleeping, and will awake suddenly to take a breath when oxygen levels are critically low.
Restless leg syndrome
There is no known cause for RLS, which is a condition whereby an individual needs to move their legs to ease discomfort sometimes described as a pulling, creeping, crawling or tingling sensation. Is is often found in individuals with the following:
- Kidney disease
- Parkinsons disease
- Iron deficiency
- and those who are on certain medications.